Amazon buys One Medical - Will the acquisition be Good for the Doctors?

Posted by Dike Drummond MD

This week Amazon bought the healthcare delivery organization One Medical for $3.9 Billion.

What effect will this merger have on the health, wellbeing and working conditions of the One Medical physicians and staff?

Will working for Amazon as a healthcare provider be a good thing or will the new organization devolve into the same kinds of working conditions we see in their warehouse and delivery operations? Here is just one article on what it's like to work on the logistics side of Amazon: "Amazon chews through the average worker in eight months. They need a union

I hope and pray this is not the future for the doctors, nurses and other front-line staff under Amazon's leadership. Do we have any grounds for optimism? 


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The acquisition gives Amazon
a physical network of health-care offices and providers, and One Medical's proprietary technology enabling virtual doctor visits.

All the news to date is focused on the business implications of Amazon's entry into patient care or on the impacts for patients in the new, Amazon-controlled system.

In this blog post let's talk about the impact on the Physicians in the One Medical System as they are acquired and molded to Amazon's business objectives.

  • Is there any way to know if being acquired by Amazon will be a good thing for the physicians and staff?

  • Do we have clues as to how Amazon would modify One Medical's current business model - and reasonably human physician work experience?

  • Specifically, can Amazon rise above it's history as hard-edged employer of  warehouse and delivery workers - or will they simply inject those working conditions into healthcare via a hypodermic called One Medical?

  • How will Amazon management distinguish themselves from the usual pillage and plunder Private Equity overlord ... if at all?


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One Medical:

  • A direct-to-consumer membership model with 70+ offices across the U.S. and 24/7 virtual care. It has been called the Whole Foods of Primary Care.
  • Works with more than 8,000 companies to provide One Medical health benefits to their employees.
  • It has 767,000 members, and patients are typically charged an annual subscription fee of $199.
  • Users include younger and commercially insured patients.

  • One Medical is also NOT PROFITABLE:
    "according to its first-quarter earnings report, which also showed the company had incurred a net loss of $90.9 million after pulling in $254.1 million in revenue."


We know the current employee physician experience at One Medical is a reasonably good one.

I have had several coaching clients who worked in the One Medical System and given positive reviews of that experience as an employee. 

One medical uses a direct payment revenue model that results in lower patient volumes for the physicians while maintaining a competitive wage and benefits package.

The current One Medical employee physician experience resembles that of a concierge doctor - lower patient volumes, more time per patient, more support staff, streamlined charting -- without taking a pay cut when compared to physicians in a traditional FFS, volume driven practice.


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Now that AMAZON is in charge, how will the Physician Experience change?

Most of the articles on this acquisition have focused just on the business side of the issue with statements such as: "the company is not profitable, according to its most recent quarterly report, let's see if Amazon will be able to turn it around!"

  • Will Amazon be a benevolent master with an awareness and emphasis on Physician Wellbeing?

  • Does Amazon realize the triple competitive advantage of physician wellbeing?

  • Will they continue to provide the superior workplace experience that is a key component of the current One Medical system?

  • Or will the physician experience quickly devolve into that familiar to Amazon's warehouse workers - an endless day of conveyor belt overwhelm?

I sincerely hope Amazon brings One Medical's system into profitability with a continued focus on Physician Wellness.

  • I hope they are able to distinguish their stewardship over a healthcare delivery system from the pillage and plunder management style of the typical Private Equity firm. 

  • I hope they are able to rise above the bean counter, logistics driven strategies of their core business to build a visionary Quadruple Aim driven healthcare delivery organization -- on top of the worthy foundation built by One Medical.


Fortunately we will all be able to witness and track this acquisition in Amazon's public filings rather than guessing what is happening inside the black box of Private Equity. 






What are your hopes and expectations for Amazon's entry into direct patient care?

What have you heard from your colleagues about changes in the One Medical physician experience so far?




Tags: stop physician burnout, employee physician