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Amazon’s new health hire further hints at a public-facing Amazon Care

This story was delivered to Insider Intelligence Digital Health Pro subscribers earlier this morning.To get this story plus others to your inbox each day, hours before they’re published on Business Insider, click here.The e-commerce giant added Vin Gupta this week to the growing team for Amazon Care — it’s virtual primacy care service — where the former pulmonary doctor and Apple consultant will serve as a principal scientist, per CNBC.

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Amazon Care launched as a pilot last September, providing a subset of Amazon’s Seattle-based employees access to virtual health advice, telemedicine consultations, and rapid prescription delivery. While there’s been no official word of Amazon expanding these services beyond the trial, I (Zach) recently predicted that we’d see a version of Amazon Care roll out to the general public in the second half of 2020 — and Gupta’s hiring, along with a few other notable moves, lend credence to that idea.This hire adds to several recent developments showing Amazon Care is likely on its way toward a near-term public rollout.Amazon acquired a digital triage solutions provider just under a month after launching Amazon Care. Marking its second-ever healthcare acquisition, the retail giant scooped up Health Navigator last October: The small company is known for its expertise in natural language processing and its digital triage tools that guide users to the most appropriate point of care according to their symptoms — whether that means staying home or going to the ER.It’s easy to see how Health Navigator’s tech could be integrated into the Amazon Care platform, as quickly determining the best point of care for users would likely cut down on costs for employees insured by Amazon, as well as reduce the labor costs associated with sending doctors to meet with patients.Amazon has roped in several other healthcare vets to bolster its Care team — and recent job postings show the hiring spree is far from over. Notable Amazon Care hires include Kristi Henderson, former VP of virtual care at Ascension who now works as a clinical operations leader for Amazon Care, and Christine Henningsgaard, who took up her role as a “principal” on the product and operations team at Amazon Care after holding the title of VP of operations for One Medical.Both new hires show that Amazon is pursuing veteran tech talent with expertise at large, nationwide healthcare providers. And the company is currently looking to fill a user experience (UX) role at Amazon Care that requires expertise with both graphical and voice interface schemes, which could point to stronger integration with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. A public launch of Amazon Care could seriously shake up the US telehealth industry, as Amazon would likely draw on its massive Prime subscriber base to push the tech further into the mainstream. While only 10% of US consumers have tried using telehealth tech according to a 2019 customer satisfaction report from JD Power — the positive experiences they’re having are a primary force driving new customer growth, as 65% of telehealth users tried out the tech based on positive word-of-mouth from family and friends, also per JD Power.That’s good news for Amazon, as I (Zach) could easily imagine a future where Amazon Care is offered as a premium upsell to the company’s more than 100 million Prime members, which could provide the strong brand recognition needed to convince people to make the jump to virtual care. And once they’ve tried the tech, it seems likely they’ll spread the word, helping to convert the over 40% of US consumers who say they’d be willing to switch from in-person hospital visits to virtual care into real-life, Amazon Care customers.Want to read more stories like this one? Here’s how to get access: Sign up for Digital Health Pro, Insider Intelligence’s expert product suite keeping you up-to-date on the people, technologies, trends, and companies shaping the future of healthcare, delivered to your inbox 6x a week.>>Get StartedJoin thousands of top companies worldwide who trust Insider Intelligence for their competitive research needs.>>Inquire About Our Enterprise MembershipsExplore related topics in more depth.>>Visit Our Report StoreCurrent subscribers can log in to read the briefing here.
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