Amazon to Buy OneMedical: What It Means for You

Amazon to Buy OneMedical: What It Means for You

Amazon's multi-decade efforts to be the store for everything to everyone now also hope to include medical services and support, whether this is a good thing for consumers or not has yet to be seen. Amazon is already famous for delivering both excellent services with some technologies, while also being less than stellar on other fronts.

This is to be expected from any colossal tech company that sprawls across multiple industries, but when it comes to healthcare, the stakes are always higher than they would be for buying a TV or renting a favorite movie. Let's take a look at what the One Medical deal can mean for millions of current and future Amazon customers.

The Amazon Deal Basics

The Amazon Deal Basics

One Medical is a primary care health organization that offers its customer patients access to doctors and essential medical procedures, lab testing and other services through over 125 physical locations located all over the United States. One curious detail about the company is that its customer model is membership-based.

In exchange for being paid members, customers receive a higher level of attention, care and service speed. Actual medical services are still partly paid for through insurance coverage providers that One Medical itself then bills for whatever it has rendered to its own clients. The company then bills customers for their share of the expense while also giving them what it calls an "Explanation of Benefits", which breaks down insurance-paid and customer-paid expenses.

This is the service model that Amazon will be getting into by buying One Medical in its recent $4 billion deal. With this purchase price, Amazon will have instant access to the smaller companies nearly 800,000 existing customers and its 125+ physical locations. Most importantly perhaps, Amazon will also have access to One Medical's vast trove of customer health data, which the notoriously information-hungry company could possibly integrate into its other services.

Amazon's Position

This isn't the tech giant's first foray into healthcare either. In 2018, Amazon acquired the online pharmacy PillPack for $759 million and rebranded it as Amazon Pharmacy in 2020, turning the original business model into a prescription and delivery service in typical Amazon style. Then there's Haven, Amazon's non-profit health organization for offering low-cost primary care services to its own employees. It's worth noting however that Haven was dissolved after operating for only three years, slightly staining Amazon's reputation for helping out on employee health benefits.

Slightly more recently, Amazon Care was founded in 2019 as a service app that lets users connect with doctors more easily. Originally started with employees of Amazon itself, this service has since gone nationwide with the general public.

Finally and maybe most importantly, Amazon's AWS (Amazon Web Services) platform offers a colossal, global cloud storage and data management service to millions of customers of all kinds. As part of the AWS platform's technical capabilities, there is a natural language processing system that Amazon has trained to "understand and extract health data from medical text such as prescriptions, procedures, or diagnoses".

One Medical is a natural follow-up for the data-hungry Amazon behemoth and its current efforts at entering the immense healthcare industry. At the very least, it's already-present roster of nearly a million customers and vast trove of medical data can offer Amazon a hugely fertile landscape for other medical services that it then integrates with its existing technologies and offers.

What This Means for You

For you as a customer of either One Medical or Amazon services of any kind, or both, this could mean a new level of affordable primary care. It could however also mean a whole new level of corporate monitoring of your most intimate health details, by a company whose presence is global and pervasively robust in many fields.

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