Amazon adds video medical consultations to its virtual clinics

Amazon’s Virtual Clinic, which launched last year, has added video visits across the United States.

The large retailer said Tuesday that 24/7 shifts are available through Amazon’s website or app. There, they can compare prices and response times, then choose a telehealth provider from several options.

The clinic does not accept medical insurance. It started to provide services a year ago, mainly providing SMS consultation, which is still available in 34 states in the United States.

Amazon said the clinic provides care for about three dozen common health conditions.

Virtual healthcare, or telemedicine, has boomed with the COVID-19 pandemic. It remains a convenient vehicle for routine checkups or for the treatment of relatively minor problems such as urinary tract infections or acute conjunctivitis.

Amazon said its virtual clinic will also treat erectile dysfunction.

Dr. Nworah Ayogu, the company’s medical director, said on his blog that the clinic works to remove barriers to caring for “everyday health concerns.”

“As a physician, I have seen first-hand patients who want to be healthy but lack the time, tools or resources to effectively manage their care,” Ayogu wrote.

The average fee for a messaging consultation is $35, while a video appointment costs $75, Amazon said.

It’s less expensive than an in-person appointment, which can often exceed $100 for patients without health insurance or coverage with high deductibles.

While virtual appointments may allow for more visits, some physicians worry it will spread care and make it difficult to keep track of patient records. This can happen if the patient’s GP is unaware of the virtual appointment with another professional.

In addition to virtual care, Amazon also sells prescription drugs through its Amazon Pharmacy business and has expanded its presence in patient care.

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