NEWS

Who Is Amazon Clinic For?

woman navigating amazon clinic on her laptop

Verywell / Michela Buttignol

Key Takeaways

  • Amazon has launched a direct-to-consumer (DTC) telehealth service called Amazon Clinic for the treatment of over 20 common health conditions. 
  • The services will offer users 24/7 access to providers who can create treatment plans and refill prescription medications.
  • While DTC services are convenient, experts warn that they are not a substitute for having a primary care provider (PCP).

In November 2022, Amazon announced the launch of Amazon Clinic, a direct-to-consumer (DTC) telehealth service designed to facilitate message-based health care for millions of Americans in 32 states.

Amazon Clinic, an extension of Amazon Pharmacy and the pending purchase of One Medical, offers users 24/7 access to qualified telehealth providers who can create a treatment plan and refill prescriptions for more than 20 common health conditions.

DTC services are becoming popular, but there are some important questions to answer. For example, who can access them? Who benefits from this kind of service? Are there disadvantages to using DTC healthcare? Here’s what you should know before you try it.

What Can Amazon Clinic Help Me With?

Amazon Clinic is designed to be a fast, easy, and accessible way for people to talk to a healthcare provider on-demand for help with a common health condition that does not need an in-person appointment.

Here are a few key points to know about Amazon Clinic:

  • The service is currently only available in 32 states
  • Providers charge a flat fee for the visit and do not bill health insurance. On average, appointments cost $30
  • Insurance can be used to purchase prescribed medications, but the drug cost is not included in the visit
  • The service is not covered by federally or state-provided healthcare programs (e.g., Medicare)
  • Savings from flexible spending accounts (FSA) and health spending accounts (HSA) can be used to pay for services

Jennifer Harrison, California patient

I used Amazon Clinic to refill my asthma inhaler and it was easy and painless. I just uploaded a copy of my previous prescription, paid the $30 fee, and was able to pick it up from my local pharmacy the same day. It saved me a trip to my doctor’s office.

— Jennifer Harrison, California patient

You can use Amazon Clinic to get treatment for some common health conditions, including:

  • Acne 
  • Cold sores
  • Dandruff
  • Eczema/Rosacea
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Genital herpes
  • Male hair loss
  • Motion sickness 
  • Sinusitis
  • Urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Seasonal allergies

You can also use Amazon Clinic to renew prescription medications ranging from birth control to asthma inhalers.

Who Shouldn’t Use Amazon Clinic

Amazon Clinic is not meant for people with complex medical conditions or medical emergencies.

The Disadvantages of DTC Telehealth

While DTC telehealth services offer convenient benefits and a new way to access health care, they are not for everyone. For example, these virtual visits are not right for people with complex medical conditions or people experiencing a medical emergency.

According to Nabil Natafgi, PhD, an assistant professor at the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health, there are some other potential downsides to using DTC telehealth services like Amazon Clinic that you should be aware of before you try.

They Can’t Replace In-Person Care

Natafgi said that even though DTC services can’t help with all conditions, “they definitely can play a role in improving access to care that does not require a physical in-person presence.”

That said, there are times when seeing your provider face-to-face really matters and makes a difference in your care.

DTC services do not lead to established patient-provider relationships. Using a service like Amazon Clinic is not a replacement for having a primary care provider (PCP) who has access to your medical history and detailed medical records.

You Might Get Lower Quality Care

A lack of regulation and transparency are two key issues with DTC telehealth services that need to be worked out. Until then, quality of care is another potential disadvantage of using them.

For example, a 2016 study showed that DTC telehealth providers were more likely to inappropriately prescribe antibiotics and were less likely to order diagnostic testing—both of which are factors that can contribute to negative health outcomes.

Natafgi pointed out that like traditional in-person healthcare visits, the quality of care for DTC health services may “vary depending on the provider and requires continuous quality monitoring from an independent party.”

Telehealth: The Future of Medicine?

A 2020 report on telehealth in the United States estimated that with the rapid advancement in technology, telemedicine is considered the future of medicine.

Remote technology became a focal point in our lives during the pandemic—from changing how we work and go to school to how we shop and stay connected with our loved ones.

Now, the question is not whether telehealth will stick around, but how healthcare companies and providers will integrate the service into their business models and practices. According to Natafgi, some insurance companies are already starting to cover telehealth services.

If Amazon Clinic isn’t available where you live or doesn’t meet your healthcare needs, don’t worry that you’ll be left out of the “future of healthcare.” As these services expand and improve, your options for accessing healthcare could as well.

What This Means For You

Amazon Clinic could be a convenient resource if you are looking to refill a routine prescription or get treatment for a common health condition. However, DTC telehealth services are not for people with complex medical conditions or medical emergencies.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Amazon. Introducing Amazon Clinic, a virtual health service that delivers convenient, affordable care for common conditions.

  2. Amazon Clinic. What can we help you with?

  3. Uscher-Pines L, Mulcahy A, Cowling D, Hunter G, Burns R, Mehrotra A. Access and quality of care in direct-to-consumer telemedicine. Telemed J E Health. 2016;22(4):282-287. doi:10.1089/tmj.2015.0079

  4. ReportLinker. Telehealth market in the US—industry outlook forecast 2020-2025.

By Amy Isler, RN, MSN, CSN
Amy Isler, RN, MSN, CSN, is a registered nurse with over six years of patient experience. She is a credentialed school nurse in California.