Competing with Amazon Health: How Hospitals and Medical Groups Can Outpace Competitors

With the expansion of Amazon Health’s virtual and primary care services announced in November 2023, the healthcare industry faces increasing competition from the tech giant. Health system leaders wonder how they can compete with behemoths like Amazon and Walmart Health, and maintain patients within their care-networks, which are often built over decades and with substantial capital and human investment. We believe that Health Systems can compete with these retail giants by utilizing the following strategies: 

Emphasizing the value of in-person care and the patient relationships established by hospitals and health systems: Health systems should highlight the importance of the personal touch and continuity of care they provide. For example, a patient may have a long-term relationship with their primary care physician, who knows their medical history and can provide personalized care based on that knowledge. This level of familiarity and trust is difficult to replicate in a virtual setting, but virtual engagement can help deepen existing patient relationships. Consistent communication, personalized messages, and platforms that allow patients to contact their medical teams at their convenience are important ways to strengthen patient bonds and loyalty.

Providing convenient and easy access to clinical care:

One of the main advantages that attracts patients to Amazon Health is how it allows simple access to healthcare services. Hospitals should invest in technology and education to offer on-demand telehealth services, virtual visits, and multiple access points, ensuring patients can easily and conveniently receive the care they need. 

For example, hospitals can partner with AI-enabled platforms such as Steer Health that allow patients to schedule or change appointments online for in-person or virtual care. This reduces the barriers to accessing care and enhances the patient experience.

Streamlining administrative processes:Traditional healthcare systems often struggle with poor patient experiences, long wait times, lack of transparency, and legacy technology. By improving efficiency, reducing costs, and enhancing the overall patient experience through streamlined administrative processes, hospitals can better compete with the convenience offered by Amazon Health. 

For example, hospitals can implement platforms like Steer Health that allow for seamless communication and information sharing between healthcare providers, reducing the need for unnecessary paperwork and improving the coordination of care.

Collaborating with technology companies:

Partnering with technology companies can provide hospitals with access to expertise and resources to enhance their capabilities and innovation, enabling them to keep pace with Amazon Health. 

For example, hospitals can collaborate with telehealth platforms or artificial intelligence companies to develop innovative solutions that improve patient care and outcomes. For example, 

Steer Health, with its AI-enabled platform, has helped over 50 hospitals and 300+ clinics improve patient communication, access, and patient satisfaction while reducing staff and provider burnout. These partnerships can leverage the expertise of technology companies while allowing hospitals to focus on their core competencies in patient care.

 

Build enhanced data privacy: Amazon has long-standing problems controlling access to customer information. InfoSec staffers warned of an unnerving “inability to detect security incidents.” Patient data is some of the most sensitive information a customer can share. This means that a lack of data protection strategies can have frightening consequences for providers and patients. For healthcare, one of the strategies to outpace players like Amazon is to build a secure infrastructure. This includes the controlled use of third-party vendors for marketing, the encrypted integration of data that is shared between different digital entities, etc., as well as strict adherence to HIPAA controls.

 

Remain agile and set an environment that supports innovation and resilience: In a rapidly evolving healthcare landscape, hospitals must embrace a culture of continuous adaptation and innovation. By staying ahead of emerging trends, incorporating new technology, and exploring novel approaches to care delivery, hospitals can remain competitive and meet the changing needs of patients.

Amazon Health will continue to build its footprint in the industry. Ignoring this seismic shift in healthcare isn’t just a missed opportunity; it’s a gamble with significant consequences.While competitors adapt to the evolving landscape, those healthcare organizations who fail to adopt risk falling behind and facing financial setbacks, creating a ripple effect that’s hard to recover from.

It’s not too late to compete with the giant. Hospitals and medical groups need to emphasize the value of in-person care, provide convenient and easy access to clinical care, streamline administrative processes, and focus on personalized patient experiences. Collaborating with technology companies like Steer Health, and continuously adapting and innovating will ensure they stay ahead of the game. 

By implementing these strategies, healthcare providers can navigate the changing landscape and continue to deliver high-quality care to meet the evolving needs of patients.

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