Will Amazon and One Medical's 'marriage' work? We asked hospital chief digital, innovation officers

Health system chief digital and innovation officers told Becker's they're impressed with Amazon's Feb. 22 purchase of One Medical and they believe it spells good things for the future of healthcare.

"The acquisition of One Medical by Amazon should remove any lingering doubt that Amazon is serious about making a real and substantive move into healthcare as well as cementing the notion that any viable healthcare strategy must have at its foundation a robust primary care offering," said Richard Zane, MD, the chief innovation officer at Aurora, Colo.-based UCHealth.

Amazon completed its $3.9 billion deal for the primary care company a day after the Federal Trade Commission said it wouldn't sue to block the sale (though the agency reported that it would continue to investigate possible harms caused by the merger).

"The irony is that the FTC would actually be reducing competition if they stopped the acquisition, so it is great to see it move forward," said Mike Anderes, chief digital officer of Milwaukee-based Froedtert Health and president of its venture capital arm, Inception Health. "It will be a good thing for consumers over time. The combination of Amazon's scale and One Medical's consumer-friendly model will be a good fit for some people. While there is no perfect one-size-fits-all primary care model, this combination will drive all primary care models to improve."

The move gives the tech giant ownership of One Medical's more than 125 primary care clinics and membership-based subscription model that comes with 24-7 video visits and in-app messaging at no extra charge.

"Amazon understands their consumer and how to create highly efficient, customized and frictionless experiences. They see an opportunity to bring that to healthcare," said Eric Smith, senior vice president and chief digital officer of Houston-based Memorial Hermann Health System. "As health systems, we need to continue to push ourselves to do the same: work to provide the most seamless, personalized and convenient experiences possible, that are also still deeply caring and compassionate."

Nontraditional players are expected to own 30 percent of the primary care market by 2030, Bain & Co. estimated in July. The American Hospital Association encouraged hospitals and health systems to partner with these disruptors, which also include CVS, Walgreens, Walmart and Optum.

Amir Dan Rubin, the chair and CEO of One Medical, is the former president and CEO of Palo Alto, Calif.-based Stanford Health Care and former COO of Los Angeles-based UCLA Health and Stony Brook (N.Y.) University Medical Center. He was also an executive vice president and divisional CEO at Optum.

"First, congratulations are in order to Amazon and One Medical on the successful union between two entirely different business models finding a way toward a marriage," said Aaron Miri, senior vice president and chief digital and information officer of Jacksonville, Fla.-based Baptist Health. "As an industry we must embrace alternative payment models, figuring out how to do more with less, and providing even better multimodal care than we traditionally have been.

"This marriage, assuming success, which I always hope for, should be yet another proof point that the way we have always delivered and reimbursed for care isn't going to be the way that we will do it in the future."

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