Amazon’s B2B telehealth strategy and healthcare's future
Amazon is expanding its telehealth services to its employees in the US, with plans to offer the service to other companies as a workplace benefit for their own staff. Despite the rapid adoption of telehealth due to COVID-19, and the organisation having a vast network of consumers at its fingertips, the tech giant is choosing to expand its telehealth services through B2B partnerships rather than out to its customers.
David Bardan, Vice President and Head of Commercial at TytoCare believes that this highlights the strategic importance of a B2B rollout for telehealth. "For over 50% of Americans, employers are the trusted source of health coverage and wellness benefits" Bardan says. By working directly with employers, Amazon is enabling consumers to receive its healthcare offerings within their trusted health and wellness ecosystem, rather than as an add-on outside of their familiar framework."
"Additionally, Amazon has likely turned to B2B partnerships with employers because employers are highly aware of the costs facing the US healthcare sector as a whole, as they often pay the bills. Amazon’s solution helps tackle the challenge of cost by navigating consumers to the right care. Employers are then able to serve as healthcare ambassadors of the Amazon offering for team members."
Amazon has long been leading the way in streamlining access to products and services, and now that the company is turning its attention to healthcare, Bardan believes this will trigger further change across the industry. "By making high-quality care easy to access from the comfort of home, enabling immediate-term relief, peace of mind, and longitudinal wellness, Amazon is joining the ranks of telehealth companies like TytoCare that have been spearheading this shift."
"Consumers today are highly accustomed to on-demand access to everything from groceries to haircuts, and there is a strong appetite for healthcare that can meet them at home, which has long been our goal and is now exactly what Amazon is offering as well."
This means companies that haven't yet invested in high-quality virtual care options risk lagging behind. However Bardan says telehealth adoption will continue to increase over the next few years. "In 2020, there was a huge shift in telehealth adoption, prompting multiple types of healthcare players to think more concretely about their strategy and invest in their virtual care infrastructure.
"In 2021 and beyond, we’ll start to see the pay offs from these investments, including higher quality visits, better clinical and diagnostic tools, and more continuity between virtual and in-person care. We’ll see this trend reinforce itself, in which quality spurs further adoption, spurring further investment. The telehealth technology is here, and consumers have demonstrated their willingness to use it."
Zoom enters the healthcare market - a timeline
Since the pandemic began Zoom has become an integral part of daily life for people working from home, as well as a vital tool for families and friends to communicate. However it's also been eyeing up the healthcare space since 2017, and following the boom in telehealth the company has been rolling out additional services. Here we chart Zoom's move into healthcare.
2011 - 2013
Zoom is founded in San Jose, California, by Eric Yuan, formerly of Cisco. He got the idea to create a video calling platform from his visits to his girlfriend while he was a student, which would take 10 hours by train.
A beta version is released in 2012, which can host up to 15 participants. In 2013 this rises to 25. By mid-2013, Zoom has 1 million users.
2014 - 2017
Zoom attracts investors, including Sequoia Capital, Emergence and Horizon Ventures. By January 2017, Zoom has a series D funding worth $100 million.
2017 - 2019
Zoom for Telehealth launches, including an integration with EHR system Epic. It has cloud-based video, audio, and content sharing features, a "waiting room" for patients, and can easily be integrated into healthcare provider's workflows.
In 2019 Zoom goes public, with its IPO rising 72% in one day.
As a result of the pandemic, Zoom gains 2.2 million new users, more than in the whole of 2019. On the 23rd of March alone - the day the UK lockdown was announced - the platform was downloaded 2.13 million times around the world.
Share prices rise to around $150, and founder and chief executive Eric Yuan becomes one of the world's richest people, with an estimated net worth of $7.9 billion.
Early security issues are addressed by encrypting data with the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). By now the the platform allows 99 people to be on a call simultaneously
New features launch, including Zoom Home and Zoom for Chats. Throughout the year the platform is used to replace most kinds of real life events: work meetings, online classrooms, church services and social events.
Renamed Zoom for Healthcare, users can share secured video, audio, and content through desktops, mobile phones, and conference devices. As well as Epic, it can be integrated with Strmr, IntakeQ, and Practice Better.
It can also be used with diagnostic cameras and other point-of-care devices, including digital stethoscopes.
In an interview with Korea Biomedical Review, Zoom Global Healthcare Lead Ron Emerson said: "Our service is not simply a virtual care and telemedicine platform but a multi-purpose platform that can satisfy the needs of healthcare institutions."
"It can be used for administrative tasks, including telemedicine, medical team meetings, recruitment, medical education, employee training, and disease prevention. Analysing electronic records managed by Zoom could provide meaningful insights into patient care."
Phoenix Children's Hospital, Belfast's Hospital Services Limited, Butler Health Services and the global Project ECHO are among Zoom for Healthcare's current customers.