Amazon acquires start-up Health Navigator, its first health-related purchase since PillPack

Health, Fitness & Food

The front desk of the Amazon office is pictured in New York, May 1, 2019.

Carlo Allegri | Reuters

Amazon has just made its second acquisition in the health-care space, snapping up a start-up called Health Navigator, which provides technology and services to digital health companies.

Amazon confirmed the acquisition to CNBC, and said that Health Navigator will join the company’s Amazon Care group, which launched in September. Amazon Care is designed to serve as a medical benefit for employees and helps provide care virtually, through a video visit, and with home visits if additional care is needed.

“The service eliminates travel and wait time, connecting employees and their family members to a physician or nurse practitioner 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 in an email.

With only about a dozen employees, according to LinkedIn, Health Navigator is much smaller than the first health-related company Amazon acquired, PillPack. Amazon paid $753 million for PillPack last year to jump into the online pharmacy market. While Amazon is investing significantly in the PillPack business and has about 50 job openings for the unit listed on its website, the market has proven to be a challenge with established players in the industry fighting to keep Amazon from accessing patient data or hire their employees.

PillPack has been folded into Amazon’s consumables team under Nader Kabbani, a vice president.

Health Navigator was founded in 2014 by David Thompson, the CEO. Thompson is well known in the medical sector for developing a set of protocols, called Schmitt-Thompson, which became the standard way for nurses and other clinicians to guide patients to the right place, typically via call centers. Thompson, who didn’t respond to a request for comment, is also an emergency medicine doctor and part-time faculty member at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, according to his LinkedIn profile. 

On its website, Health Navigator describes how it works with partners like Microsoft to provide things like symptom-checking tools that can help with remote diagnoses, and with triage, helping patients figure out whether to stay at home, see a doctor or go straight to the emergency room. Many of its customers are telemedicine companies, which offer virtual home exams and apps for doctors to connect with patients.

Health Navigator’s website doesn’t yet reference an acquisition, but the company has communicated that it will not renew its contract with existing customers, according to two people familiar with the matter who asked not to be named because of confidentiality.

WATCH: How Amazon could change the pharmacy business

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