Amazon’s CEO, Andy Jassy, ​​Shares Bold Vision for Healthcare Business

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  • Andy Jassy, ​​Amazon’s CEO, said in November that Amazon Care is one of the company’s top innovations.
  • The new primary care business is looking to expand through partnerships and new services.
  • Amazon aims to combine it with pharmacy and diagnostics offerings in a one-stop shop for healthcare.

During a November all-hands meeting, an Amazon employee asked CEO Andy Jassy to share the “innovations” that most excited him at the company.

Without much hesitation, Jassy mentioned Amazon Care, the company’s new primary-care business, as one of his top picks, according to audio of the meeting that Insider obtained.

Calling Amazon a “significant disruptor” in the medical-care field, Jassy expounded on the potential benefits of Amazon Care, which connects patients with doctors over text and video — and in some locations, mails prescriptions and dispatches a nurse to people’s homes for exams and labs.

He said its on-demand


telehealth

capabilities could significantly improve the medical-care process, which relies on long wait times, unpredictable scheduling, and additional stops to pharmacies to pick up medications. Ten years from now, he added, the standard experience of seeing a doctor today would look “crazy.”

“That experience, which has been the norm for the last, I don’t know, a hundred years, is not going to be the way it’s done moving forward,” he said. “What we’re trying to do with Amazon Care and telemedicine — which we’re in the process of rolling out nationally right now, which we piloted though with our own employees here in Seattle — radically changes that game.”

Jassy’s comment offers a rare window into the CEO’s staunch enthusiasm for Amazon’s healthcare business at a time when big tech is jockeying to plow into the largely antiquated $4.1 trillion industry. Since spending $750 million on acquiring the online-pharmacy startup PillPack in 2018, Amazon has significantly ramped up the healthcare services it offers, investing heavily in a growing business that now includes primary care, prescription delivery, and medical diagnostics.

Now, Amazon plans to double down on its healthcare efforts, internally consolidating the team and planning for further expansion across various areas, said internal documents and seven people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation from Amazon.

Amazon declined to comment on Insider’s reporting.

‘3 legs of the stool’

Amazon’s healthcare business consists largely of three main components: primary care, online pharmacy, and health diagnostics. The company has a grand vision of ultimately blending the three separate entities into a one-stop shop for all health-related things, one person said. At this point, the teams themselves mostly aren’t working together, two people said.

That vision is illustrated in an internal planning document, which Insider reviewed, presented to leadership from Amazon’s diagnostics wing last year. Using a parent with a sick child as an example, Amazon’s healthcare team envisioned a complete healthcare package that provided virtual medical advice (through Amazon Care), an at-home testing kit and results on the same day (through Amazon Diagnostics), and follow -up treatment (through Amazon Pharmacy) — calling each segment “three legs of the stool.”

“While each of these businesses are at early stages of development at Amazon, we are excited by the potential to bring together at-home testing, telemedicine, and pharmacy offerings as three legs of the stool for a far superior customer/patient experience than most are acccustomed to in primary care, and at a much better value,” the document said.

In a move towards this vision, Amazon in late 2021 consolidated its healthcare team under Neil Lindsay, the former SVP of Prime and marketing, in a newly created position overseeing Amazon’s main healthcare initiatives. The new role signals a sharper focus on health, with Lindsay reporting to Doug Herrington, the head of Amazon’s consumer business, two Amazon employees said. Leaders of pharmacy, care, and diagnostics fall under Lindsay’s team, showed an internal org chart seen by Insider in January.

That team includes Lindsay’s chief of staff, Ashwin Muralidharan; Kristen Helton, Amazon Care’s boss; John Love, the new head of Amazon Pharmacy; and Kenneth Bedsted, the director of Amazon Diagnostics, the chart showed.

The marketing and prime leaders and advisors Claudine Cheever, Manish Singh, and Simon Morris also report to Lindsay, along with TJ Parker, the pharmacy’s former head and a cofounder of PillPack, the chart showed. Aaron Martin, the chief digital officer at the health system Providence, is also joining Lindsay’s staff, Bloomberg reported in March.

Amazon Care's app.

Amazon Care’s app.

Amazon Care


Amazon is investing in primary care

Central to Amazon’s strategy in health is Amazon Care, which grew out of the company’s secretive Grand Challenge team. The tech giant tested out the health business on its own employee population in Seattle before rolling it out for other companies in the summer of 2021.

Amazon Care is off to a somewhat slow start, with just a handful of clients, beginning with the Peloton company Precor, as Insider exclusively reported.

But it has projects in the works that could put Amazon on the fast track to become your doctor.

In 2021, the venture tapped the consulting firm PwC to study a potential expansion into Medicare Advantage, the lucrative, private health-plan market for seniors, two employees told Insider. It’s also in talks with health plans, including regional Blue Cross Blue Shield insurers, to become an in-network benefit, which would allow members to pay for Amazon Care with their health insurance and copays, as Insider exclusively reported in July. Its agreement with the Amazon-owned Whole Foods, another client, and its insurer allows for such insurance coverage, the companies told Insider.

Going forward, it’s also looking to change up what it offers. Amazon Care covers a large spectrum of needs, from mental-health care to diabetes care, but it wants to add more kinds of medical services and partner with startups and health systems in doing so, the two employees and a person familiar with the matter said .

Amazon Care is already using the health startup SteadyMD to supply the bulk of its clinical workforce — supplementing Care Medical, a medical practice that exclusively works with Amazon — for the ongoing national expansion, the employees said.

There’s also the potential for partnership between Amazon Care and companies such as Crossover Health, a clinic startup that provides on-site care to many Amazon employees. Its budget moved internally under Beth Galetti, Amazon’s head of benefits who helped stand up Amazon Care, which signaled that the partnership would continue to grow, a person familiar with the matter said.

SteadyMD declined to comment. Crossover did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

A Whole Foods in Union Square NYC

Amazon has considered putting pharmacies inside its Whole Foods locations and launching a Walgreens-style store.

Noam Galai/Contributor


Amazon’s pharmacy looks to grow its business

Amazon’s pharmacy organization is grappling with a new leader after Love stepped into the position in January.

Two people said Amazon Pharmacy’s business had been underwhelming since launching in November 2020. It’s been hard to get new customers to use the service, one of the people said, and most of its growth has come from business customers instead. For instance, Amazon stores and fulfills orders for a number of pharmaceutical companies, including the prescription skincare company PruGen, the person said.

To better compete with in-person pharmacies that can get people their medication in a matter of hours, Amazon has considered launching a Walgreens-style store using its Just Walk Out cashierless technology and putting pharmacies inside its Whole Foods locations, as Insider previously reported .

Amazon’s looking to do more with testing

Amazon Diagnostics, for now, appears to be largely focused on delivering COVID-19 testing capabilities. But the team has larger ambitions, including plans to offer testing for infections that lead to respiratory and sexually transmitted diseases, as Insider previously reported.

The diagnostics team now has a separate careers page, with about 30 job openings.

Among the positions it’s looking for: a new leader. Cem Sibay, a former VP of diagnostics, moved to a new role in Prime Video this year, leaving his former position vacant.

One of the job posts said, “We have much more work to do to help improve the medical diagnostics healthcare experience for customers, and connect them with the treatment and care they need.”

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Do you have a tip about Amazon’s health businesses you want to share? Contact Blake Dodge via the encrypted messaging app Signal (1-252-241-3117).

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