Amazon's hubris, strategy debates snarled healthcare moves, insiders say

Once designated as a threat to healthcare's legacy stakeholders, Amazon has lost time and edge in its healthcare foray due to overconfidence and internal debates over strategy, a number of insiders told Bloomberg

The news outlet interviewed dozens of current and former Amazon employees, patients, competitors and industry analysts who have followed the company's healthcare efforts for a Nov. 27 article titled, "Amazon Once Inspired Fear in the Health-Care Industry. No Longer."

In it, insiders tell Bloomberg that Amazon is beset by a culture of hubris, fueled by overconfidence that "Silicon Valley-style invention could outsmart industry incumbents," as the authors put it. Amazon handed control over to managers with little or no healthcare experience and neglected guidance from industry experts who were recruited to help inform the tech giant's efforts, former and current personnel told the outlet.

Furthermore, lack of consensus cost the company time and competitive edge. "Debates over strategy consumed years, so by the time Amazon debuted such innovations as online doctor visits, speedy drug delivery and generic drug discounts, they were already commonplace," according to Bloomberg. 

Neil Lindsay, the veteran executive who leads Amazon's Health Services group, told Bloomberg he disagreed with aspects of the critiques and thinks the company is approaching healthcare with humility. "We're going to have some hits and misses, and we're OK with that experimenting and learning," he said. 

Amazon's healthcare efforts date back to at least 2015 with varying levels of uptake and success. 

The company ended its Haven collaborative with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase in February 2021 after three years, closed its Amazon Care app for virtual and in-home visits in December 2022 after two years and closed its Halo wearable program in July 2023 after three years. It has acquired One Medical and integrated memberships into its Prime program, built Amazon Pharmacy upon its 2018 PillPack acquisition, and maintains Amazon Clinic, which opened in November 2022. 

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy has told investors that healthcare is among the company's largest long-term investments.

"If we can make a few things a little bit easier for a lot of people, that's going to go a long way to saving time, saving money, and getting better health outcomes," Mr. Lindsay told Bloomberg. "Of course, our ambitions are bigger than that, and we can see some areas where we can make it a lot easier for many."

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