Care Medical, which provides medical services for the app-based Amazon Care, appears to be preparing to expand throughout the country, raising questions about the tech behemoth’s future in the healthcare space.  

Currently, Amazon Care connects Washington state Amazon employees with Care Medical providers via an app for a wide variety of primary and urgent care services. Individuals in the greater Seattle area can also have a nurse dispatched to their homes for follow-up needs like blood draws.

According to reporting from Erin Brodwin at STAT, Care Medical has filed paperwork to start doing business in 17 more states. Amazon representatives declined to respond to requests for comment for this story.  

WHY IT MATTERS  

The exact relationship between Care Medical and Amazon Care is not clear. Amazon has described Care Medical – which shares much of its branding, like the signature arrow, with the retail giant – as “an independent medical practice licensed in Washington state.”

The practice, as STAT notes, lists a P.O. Box in downtown Seattle as its address. The phone number listed on official Care Medical documents automatically redirects, as of March, to the customer service line for Amazon Care. Business Insider has also reported that Care Medical contracts exclusively with Amazon Care.    

According to documents filed with the Washington Secretary of State’s office in April 2018, Care Medical began as Oasis Medical Group, with Dr. Martin Levine as its founding medical director. Levine had been hired by Amazon in January 2018. His LinkedIn describes the role as the “founding medical director of the medical practice for Amazon Care.”  

As Christina Farr explained for CNBC in February 2020, Amazon Care’s “care providers, including the physicians and nurses, are technically employed by a separate subsidiary called Oasis Medical. That provision ensures that Amazon won’t possess knowledge about its employees’ health that it’s not legally entitled to have.”  

In April 2020, Oasis listed Dr. Robert Bernstein as a governor on Washington Secretary of State documents. Bernstein was the former vice president of clinical affairs at Carena and was “actively involved,” according to a bio listed on the Telemedicine Telehealth Service Provider Summit, with Carena’s telemedicine-related growth. (Carena was acquired by Avizia in 2017.)

Bernstein is still a medical provider at Care Medical, as per his LinkedIn and the company website.  

In August 2020, Oasis filed to change its name to Care Medical, with Dr. Sunita Mishra listed on Secretary of State documents as the group’s president. Mishra’s LinkedIn also identifies her as Care Medical’s medical director, beginning in March of last year.

As STAT reports, Care Medical moved its legal headquarters this January from Washington to Wyoming, and filed paperwork in Georgia saying it planned to begin operations there on July 1, 2021. It also reportedly filed paperwork to start doing business in Hawaii, Maine, Maryland and Alaska, among other states.

STAT also pointed to now-removed January job postings for healthcare-related roles at Amazon in California, Georgia and Texas.  

THE LARGER TREND  

Amazon has made repeated forays into healthcare over the last few years. In December of last year, Business Insider reported that the company planned to extend the Amazon Care service beyond its own employees, a claim company representatives did not comment on.

In addition, the company’s highly publicized Haven initiative – cofounded with J.P. Morgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway – generated buzz about potential disruption to the industry.

Haven announced in January, however, that it would shutter its independent operations.

“In the past three years, Haven explored a wide range of healthcare solutions, as well as piloted new ways to make primary care easier to access, insurance benefits simpler to understand and easier to use, and prescription drugs more affordable,” Haven said in a statement.  

ON THE RECORD  

“Viewed together with a series of job openings at Amazon Care posted in February, the flurry of springtime activity suggests that Amazon is preparing to transition Amazon Care from a staff-only benefit to a more accessible, consumer-facing product,” wrote Brodwin for STAT.  

 

Kat Jercich is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Twitter: @kjercich
Email: [email protected]
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.