Amazon has snapped up small healthcare startup Health Navigator to help power its recently-launched primary care program for employees. The deal is Amazon’s second purchase the healthcare space following the acquisition of online pharmacy PillPack last year.
La Grange, Ill.-based Health Navigator operates a platform that helps healthcare providers serve patients remotely with telemedicine services such as symptom checkers and chatbots.
The deal is meant to add more capabilities to Amazon Care, a program that combines telemedicine checkups, at-home or in-office doctor’s visits, and prescription deliveries.
For now, Amazon Care is only available to employees, but the acquisition is a sign that the company may scale the service. Amazon previously said that it would roll the program out to employees in other cities if the pilot goes well.
CNBC’s Christina Farr first reported the acquisition news.
Amazon Care for now is a pilot for employees. But the company often tests services with its own people first.
Health Navigator could be an important tool for the company as it looks to send patients to the right place, whether it’s a clinic, a nurse to the home or the ER.
— Christina Farr (@chrissyfarr) October 23, 2019
In addition to giving employees more convenient access to healthcare, Amazon Care also has the potential to reduce the amount of time that patients spend out of the office at doctor’s office or sick at home.
Health Navigator was founded five years ago by Dr. David Thompson, who is known for helping to establish the Schmitt-Thompson protocols, a set of industry-standard guidelines that are used to triage patients over the telephone. He is also the former chief information officer at ECI Healthcare Partners.
Amazon-owned PillPack has faced stiff pushback from healthcare industry giants CVS and Surescripts, who have tried to block the company from accessing drug data and hiring top talent.
The retail giant must also contend with cloud rivals who want a piece of the healthcare pie. Microsoft has been breaking into healthcare through a spate of partnerships with large health organizations, while Google continues to push its artificial intelligence capabilities into drug development and discovery.