Another clue about Amazon’s intentions for healthcare emerged last week when reports broke that the online retailer is planning to build primary care clinics in the US for its Seattle employees. 

The technology giant has been working its way into healthcare on multiple fronts, including providing cloud-based infrastructure-as-a-service, storage and other platforms for hospitals, acquiring the online pharmacy PillPack in late June and the still mysterious blockbuster deal it revealed with JPMorgan and Berkshire Hathaway to create a company to reduce healthcare costs. 

Now CNBC has reported that Amazon’s plan is to hire a small group of doctors to run the pilot clinic for a “select group of employees” and then expand access to more workers in early 2019. 

The ecommerce giant had previously entertained outsourcing its clinics, even bringing in vendors to make proposals, but eventually decided to keep the operation in-house, the report said.

Amazon also hired primary care experts last year, including a former VP of operations from One Medical and an expert from Seattle primary care group Iora Health, which has clinics in Seattle.

This is not the first time Amazon has sent ripples cascading through the healthcare landscape. It blew the doors off 2018 with its January announcement that it would form a joint venture with JPMorgan and Berkshire Hathaway to cut healthcare costs and boost care quality.

[Read more: “Pharmacy industry shakeout”: Amazon announces its move into the massive online prescription marketplace | Apple to open high-tech medical centres for staff that will trial the company’s new health products]

Recently appointed CEO of that venture, Atul Gawande, said its evolution would be gradual and there would be no instant solutions. 

While details about the entity have been scarce, Gawande confirmed in June that the venture will be an insurer for the million-plus employees of the three partners. 

Gawande, a surgeon, public health researcher and author, has lamented the high cost of healthcare and the use of unnecessary treatments and tests that in some cases harm patients.

Amazon’s plans follow news in March that Apple is launching a group of high-tech medical centres for employees in the US that will also act as testing grounds for the technology titan’s health and wellness products prior to large-scale consumer rollout.

Apple’s program, AC Wellness Network, will be enabled by technology and promote high-quality care and a unique patient experience when it launches this year.

“The centres offer a unique concierge-like healthcare experience for employees and their dependents. Candidates must have an appreciation for the patient experience and passion for wellness and population health — integrating best clinical practices and technology in a manner that drives patient engagement,” according to the website.

Originally published on the US edition of Healthcare IT News.

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TAGS: Amazon, Apple



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