Amazon is hiring a high-profile public health expert and clinician to help it strategize how to deliver better care for its workers, a person familiar with the company's thinking told CNBC.
The company plans to add Vin Gupta as a principal scientist to its growing Amazon Care team later this month, the person said. Gupta, a self-described "lung doc" with a background in pulmonary medicine, previously worked as a consultant to Apple, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Amazon acknowledged in September that it is piloting Amazon Care, a virtual medical clinic for Amazon employees based near its Seattle offices. Months later, the company has started making key hires, which indicates that it is looking to convert the group's pilot status into something more concrete. It's part of Amazon's larger push into the $3.5 trillion health care sector, which includes its PillPack team that's working in medication delivery, a variety of efforts to structure health data within its cloud service AWS, and its work to bring Alexa's voice technology into the patient's hospital room and home.
Amazon Care currently offers an app for employees to get virtual-only health advice and medical visits, but there's an option for an in-person consult via a health professional that will show up at their home or office. The medical staff are hired through a separate legal entity, known as Oasis Medical, which ensures that Amazon doesn't have direct knowledge of its workers' health.
Its focus on delivering medical care virtually isn't new -- lots of employers and insurance plans will work with third-parties to offer apps for that. But it relatively unique to see an large tech employer getting into care delivery, which puts it in a position to collect insights and data on whether its approach is moving the needle.
Gupta writes about public health topics for NBC, the New York Times and other outlets, and has worked as a health policy researcher and assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine. Gupta has also worked as a volunteer advisor for Joe Biden's "Biden for President" group, and as a pandemic policy consultant for the World Bank, via his LinkedIn.
He's written about the health impacts of vaping, the rise of antibiotic resistance, and recently penned an opinion column for the New York Times where he encouraged Congress to explore "digital interventions."
Amazon and Gupta declined to offer a comment for this story.
Gupta will join other high-profile medical hires to Amazon Care, including telemedicine expert Kristi Henderson.