Amazon-Owned Health Clinics Reportedly Training AI Chatbot to Triage Patients

Key Points:

  • Amazon acquired One Medical for $3 billion in 2022
  • Patients and employees complained about shorter appointments, fewer staff, and limited services after the acquisition
  • Amazon is training an AI chatbot to triage patient messages, potentially impacting urgent medical inquiries


Amazon’s influence in the healthcare sector expands as it refashions One Medical’s services, following its $3 billion acquisition in 2022. Patients and employees have raised concerns about shorter appointments, reduced staff, and limited services under Amazon’s control. The e-commerce giant is shifting One Medical towards a more telehealth-centered model, accommodating a larger customer base beyond its physical locations.


A notable change is the potential implementation of an AI chatbot to triage patient messages, a move that could impact access to urgent medical care based on the automated decisions of a language model. While Amazon has not confirmed these AI plans to _The Washington Post_, the idea raises skepticism given the erratic reliability of AI in medical contexts.


The effects of Amazon’s acquisition are palpable at Iora, a subsidiary of One Medical rebranded as One Medical Seniors, which faced substantial staff reductions post-takeover. Patients like Deborah Wood note a stark difference in the level of care received, from attentive follow-ups by doctors to delayed callbacks and interactions channeled through call centers, exemplifying a shift towards a less personal patient experience.


The restructuring has seen the elimination of front desk roles, diverting patient communication to a centralized system named Mission Control, leading to a surge in inquiries. The possible introduction of AI to streamline administrative tasks further raises concerns about the effectiveness and implications of utilizing such technology in healthcare settings. AI chatbots, notorious for errors and miscommunication, pose a risk in the doctor-patient relationship, potentially hindering the quality of care and exacerbating bureaucratic hurdles.


Given the documented setbacks of AI-enabled customer service in other sectors, the idea of deploying generative AIs in healthcare operations as intermediary communication tools warrants scrutiny. The convergence of advanced technology with healthcare services necessitates a cautious approach towards safeguarding patient welfare and preserving the integrity of medical practice.



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