It’s one thing to have a company know what type of movies you like, your spending habits, or how many times you ask Alexa a question each day. But it is quite another thing to have a larger-than-life company involved in your daily health decisions or to have your vital health data on hand in your profile. This week Amazon is making a move to cement their hold on the healthcare industry by purchasing One Medical, and not everyone is happy about it.
Health Delivered to Your Doorstep
Amazon has grown exponentially during the pandemic when their home delivery services were sought after. And this week Amazon is trying to broaden their reach into the healthcare industry, having bid to acquire One Medical for $3.9B, in an all-cash deal. The move by Amazon will cement their foray into the world of medical healthcare which has been building for several years. Regulators and One Medical’s shareholders still need to approve the deal before it is finalized.
“There is an immense opportunity to make the health care experience more accessible, affordable, and even enjoyable for patients, providers, and payers,” Amir Dan Rubin, One Medical’s CEO, said in a statement.
One Medical is a subscription-based medical company with over 180 clinics across the United States. Founded in 2007 in San Francisco, the company services 16 markets across the country, with three more coming soon. The company has over 767K members, and over 8K companies offer One Medical health benefits to their employees.
Supersize Your Healthcare
Amazon has been infiltrating the healthcare industry for several years, trying to add their obvious skill in bringing people what they want to the healthcare field. “We think health care is high on the list of experiences that need reinvention,” Neil Lindsay said.
This is the broadest move into the healthcare industry for Amazon since they bought online pharmacy PillPack in 2018m for $753M. Amazon had previously bought a healthy grocery chain, Whole Foods in 2017 with a price tag of $13.7B.
“The question is, as you sort of put all of these pieces together, could they create a much more convenient, holistic health care experience for people?” Neinstein said. “What Amazon has become known for is they really understand as a consumer what you want and how to get it to you really easily.”
Dr. Matthew Sakumoto, a clinician and digital health expert based in San Francisco, said “I think it’s going to be tough. I think even currently these pieces exist in silos kind of within Amazon’s ecosystem, but if they can pull it together, I think it can offer a very holistic experience that we’ve really been missing in U.S. health care,” he said.
What Could Go Wrong?
Not everyone is excited about Amazon’s foray into the healthcare industry. For a company that wants to spread as far as the Amazon River and whose motto has always been “get big fast,” there is cause for worry where sensitive health data is concerned.
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, who is also the Chairwoman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights immediately urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate the proposal by Amazon, citing worries about the implication for the safety of personal health data. “Amazon has a history of engaging in business practices that raise serious anticompetitive concerns,” the Senator added in her statement.
“Amazon having backdoor access to private health care data is frankly a terrifying thought and calls into focus how desperately Congress needs to pass antitrust reform to prevent these tech giants from abusing their monopoly power,” Sacha Haworth, executive director of the Tech Oversight Project advocacy group, told CNN Business in a statement.
Amazon is quick to explain that everything will be above board with its dealings with personal information. “As required by law, Amazon will never share One Medical customers’ personal health information outside of One Medical for advertising or marketing purposes of other Amazon products and services without clear permission from the customer,” an Amazon spokesperson said in an email.
“Pushing forward into healthcare raises some serious red flags, especially in the post-Roe reality where peoples’ data can be used to criminalize their reproductive healthcare decisions,” Seeley George said, campaign director for Fight for the Future, an advocacy group focused on technology and digital rights.
Though opponents say this is a slippery slope of too much personal data in the wrong hands, Amazon is poised to streamline the healthcare process for people around the globe, while they utilize some of their excellent business strategies to make it happen.