Amazon buys online medical care provider as it expands into healthcare

One Medical is the latest acquisition by the e-commerce giant, which first entered the pharmaceutical business in 2020

Amazon logo at the Romulus, Michigan distribution center.
Amazon logo at the Romulus, Michigan distribution center.Paul Sancya (AP)

Amazon Inc on Thursday agreed to buy primary care provider One Medical, expanding the e-commerce giant’s virtual healthcare and adding brick-and-mortar doctors’ offices for the first time. The deal is valued at $3.9 billion including One Medical’s net debt.

The deal would combine two relatively small players as Amazon continues a years-long march into US healthcare, seeking to grow at a faster pace.

The online retailer first piloted virtual care visits for its own staff in Seattle in 2019 before offering services to other employers under the Amazon Care brand. It likewise bought online pharmacy PillPack in 2018, underpinning a prescription delivery and price-comparison site it later launched.

“We think healthcare is high on the list of experiences that need reinvention,” said Neil Lindsay, senior vice president of Amazon Health Services.

The Seattle-based retailer has signaled its ambitions to improve and speed up care. However, a big idea akin to how Amazon has automated the role of cashiers in grocery stores has yet to emerge.

In One Medical, Amazon is acquiring a loss-making company with 767,000 members and enterprise clients such as Airbnb Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google, which offer its services as a benefit to employees, according to its website and recent financial results. One Medical, founded in 2007, now gives Amazon 188 medical offices, its recent financial report showed.

Scrutiny expected

US Senator Amy Klobuchar, who is also the Chairwoman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights on Thursday urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate Amazon’s proposed deal, expressing concerns over the acquisition’s implications for personal health data.

“Amazon has a history of engaging in business practices that raise serious anticompetitive concerns, including forcing small businesses on its site to buy its logistics services as a condition of preferred platform placement, using small businesses’ non-public data to compete against them.....” the senator added in her statement.

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