opinion | Amazon Can’t Fix America’s Healthcare Crisis

What if you could get health care as quickly and easily as you would with socks and cat litter? It seems fantastic in a country where people live death Waiting to see the doctor, but Amazon thought it could do to health care what it did for shopping. praised As the “future of medicine”, AmazonCare’s telehealth and home calling service has been Set up To employers as “high-quality care, peace of mind.”

But the company announced last week Amazon Care will be closed At the end of this year. to me again Within two years, Amazon had to admit failure in an attempt to take on the American healthcare system. It might be possible to deliver the spoon to someone’s apartment within 24 hours, but applying the same approach to healthcare seems like a longer order.

However, Amazon is not giving up: it planning to buy One Medical, a membership-based primary care provider with personal and remote health services in 19 cities. One Medical could prove a better business bet, but there isn’t much of a solution to bringing the healthcare system to fruition here.

Any company that claims that its innovations will revolutionize American healthcare is itself selling fiction. There is no technological miracle waiting around the corner that will solve the problems caused by decades of neglected and rampant political decisions. Forgery. A reform that targets only the top tier of employer-sponsored health coverage has no hope of providing health care more affordable For those who are really left behind.

Amazon Care and One Medical saw the same market opportunity in the crisis-ridden US healthcare system: a paid escape hatch for the wealthy. Not the really wealthy – they’ve always had a concierge on call – but a middle to upper class worker who has a job and insurance, and yet can’t believe how hard it is to just see a doctor.

medical one, set himself up Being “not an ordinary doctor’s office,” it lets people with resources skip some of the hassle and wait for American healthcare, while promising longer appointments and friendlier doctors. its offices concentrated in wealthier areas and do not accept Medicaid, which pays caregivers much less than private insurance and tends to cover the sickest patients who need More expensive care.

Amazon will have a big job to make One Medical work: The company, which charges $199 a year for membership, hasn’t been profitable, loser $91 million in the first quarter of 2022.

AmazonCare hopes companies will pay their employees for telehealth and on-demand home care, allowing them to skip the process of finding a provider in their insurance network, scheduling an appointment that could take weeks and take time off work to go to. Amazon is sending a nurse to you, ‘to give people precious time in their day,’ on its website a promise.

But those promises exceeded reality. Shortly before announcing the closure of AmazonCare, The Washington Post mentioned That former clinical staff claimed the service “prioritized patient satisfaction over providing the best standards of care,” in an effort to scale it up too quickly to establish good practices. Telehealth providers have struggled with regulations and logistics for patient care in many states, unsure whether they can prescribe antibiotics or where to refer patients for X-rays.

The Post also reported that Amazon asked nurses to “store and dispose of medical supplies at home and install patients’ blood samples using centrifuges in their personal vehicles.” (Amazon told The Post that mobile nurses have been provided with disposal equipment. The company said it prioritizes patient and employee safety.)

The project’s approach to business was a feature of Amazon. One of the nurses who formerly worked at Care Medical, the independent company founded and primarily controlled by Amazon that provided actual health care to Amazon Care, told The Post that the contract nurses who employed “essentially gig workers, and their training was really substandard.” She also said that an Amazon employee told her that the nurses are considered “Amazon Care warehouse workers.”

It’s scary to hear, given the years of complaints from Amazon warehouse workers unfairuntil dangerous working conditions. Amazon’s branding is fast and convenient – for the customer. The price for this speed is relentless toil and sometimes impossible to meet workers standards, which results in very high turnover. Such a model is difficult to maintain for a healthcare company, with workers typically requiring years of training, and mid-term nursing Shortage.

I encountered a medical one accusations from delivering profits before patient care, too, with employees complaining that executives have cut hiring periods and set unrealistic expectations for call center employees since the company went public in 2020. (One Medical has denied the accusations.)

Replacing the easy parts from Primary Care is easy. But part of the reason AmazonCare struggles is that not all aspects of primary care are so simple that it can be done in your home or through a video consultation (which nonetheless is a valuable service that will no doubt stay here). For anything more complicated, patients still have to visit the traditional clinic, which means they’ll have to deal with all the most stressful things about American healthcare: insurance, phone calls, drug prices — if they can. take a vacation To visit a doctor at all.

At the same time, Amazon Care has struggled to provide enough services to compete with other remote and in-person health providers, including One Medical, which has about 200 physical services. Locations And partnerships with more than 8000 companies.

Amazon is right about one thing: American Primary Care is troubled. packet Evidence Good primary care has been shown to improve health and lower costs, yet primary care is one of the worst paying areas of medicine. Independent practices are increasingly being Absorbs With large hospital systems, which can make money more easily from referrals to their specialists; This process as well Raises health care costs. America spends more than twice as much as other rich countries on health care, while also enjoying worse health Results. We have everything back.

This imbalance is caused by a jungle of poorly understood financing systems. Hospitals say that lose money in treating Medicaid and Medicare patients, and therefore must charge more private insurance to make up the shortfall. Prices are negotiated with insurance companies for thousands of individual procedures and services, but even the hospitals themselves may not know How these numbers relate to any real costs incurred. Insurance companies offer increasing A portion of their huge profits were made by running Medicare Advantage plans, which received billions of dollars in swell Payments To claim that their patients are sicker than they are. Wealthy Hospitals abounding In rich areas while rural hospitals are closed.

Amazon might think it could fix anything with enough money, technology and logistics, but Amazon Care had no hope of solving this mess. Against most companies selling products in America, Amazon is a goliath. Put him against the woes of the American healthcare system, and he looks like David with a slingshot made of wet spaghetti.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.