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Amazon launches virtual clinic for Seattle-based employees

Anjalee Khemlani
·Senior Reporter
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Amazon (AMZN) is creating a virtual clinic for employees and their dependents in the Seattle area, the company said on Wednesday, marking its latest foray into health care.

Amazon’s new site, Amazon Care, details four different app-based service options such as chat, video, mobile and a courier service that delivers prescriptions. The company is contracting with a local provider, Oasis Medical, to manage the program.

An Amazon spokesperson told Yahoo Finance the new pilot will help employees get faster access to health care.

“We’re currently piloting a healthcare benefit designed to help Amazon employees get fast access to healthcare without an appointment, at the convenience of their schedules, at their preferred location” either on-site or working remotely, according to the spokesperson.

“Amazon Care eliminates travel and wait time, connecting employees and their family members to a physician or nurse practitioner through live chat or video, with the option for in-person follow up services from a registered nurse ranging from immunizations to instant strep throat detection,” the spokesperson added.

FILE - In this Nov. 13, 2018, file photo, employees walk through a lobby at Amazon's headquarters in Seattle.  Many of Amazon’s Seattle-area employees will likely be exempt from new proposed labor protections after a push by the tech giant’s lobbyists to raise the salary threshold at which the rules would kick in. The changes would partially prohibit so-called non-compete clauses, agreements widely used by tech companies and others to prohibit employees from going to work for competitors. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
FILE - In this Nov. 13, 2018, file photo, employees walk through a lobby at Amazon's headquarters in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

Though services are currently only available in Seattle, the company said it intends to expand services throughout the country for employees.

On-site clinics have existed at major companies for years — a particular staple at manufacturing plants, where work-related injuries were treated. As those jobs decreased, the need for onsite care decreased as well.

But there has been a resurgence in the trend of on-site primary care services—largely through third-party providers—in what is seen as a cost-saving move for employers.

Yahoo Finance's All Markets Summit on October 10
Yahoo Finance's All Markets Summit on October 10

With primary care services in place, companies allow employees access to health care without needing to take time off of work, and it prevents costly emergency care visits from neglected symptoms or issues.

A recent survey of 109 companies from the Texas-based National Association of Worksite Health Centers showed that almost three quarters said they have onsite clinics. According to the poll, 45 percent said they plan to add a site in the next two years.

Anjalee Khemlani is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @AnjKhem

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