Amazon Care adds its missing puzzle piece: mental health visits

The news: Amazon’s telehealth business Amazon Care is reportedly adding mental health visits to its list of services, per Insider.

  • Amazon Care users will have access to on-demand telemental health visits with in-network therapists and psychiatrists.
  • Amazon Care will also partner with Ginger (which recently merged with Headspace) to give Amazon Care users access to additional mental health services.

Mental health visits are a safe telehealth bet: It's an area of virtual care with strong and consistent user adoption, unlike specialty care.

The number of primary care and specialty telehealth visits fluctuated over the last year due to changing COVID-19 cases—but mental health visits haven’t yo-yoed at all.

  • Mental health visits remained the top use of telehealth (comprising 62.8% of claim lines) in May, according to the latest Fair Health data.
  • That means Amazon Care won’t have to concern itself with consumer adoption of its new visits. Users are flocking to telemental health, regardless of varying interest in virtual primary care.

What the move means for Amazon: Thanks to the Ginger partnership, Amazon Care won’t have to hire a ton of in-house mental health providers right away.

Amazon Care can lean on Ginger’s massive network of mental health coaches, therapists, and psychiatrists that serve over 100 million individual and employer customers across 190 countries.

The missing puzzle piece: Adding mental health visits could make Amazon an even greater threat to retail care giants like CVS.

Amazon’s recent $4 billion One Medical purchase guaranteed a much wider primary care footprint. We posited the deal will put the tech giant in direct competition with on-demand retailers like CVS Health and Walgreens.

  • Now, mental health visits are the next natural step to becoming a serious hybrid care threat.
  • Both CVS and Walgreens are moving in on mental health care, too.
  • In fact, last year, CVS announced plans to close nearly 10% of its US locations throughout the next few years as it converts remaining stores to primary care-like offices that include services like diagnostic testing, mental health care, and hearing exams.