Amazon is forging ahead with its ambitious vision to re-imagine healthcare. Its latest initiative in this effort is to start integrating two of its most successful ventures: Amazon Pharmacy and One Medical.
Amazon Pharmacy revealed that it is piloting a program to provide pharmacy consultation services to One Medical providers, specifically for those that see high risk and complex care patients through initiatives like the One Medical Seniors at Home program. Both silos have been incredibly successful in their own right. One Medical is a primary care service that Amazon completed acquisition of in early 2023; the organization provides in-office and 24/7 virtual care services with the goal of improving the quality and accessibility of primary care and chronic care management. Similarly, Amazon Pharmacy has seen incredible success in its mission to transform medication access and management; just in October of last year, the organization started piloting even faster access via drone delivery, indicating its commitment to continued innovation.
This new pilot program enables One Medical providers to easily request pharmacist consultations for things such as simple medication reviews or for more complicated needs, such as a comprehensive review of medication interactions.
Dr. Vin Gupta, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of Amazon Pharmacy, explains that the concept of getting pharmacist consultations in inpatient/hospital settings is quite common—however, the practice is nearly non-existent in outpatient settings. Ironically, however, outpatient settings frequently entail complicated medication management issues, especially when it comes to senior and complex care populations. This is where Amazon Pharmacy can help, especially in the broader context of Amazon’s healthcare ecosystem, Dr. Gupta explains: “people are always asking about how our services are connected, and this just seems like such a natural way to interconnect some of our best resources.”
Tess Carey, PharmD, a Program Manager with Amazon Pharmacy, explains that through a simple messaging platform, One Medical providers that are a part of the pilot program can request consultation for a variety of services from a pharmacist including detailed medication review, new patient intake support, and one of the most popular requests—reviewing medication side effects to reduce fall risks in senior populations. Carey says that the primary goal of the service is to “increase access to clinical pharmacy expertise for these providers and give them an opportunity to provide amazing care.”
The empirical research that supports this concept is unwavering. An article published by the American Academy of Family Physicians found that clinical pharmacists can provide immense value in primary care settings in a variety of ways, including drug monitoring, chronic care management, de-prescribing and finding the ideal therapeutics combination.
Inpatient care settings often take this for granted given the relatively easier access to pharmaceutical expertise; however, given the majority of patient care still occurs in outpatient settings, there is a significant opportunity to improve outcomes. This is what Dr. Gupta poignantly describes as the goal for the program: “This isn’t about money and this isn’t about profitability; this is about ensuring great clinical outcomes.”
Though still in the pilot phase, if successful, the collaboration between Amazon Pharmacy and One Medical may continue to evolve into a larger program and become a staple for outpatient providers. It may also inspire other primary care providers in the industry to follow suit, especially as corporate organizations are increasingly starting to enter the space. Given the sheer demand for primary care services in the United States, if executed safely and scaled appropriately, programs like this have immense potential to positively impact millions of patient lives.