There are rumors that Amazon is adding health care to its subscription service Amazon Prime. John Doerr, an Amazon investor, seems to believe that the multinational technology company is already working on it. Doerr is already giving it the name “Prime Health.”
The plan has yet to come to fruition, but former Amazon Prime head Rob Schwietzer may have beaten the industry giant to the punch. After leaving Amazon in 2013, Schwietzer is now a Chief Product Officer for the primary care company 98point6, which is a startup in Seattle that wants to create a new consumer health brand.
Schwietzer admits that healthcare is a tough profession, but the Former Amazon Prime head also believes that people should not have to choose between going to the doctor and providing their family with three square meals a day.
Schwietzer joined Microsoft veteran and mobile scheduling app Cozi creator Robbie Cape in building 98point6. In 2011, Cape invited Schweitzer lunch to ask him for advice about how subscription businesses work. Amazon Prime is giving service to millions of people that will not hesitate to pay on a monthly basis.
Cape then came up with 98point6 and contacted Schwietzer again. Despite his reservations about the idea of taking up health care, Schweitzer realized that it was a perfect chance to bring quality, convenience, and price to the service in a similar way that Amazon was able to change retail business.
Schwietzer thinks that Amazon is doing well. He believes that Amazon remains at the forefront of companies that are providing fast and inexpensive service, making it an ideal and convenient e-commerce store for the average shopper.
Spending on health care is reaching $3.5 trillion, which makes it one of the biggest businesses where valuable innovation and a powerful impact can happen. Access creates a chasm for those who are not able to afford or access reliable family doctors. Improving access can help decrease the costs of health care and show improvements in the health of the patients.
The shortage of primary care nurses and physicians in the US is already growing at an alarming rate due to the aging population. Rural areas are problematic as the nearest clinic is often miles away, forcing people to take care of themselves until the need to go to the emergency room for treatment of a severe illness that regular healthcare could have prevented.
What Makes 98point6 Unique
Schweitzer and Cape are following the footsteps of entrepreneurs that are seeking to eradicate the problem with inaccessible healthcare.
Direct primary care is a movement that charges patients with a subscription fee after helping them consult with an outstanding doctor in person. The Trump administration is backing direct primary care, which is at least ten percent of medical practices, in hopes of helping fund Medicare for senior citizens.
Other startup businesses are trying to experiment on a phone-to-phone doctor-patient conversation like AmericanWell and Doctor on Demand. Insurance will pay for the practice or charge people with a $40 or $50 fee for every consultation.
98point6 believes that it can use technological advancements while decreasing the prices. For an annual fee of twenty dollars, 98point6 provides a messaging service for doctors and patients. The price rises to $120 after the first year but every consultation the patient makes do not require an additional fee.
Cape explains that the subscription model allows the user and the doctor to build a supportive relationship because breaks down the financial barrier to engage in health-related conversations.
The lowered price is a huge draw for users, but the availability of a doctor’s consultation is what separates 98point6 from other direct primary care services. Doctors who are stressed because of administrative work can turn into advocates for 98point6 as more consumers begin to realize its potential.
A 98point6 assistant, a bot, will take care of parts of the initial interview of the patient and allows doctors to read information about the consumers’ complaints, making them able to assess with knowledge over the patient’s condition.
98point6 is starting to gain steam. The company already has 160,000 members. Fifty employers, including Washington-based Red Lion Hotels and Seattle Children’s Hospital, are signing up for 98point6’s mission to provide accessible healthcare. Cape reveals that the utilization rate of their company is about 6 percent, which means that the employees are taking advantage of the business’ benefits. This January, there are 50 states, including Washington, D.C., that are giving 98point6 license to practice.
Damon Lanphear, a former Amazon cloud employee, is running 98point6’s technology team. The company also has 16 doctors at its disposal, including Chief Medical Officer Brad Younggren. Regina Benjamin, a former Surgeon General, is a part of the business’ board members.
98point6 Gaining Investors
98point6 is currently flowing with a lot of investors that believe in its potential. The merchant banking division of Goldman Sachs came up with $50 million for the company. Among the growing list of individual investors include former Costco CEO and founder Jim Sinegal, CEO of BlackRock Larry Fink, former CFO of Goldman Sachs David Viniar, and managing partner of Frazier Healthcare Partners Nader Naini.
Viniar shares that young people are comfortable with technology but do not want to waste their time going to the hospital. Viniar also reveals that there are people who find it difficult to visit the doctor and afford a consultation.
98point6 will receive stiff competition in the field of digital healthcare. Major pharmaceutical businesses and technology giants are starting to form their health care services that can potentially create other opportunities to generate revenue. Apple and Amazon are giving its employees medical clinics, which means that they are willing to explore the health care business soon.
OMERS Ventures’ managing partner and health-technology investor Michael Yang believes that digital healthcare will be a clash of the huge companies. Yang also predicts that 98point6 has a great chance to succeed.
98point6 believes in its platform as it hopes to become a household name like Amazon Prime. Cape shares that his healthcare service’s head start will get people to talk about their experience with the program. When a person’s positive experience of 98point6’s service spreads, it can gain popularity.