Amazon's One Medical scrutinized for its handling of some patient calls

Amazon's One Medical is facing scrutiny after leaked documents show one of its call centers failed to escalate calls from senior patients with urgent symptoms, The Washington Post reported June 15.

The Tempe, Ariz., call center for senior patients was created last year "to increase access and quality of care." The call center is staffed by employees and contractors with limited training and little to no medical experience. When they receive a call, they are supposed to triage patients and escalate calls to a virtual medical staff member for 17 "red flag" symptoms. However, a spreadsheet that tracked incidents flagged by medical professionals between Feb. 19 and March 18 showed dozens of calls that were not properly escalated. Many of the calls involved older patients with concerns such as blood clots, pain and swelling and tight chest. 

"While we are confident in our safety protocol … we take feedback from our providers seriously and will always address anything that is less than a great experience," Amazon spokeswoman Dawn Brun told the Post. She added that Amazon is not involved in patient care decisions and is not aware of any patients who were harmed because of the call center errors.

The call center was part of an effort to centralize support systems to make phone calls faster and free up clinic time. Amazon said patient visits have increased from about five per day per physician to as many as 14 per day. 

Amazon acquired One Medical in February 2023 for $3.9 billion. Since the deal, the company has eliminated free rides, shortened appointments and laid off staff. The call center incidents are raising more concerns about Amazon's frugal approach to healthcare.

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