Amazon Clinic Serves Up Message-Based Healthcare For Some Common Conditions

Amazon is attempting a second venture into health and medical services with its new telehealth service, dubbed "Amazon Clinic." This endeavor rolls out on the coattails of news that the retail giant will lay off thousands and is sunsetting Amazon Care — its underwhelming attempt at providing urgent and primary care services — at the end of this year.

Despite this turbulence, the Clinic service is available as of today. It uses message-based communications to connect users and providers for treatment of over 20 simple and common conditions, such as acne, dandruff, erectile dysfunction, smoking cessation, heartburn, allergies, genital herpes, UTIs, and hair loss. Birth control is available through Amazon Clinic, too, but only pill prescriptions — the clinicians can't advise on implants or IUDs. 

According to Amazon, patients first fill out a questionnaire and upload pictures if necessary. They are then prompted to choose a clinic based on price, services offered, and provider profiles. The providers are always based in the United States, Amazon says, and will communicate via messaging — no video or phone chats necessary — to set up a treatment and prescription plan.

Basic health services for a flat fee

While Amazon Clinic doesn't accept any health insurance right now, FSA and HSA accounts can be used to pay the flat fee for the clinic's services. A report in The Verge says that Amazon Clinic services cost as much or less than the average copay. 

Patients can message the clinic for any necessary follow-ups or questions for two weeks after the initial treatment plan for no additional cost, Amazon says. Prices will vary for each online clinic and treatment, and while patients can fill their prescriptions through Amazon Pharmacy, those medications are not included in the cost. 

Patients can also renew medications for preexisting conditions like migraines, high blood pressure, and asthma, but certain preexisting conditions — genital herpes, eczema, and rosacea — will require a prior diagnosis, Amazon says. 

Amazon states that its Amazon Clinic service "isn't intended" for people that qualify for state or federal medical insurance.