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Amazon says it will offer employers telemedicine services

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In this photograph taken on November 18, 2020, a person poses with a smartphone showing an Amazon logo, in front of a computer screen displaying the home page of Amazon.

Virtual medical care has been growing since before COVID, and Amazon’s announcement is a sign the industry will continue to grow after the pandemic. Denis Charlet/AFP via Getty Images

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Amazon has announced it will offer telemedicine services to employers throughout the country. The services are based on Amazon’s own in-house service called “Amazon Care.” It’s a service that lets employees connect with doctors and nurses through their mobile phones.

Virtual medical care has been growing since before COVID, and Amazon’s announcement is a sign the industry will continue to grow after the pandemic.

When the economy emerges from the pandemic, it’s likely that at least a quarter of doctor visits will be virtual, said Gurpreet Singh, health services leader at PwC.

“With certain therapeutic areas, for example, like mental health, it may be as much as 50% or 60% virtual,” Singh said.

Employers have an incentive to offer virtual services, said Robert Wachter, with the department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Wachter, who also serves on the advisory board of another telemedicine company, Teladoc, said virtual visits may be less costly — which can save employers money.

“Those savings will accrue in part to the company in the form of lower health care costs, ultimately, lower premiums,” Wachter said.

Wachter said the competition to provide these services is heating up among companies like Teladoc, Amwell, Doctor On Demand and now Amazon.

“Everybody sees that this is the moment where this huge, important, expensive industry is going to be transformed,” Wachter said.

Amazon will start offering its service in all 50 states this summer.

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