USA — Amazon’s One Medical unit has introduced an on-demand virtual healthcare service for Prime members, priced at US$9 per month or US$99 annually.

This new offering comes less than a year after Amazon’s US$3.9 billion acquisition of One Medical, a membership-based primary care provider with offices in over 20 markets.

The One Medical membership extends to Prime members, allowing them to add up to five additional members for US$6 per month or US$66 annually.

The comprehensive service includes video consultations with licensed providers and features an in-app “Treat Me Now” option, addressing common concerns like cold and flu symptoms, skin issues, allergies, and urinary tract infections, according to Amazon.

While virtual care services have become increasingly popular, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, Amazon clarifies that there are no additional costs associated with the virtual visits covered by the membership fee.

However, for in-person visits to One Medical’s primary care offices, members must pay out of pocket or use their insurance. One Medical boasts a widespread network with hundreds of primary care offices nationwide.

The move aligns with Amazon’s persistent efforts to integrate healthcare services into its platform.

Despite previous setbacks, including the discontinuation of a virtual healthcare service last year and a failed joint venture with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan to address healthcare costs, the tech giant has continued to explore and expand its healthcare offerings.

In August, Amazon announced the addition of video telemedicine visits in all 50 states to a virtual clinic launched the previous year.

The recent virtual healthcare service allows patients to connect with care providers 24/7 through the Prime One Medical membership program, offering both video consultations and the option for in-person visits if local One Medical locations are available.

Amazon’s foray into the healthcare sector extends beyond virtual care. Last month, Amazon Pharmacy unveiled a drone delivery service in College Station, Texas, providing customers with prescription medications delivered within 60 minutes.

In August, Amazon Pharmacy introduced automatic application of manufacturer-sponsored coupons to over 15 popular insulin and diabetes care brand-name products.

In January, the launch of RxPass allowed Amazon Pharmacy members to access eligible medications for a flat fee of US$5 per month.

While virtual care presents convenience, some healthcare professionals express concerns about potential care fragmentation and difficulties in tracking a patient’s overall health, particularly if information from virtual visits is not effectively communicated to the patient’s regular doctor.

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