Last month, global technology and e-commerce giant Amazon and telemedicine company Teladoc announced a landmark new initiative: providing virtual care through Amazon Alexa devices.
The announcement indicates that “Customers in the U.S. will now be able to connect with a Teladoc care provider 24/7 from supported Echo devices for general medical needs. Teladoc on Alexa will initially launch via audio with video visits coming soon.”
Donna Boyer, Chief Product Officer of Teladoc, explained further: “Teladoc Health’s collaboration with Amazon is yet another step in breaking down barriers to healthcare access […] By introducing and integrating our virtual first care experience with Echo devices, we are providing an innovative and convenient way for users to connect with a doctor. We are meeting consumers where they are, to continue to deliver value and high-quality care to members.”
Indeed, this is a huge milestone for both companies. Teladoc went public in a deal worth nearly $157 million dollars in 2015, right when digital health and telehealth were becoming more prominent concepts in care delivery. However, Teladoc found its true stride during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, when people worldwide were forced into isolation and quarantine—highlighting the value of virtual care services. Indeed, the concept has significant promise in solving many modern day healthcare problems.
Congruently, Amazon has continued to make its own strides in healthcare. With the launch of Amazon Care as well as its robust pharmaceutical services, the company is slowly but surely developing an entire ecosystem which will likely soon become a mainstream modus of care delivery.
Now, with this new partnership, both companies are significantly increasing their reach. With 100s of millions of Alexa devices currently in use, the potential value of this partnership is endless. It provides consumers with a convenient, easy, and creative way to get their healthcare services inside of their own homes.
The process is relatively simple: “To get started, customers can say, ‘Alexa, I want to talk to a doctor,’ to their supported Echo device to get connected with the Teladoc call center. Customers will then get a call back on their Echo devices from a Teladoc doctor for virtual visits related to non-emergency health needs, such as experiencing symptoms of a cold, flu, or allergies. The cost per visit can be as low as $0 per visit with insurance or $75 without insurance.”
Of course, this is undoubtedly the first of many more similar partnerships to come. Assuredly, Alphabet (Google) has significant potential to expand in this area, as the company’s Google Home product is even more prevalent than Amazon Alexa in households throughout the country. It is only a matter of time before the company will pursue a similar path in providing its customer base with convenient telehealth solutions.
In its own respect, Google has expanded its role in healthcare significantly. Its Care Studio platform is a promising effort in improving clinical management and working with electronic health record (EHR) companies to optimize patient care. Furthermore, Google’s prowess in data consolidation and analytics is industry leading, bar none. This provides Google with an unparalleled advantage in potentially developing a product that can provide value to consumer’s at-home healthcare needs.
Indeed, the landmark deal between Amazon and Teladoc signals a new era of healthcare: one that focuses on convenience, ease, and a patient-first mentality. Undoubtedly, there will be many more similar initiatives in this ecosystem in the years to come.