How Amazon Is Using IoT to Care for Its Employees

Amazon is putting IoT to work in the health space in a major way. From doctor visits and prescriptions to improved communication, is Amazon Care the future of healthcare?

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Illustration: © IoT For All

Of course, we already know about wearable devices people can use to track their heart rates, activity levels, fitness goals and more. In fact, some companies even incentivize employees to use those gadgets to get extra perks for being a worker who’s especially committed to their well-being.

However, Amazon is using IoT devices to give workers resources to use when they’re sick. It’s all happening through their new program called Amazon Care.

What Is Amazon Care?

Amazon Care is an extension of a traditional health insurance plan. The company is currently piloting it for some of its Seattle employees. People are eligible if they work at Amazon or are a dependant of someone who does, are enrolled in health insurance offered by the brand and work in one of the areas where the program is available.

This IoT-based benefit is a smartphone app that connects participants to the care they receive from medical professionals online or in-person. Amazon says one of the major advantages of this new service is that people can get the health care they need without sitting in waiting rooms.

People who sign up for Amazon Care can use it for their urgent care needs and sexual health concerns, as well as things related to preventive medicine including vaccinations and lab work. If someone’s getting ready to travel abroad and needs tips for staying healthy while there, an Amazon Care employee can provide those, too.

If a person’s diagnosis requires treatment with prescription medicine, a person called a Care Courier can bring it to a patient’s home or office, often within two hours. Alternatively, the prescription can be dispatched to a local pharmacy so the person can pick up the medication later.

How Does Amazon Care Work?

Once a person verifies their eligibility for Amazon Care, they’re ready to start using the service. It’s available on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m and on weekends from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

After a user indicates that they have a health concern, the app screen gives them the choice of talking to a health care provider via text chat or video stream. The medical expert uses one of those methods to communicate with the person and find out more about what they need.

If the medical provider determines the app user needs a face-to-face evaluation, a health professional is dispatched to that person’s location. Also, the individual can look in the app and see a map of where the provider is, plus their estimated arrival time. Virtual doctors represented one of the top tech trends of 2019, and their popularity shows no signs of slowing.

People appreciate being able to use an app to see a doctor without leaving their homes. Many apps also have monitoring and messaging components, allowing doctors and patients to stay in touch outside of a medical facility.

Concerning Amazon Care specifically, there’s a care summary component of the app that gives the details of a person’s diagnosis, any notes from the doctor and their recommended treatment plan. If users prefer to see that content outside of the app, they can view the material as a PDF.

As someone uses the app, it’s also possible for them to fill out a profile that includes pertinent information, such as the patient’s health history and payment details.

The Future of Health Care

Although Amazon Care is still in the early stages and is only available to a limited number of employees, IoT will likely continue facilitating a move away from the traditional ways of receiving health care. No longer will patients have to drive to a medical practice and wait for a visit with a doctor. When someone’s feeling unwell, being in public is often one of the last things they want to do.

The option to stay at home and get health care through a connected device makes sense for patient convenience reasons. Conventional doctor’s offices won’t go out of business entirely, but people may start using them less often because they can, and they prefer it.

Analysts also think investments in these kinds of high-tech medical opportunities could cut costs for businesses. Numerous companies have exercised more control over health care for their workers, either through virtual visits or on-site health clinics.

In another recent example, Walmart urges people to use a dedicated app or website to guide their health needs. The brand’s system uses big data analysis to determine which providers in the network have histories of the best outcomes. People can then avail of reports about individual physicians, including those offering specialized care.

It’s easy to see how Walmart’s approach could save money for the company and lead to more satisfaction from patients. The people who need health care don’t have to spend as much time deciding which providers to see, and the fact that they’re encouraged to see top-performing professionals means Walmart’s health coverage won’t go toward doctors that might not give the best service.

IoT Medical Access Is Rising

A primary reason why IoT-driven medical care suits today’s society is that so many people have compatible gadgets. Getting sick happens, and access to care is crucial for helping people stay healthy. Given that many individuals keep smartphones within arm’s reach, it’s not surprising that leading enterprises — Amazon included — have decided to embrace IoT and explore how it could improve well-being.