CVS, Amazon, UnitedHealth using primary care to remake healthcare

Amazon, CVS and UnitedHealth Group are utilizing upstart companies that provide primary care, virtual care and in-home care to try to buy their way into disrupting the healthcare industry, The Wall Street Journal reported Sept. 9.   

Because the U.S. health system rewards more expensive procedures, medical students prefer to become cardiologists or surgeons, causing a nationwide shortage of primary care physicians, according to the Journal

This has led many patients to abandon the relationship with their primary care physicians, leading to worse health outcomes. At the same time, the pandemic has made many patients more comfortable using telehealth and digital health startups.

This is where Amazon, CVS and UnitedHealth see opportunity. 

UnitedHealth's medical provider arm, Optum Care, has been buying multispecialty physician practices, with a focus on managing patients through home, virtual and on-site care. 

The company also most recently announced that it will provide analytics to 15 Walmart Health centers in Florida and Georgia to deliver value-based care to Medicare patients.

Amazon and CVS have a similar strategy. 

Investments in value-based care —like Amazon's planned acquisition of virtual and primary care company One Medical — can realign incentives as physicians at concierge-style primary care practices like One Medical can earn about double what other family physicians make, Brian Tanquilut, a financial analyst, told the Journal

CVS also reportedly looked at buying One Medical but ended up entering into an agreement to acquire home health company Signify Health for $8 billion. 

These moves are a testament that there is a lot of money to be made by trying to fix America's inefficient health system, according to the Journal.

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