Amazon plans to collaborate with digital health companies to connect customers with virtual care benefits for managing conditions like diabetes and hypertension. The online retail giant tapped virtual-first chronic care provider Omada Health as its first partner.
Amazon’s new health conditions program, which officially launched on Monday, aims to help customers find and enroll in virtual care benefits available to them through their employer or health plan at no extra cost.
Omada will be the first virtual diabetes prevention, diabetes and hypertension provider available in Amazon’s health conditions program, the two companies announced at the J. P. Morgan Healthcare Conference.
Omada Health, which launched in 2011, has enrolled one million members across all its programs for weight health and prediabetes, diabetes, hypertension and musculoskeletal conditions. Over the past 12 years, Omada has built up its employer and health plan customers, now working with 1,900 organizations.
With the company’s strong growth, the time was right to work with a scaled partner with consumer reach like Amazon, CEO Sean Duffy told Fierce Healthcare in an interview.
“I’ve always imagined there would be a moment in time when we could do broader awareness campaigns. We’ve now hit this moment of market saturation where something like this could be feasible,” Duffy noted. “About a year and a half ago we just started thinking together about, ‘What does a world look like where an Amazon customer can realize a health care benefit they may have? And does that make a mark on the way healthcare is delivered?’ I think we both collectively, agreed yes, and that it was consistent to both of our strategies.”
One in 10 commercially insured adults have one of Omada Health’s chronic care products as part of their health benefits policy, noted Duffy and the partnership with Amazon opens up a new enrollment pathway for consumers.
The new offering will make it easier for Omada’s more than 20 million eligible members to discover and enroll in the digital health company’s cardiometabolic programs, Duffy said.
“We work very productively and collaboratively with our partners and our employers to educate their employees that Omada exists. But right now, we’ve hit a tipping point where we’re interested in looking at other ways where people can find out whether they have us as a benefit. That speaks to our scale where we’ve hit a point where it can intersect with Amazon’s ambitions,” he added.
According to an Amazon blog post, the online retail plans to partner with other digital health companies as part of its health conditions program.
“Amazon wants to make it easier for people to get and stay healthy, and part of that is making it easier to discover the products, services, and professionals that can help them do that. Many people aren’t aware of the health care benefits they’re eligible for, that are typically no cost or subsidized by their employer or insurance plan,” Aaron Martin, vice president of healthcare at Amazon., said in an interview. “When customers are shopping for health-related products on Amazon, we can surface these additional benefits to provide even more support in improving their health, at no additional cost.”
When searching for devices like a blood glucose meter or blood pressure monitor on Amazon.com, consumers will see messaging that they may be eligible to join a chronic condition management program. Individuals can visit the Amazon Health web page to check their eligibility for health condition programs. If the coverage check indicates they may be eligible for a program, they will then be guided to Omada’s website to complete the enrollment process, according to the companies.
In order to verify program eligibility, Amazon shares the customer’s benefits profile, including information such as name, date of birth, email, employer and insurance carrier, per the customer’s request with Omada through a secure portal, according to the companies. Omada shares a customer’s eligibility results, enrollment status and next actions with Amazon to enable Amazon to perform common healthcare operations for Omada, consistent with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) rules, a healthcare privacy law.
As an example, Amazon will use the information to confirm a customer’s likely coverage and handle customer support questions about applications, executives said in an Amazon blog post.
The tech company says it protects customer information with “stringent privacy and security practices to keep information safe and secure.”
Individually identifiable information sent to and received by digital health companies that are regulated by HIPAA is protected health information (PHI), and we secure and protect it accordingly,” Amazon executives said in the blog post.
It can be difficult for patients to navigate their insurer- and employer-sponsored digital health benefits and, often, awareness and enrollment in these programs are low. Nearly a quarter of U.S. adults report that they are unaware of all benefits available to them through their health insurer coverage and employer.
According to the Bureau of Labor, employees leave nearly 30% of their total compensation on the table through unused benefits.
“This partnership is pivotal for Omada, as we are leveraging Amazon’s wide reach to literally meet consumers where they are, just as we do for our members as a virtual-first care provider,” Duffy said. “Ultimately, the more people we’re able to reach, the larger impact we can have on the rising prevalence of chronic disease.”
Consumers eligible for digital health benefits through their insurance or employer may have access to connected devices, a personal care team, health coaching and nutrition planning, Amazon executives said in the blog post.
Amazon has big ambitions for its healthcare business, which now includes primary care company One Medical, which it bought for $3.9 billion, along with its Amazon Pharmacy unit and Amazon Clinic.
Amazon’s focus on being “customer-obsessed” makes the online retail giant an ideal company to take on the $4 trillion healthcare industry, according to Amazon Health Services head Neil Lindsay. Amazon’s strengths lie in logistics and supply chain to more easily connect consumers with products and services they need, he said during the HLTH 2023 conference last fall.
Partnerships with established digital health companies will be key to growing Amazon’s presence in the healthcare industry and continuing to connect the dots for consumers.
Providing customer value is core to Amazon’s DNA, Duffy noted, and connecting consumers with virtual care benefits that are covered by their insurance helps to build trust.
“It’s inspiring to see Amazon work with established digital healthcare companies like Omada to fight chronic disease – especially diabetes, which often goes undiagnosed,” Deborah Dugan, CEO of nonprofit Beyond Type 1, said in a statement about the partnership. “Mobilizing the business, tech and health industries to collaborate across sectors is how we ultimately scale impact, improve health outcomes, and drive health equity throughout the world. As a leader in diabetes advocacy, Beyond Type 1 applauds these companies for bringing awareness to the disease.”
While the virtual chronic care management market has become more competitive, Duffy contends that Omada Health offers a differentiated approach by “blending humans with technology.” He launched Omada 12 years ago to build an “evidence-based digital health company.”
The company works in that white space in-between doctor visits and uses data-driven personalized care to drive behavioral change. Its programs provide virtual support from a personalized care team plus remote monitoring devices like continuous glucose monitors and blood pressure cuffs.
Based on its data, 27 peer-reviewed publications showcase Omada Health’s clinical and economic results, he noted. Notable outcomes from the diabetes program from 2019 to 2022 include a 12-month A1C decrease of 2% for members with a baseline above 8%, with 76% of members achieving Omada’s A1C reduction goals.
Omada reached “unicorn status” in February 2022 with a $192 million series E round. The company has raised $464 million to date.