By Jeffrey Dastin
(Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc has reached a deal to sell virtual medical services to Hilton in the United States, landing a marquee customer for its nascent healthcare business.
The company declined to disclose financial terms of its agreement with the hotel chain.
The world’s biggest online retailer has looked to sign up employers to Amazon Care, its on-demand health offering that lets users message or video-chat clinicians and receive home visits in some cities. Amazon piloted the service for its employees around Seattle in 2019, and this summer it started marketing Care nationwide to other companies.
The deal with Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc, which Reuters is first to report, marks Amazon Care’s first hospitality customer and only its second disclosed client after fitness maker Precor. It shows how the company is seeking to disrupt the healthcare industry with a tried-and-true playbook.
Just as Amazon built data centers to satisfy its e-commerce needs and later sold access to this infrastructure in what became its cloud-computing business, so is Amazon looking to profit from a healthcare service it built first for its workers’ benefit.
Kristen Helton, director of Amazon Care, said working with Hilton’s vast and diverse workforce of corporate and hotel-chain employees represented a milestone.
“That’s not an easy population to serve,” she said in an interview ahead of Reuters’ Total Health conference Monday.
Hilton employed about 141,000 people globally as of Dec. 31, 2020. All its U.S. staff enrolled in a corporate health plan will have Amazon Care as a benefit next year.
That means virtual meetings with clinicians from Care Medical, a company focused on serving Amazon Care users. Amazon also offers house calls in greater Seattle and the Washington-Baltimore metro area, with plans to expand to Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia and Boston.
Helton said employers’ pandemic safety concerns and recruiting needs during a labor shortage have contributed to demand.
“Attracting and retaining talent is so critical for businesses right now,” she said.
Text chats via Amazon Care will be free to Hilton employees, while provider video or home visits carry a small fee, she said; Hilton pays for workers’ access to care and for a portion of the visit expenses. She declined further comment on pricing.
Rivals include Teladoc Health Inc. According to Helton, Amazon is aiming to stand apart via hybrid virtual and in-person care, plus an easy user experience and clearer costs.
“An area where we’re very focused is bringing that transparency back to the patient,” she said.
(Reporting By Jeffrey Dastin in Palo Alto, California; editing by Diane Craft)