(Reuters) -Amazon.com Inc has struck a deal to sell virtual medical services to Hilton in the United States, landing a high-profile client for its fledgling healthcare business.
The company declined to disclose the financial terms of its deal with the hotel chain.
The world’s largest online retailer has sought to enroll employers in Amazon Care, its on-demand healthcare offering that allows users to message or video chat with clinicians and receive home visits in some cities. Amazon piloted the service for its employees around Seattle in 2019, and this summer it began marketing Care nationwide to other companies.
The deal with Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc, which Reuters is the first to report, marks Amazon Care’s first hotel customer and only its second disclosed customer after fitness equipment maker Precor. It shows how the company seeks to disrupt the healthcare industry with a proven playbook.
Just as Amazon built data centers to meet its e-commerce needs and then sold access to that infrastructure in what has become its cloud computing business, Amazon is looking to market a healthcare service it has to. first built for the benefit of its employees.
Speaking at Reuters’ Total Health conference on Monday, Kristen Helton, director of Amazon Care, called the deal with Hilton “a big step forward for the company to show that we can provide healthcare to the ‘nationwide to their team members. https://reutersevents.com/events/healthcare
Hilton employed approximately 141,000 people worldwide as of December 31, 2020. All of its US staff enrolled in a corporate health plan will benefit from Amazon Care next year.
This means virtual meetings with clinicians from Care Medical, a company focused on serving Amazon Care users. Amazon also offers home tours in greater Seattle and the Washington-Baltimore metro area, with plans to expand to Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, and Boston.
Helton said employers’ concerns about pandemic safety and recruiting needs during times of labor shortages have contributed to demand.
âAttracting and retaining talent is so essential for businesses right now,â she said.
Hilton covers workers’ access to healthcare and a portion of the visitation costs. Text chats through Amazon Care will be free for hotel chain employees, while vendor videos or home visits are chargeable, she said.
Artificial intelligence (AI) will also play a bigger role in the future.
âWe will have clinicians in the know for a while until we can truly believe that AI and these technological solutions are taking care of the patient in the best way,â Helton said.
Amazon is turning to technology to reduce post-care work for providers and lower costs, although the human connection remains very important, she said.
(Reporting by Jeffrey Dastin in Palo Alto, California; editing by Diane Craft and Edward Tobin)
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