Tech

Amazon extends telemedicine pilot to warehouse employees in Seattle area

Key Points
  • Amazon Care is now expanding its service beyond its initial focus on office workers in Seattle to encompass fulfillment center workers in the area. 
  • Amazon Care offers an app to connect employees to a medical professional for consultations, as well as in-care home.
  • The virtual visits are available for free until May 31. 
Billie Her, a warehouse associate, wraps plastic around a pallet of boxes at Amazon's Fulfillment Center in Thornton, Colorado.
Helen H. Richardson| The Denver Post | Getty Images

Amazon Care, the pilot program offering virtual medical services to employees, has expanded beyond its initial focus on Seattle-area office workers and their dependents, and is now available to those who work in Amazon warehouses nearby the company's headquarters. 

Amazon Care currently offers an app to connect employees to a medical professional for a video consultation. It also offers followup care in the home for patients who require it. 

"We are pleased to extend this benefit to eligible fulfillment center employees and their families in the Greater Seattle area. Amazon Care eliminates travel and wait time, connecting employees and their family members to a doctor, nurse practitioner, or registered nurse through live chat or video, with the option for in-person follow up services from a registered nurse ranging from immunizations to instant strep throat detection," an Amazon spokesperson told CNBC. 

The expansion was a planned one, but comes at an important time. Several workers in fulfillment centers around the country have died from Covid-19, and many employees have pushed the company to do more to protect them from the virus while they're on the job. Despite growing pressure to do so, the company hasn't provided a total number of workers who have tested positive for the virus at its facilities. 

On its website, the company says that it is waiving costs for its virtual medical service until May 31st for all health concerns -- not just those related to Covid-19. The fees for a medical visit are normally subsidized by Amazon, but enrolling in the app to get general health advice is free. 

Those eligible for the virtual medical service, according to the FAQ on the company's website, have to be enrolled in an Amazon-sponsored health plan. "Amazon employees who are enrolled in Kaiser Permanente are unable to participate at this time," the website reads. 

The group, which is just one of Amazon's various health initiatives, has also been working with local officials and nonprofits to deliver testing to the home for those who suspect they're infected with Covid-19. Amazon Care offered to help come up with a delivery plan, at no cost, so the test kits can be delivered within a few hours.

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