Amazon office building Throughthe program, workers can get their medications within a few hoursvia Amazon Care, or can pick them up at a pharmacy.

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It's been a few months since we've seen Amazon in the healthcare headlines, or its collaborative health care disruptorHaven. But Amazon has been busy, quietly liningup its next move, which it announced this week: Amazon Care.

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Amazon Care is a virtual medical clinic for employees in theSeattle area that uses telehealth but may also send a nurse to anemployee's home for follow-ups.

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Related: Milk, eggs and a health checkup

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CNBC reports that the virtual clinic, which was notformally announced to the general public, offers a combination oftelemedicine and in-person care to employees enrolled in an Amazonhealth insurance plan. Its website says employees can access an"in-app video visit with a doctor, nurse practitioner, orregistered nurse … for advice, answers, diagnosis, treatment orreferrals." In addition, follow-up care may include a home visitfrom a nurse.

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According to a company spokesperson, "We're currently piloting ahealth care benefit designed to help Amazon employees get fastaccess to healthcare without an appointment, at the convenience oftheir schedules, at their preferred location (home, office, orvirtual). Amazon Care eliminates travel and wait time, connectingemployees and their family members to a physician or nursepractitioner through live chat or video, with the option forin-person follow up services from a registered nurse ranging fromimmunizations to instant strep throat detection."

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Workers can also get their medications within a few hours viaAmazon Care, or can pick them up at a pharmacy.

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Of course, Amazon doesn't do anything by halves, and the medicalventure is no exception. According to CNBC, the health care sectorcould be huge for Amazon, at $3.5 trillion, and its plans includethe incorporation of all sorts of technology, from cloud computingto medical record technology.

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The company already entered a joint venture with J.P. Morgan andBerkshire Hathaway in a push to cut the cost of health care whilestill preserving quality for the combined employee pool of 1.2million. It's also the acquirer of pharmacy PillPack, as well as aresearch and development group, and has been incorporating healthand wellness features into some of its wearable tech.

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"Amazon Care is emblematic of a major shift for benefitsmanagers at self-insured employers," says Vik Panda, NorthAmerica managing director for sleep tech companyDreem. "If providers and payers, including the government,cannot figure out a way to compensate for digital health in a waythat providers can abide by, and that lowers the cost ofhealthcare, then self-insured employers may simply secede from thehealthcare system as it exists today, and go their own way."

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To preserve employee privacy, Amazon has contracted with OasisMedical, a separate legal subsidiary of parent Amazon.

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Modern Healthcare reports that while thus far Amazon Care is onlyavailable to employees living in the Seattle area, that amounts tosome 53,500 people.

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Marlene Satter

Marlene Y. Satter has worked in and written about the financial industry for decades.