Amazon broadens its funnel with grocery, health offerings

By design, the funnel business model depends on luring as many customers as possible at the top of the funnel, and keeping them engaged once inside with a wide variety of interactions and transactions. Amazon has embraced this model perhaps more than any other business, most notably through its Prime subscription service but also via a multitude of personal and business services.

Recently, the company announced plans to attract even more people to the top of the funnel, eliminating the delivery fee for groceries purchased through its Amazon Fresh service. While the grocery delivery business has been notoriously unprofitable over the years, Amazon officials said the move is an investment in the needs of its consumers.

Amazon also hinted at the possible creation of a new funnel for healthcare customers with the purchase of Health Navigator, which offers symptom-checking tools that can help patients decide whether to stay at home, visit a doctor or head to the emergency room. Health Navigator is joining the company’s Amazon Care division, which currently offers digital health services to its employees but is expected to ultimately serve a broader population.

Retail clinics pivot from the common cold to chronic conditions

When retail clinics emerged on the scene in the late 2000s, the initial marketing push was centered around treating patients with minor conditions, and saving them from a costly, time-consuming or unnecessary visit to the ED or a physician’s office. I distinctly remember being pleasantly surprised by the lack of a wait—and the inexpensive cost— during my first visit to a retail clinic during my lunch break about ten years ago, for a case of pinkeye I picked up from my then-toddler niece.

Walgreens now appears to be pivoting away from the treatment of minor conditions, with the recent news that it will close 160 self-operated in-store clinics while keeping 220 clinics run by health systems. The move will allow Walgreens to focus its in-store clinics on consumers with chronic conditions, who it hopes will purchase medications or receive other services related to their ongoing care needs, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Virtual specialty care?

Until now, primary care services have dominated the emerging “virtual visit” market, where patients and clinicians connect via text, video, or email instead of meeting face-to-face. The Cleveland Clinic and American Well recently announced plans to expand the virtual model into specialty care, with a new digital health platform that will ultimately offer visits with Clinic specialty physicians.

The Clinic is a way for us to rapidly deploy and scale our digital services in a non–brick-and-mortar fashion,” William Morris, MD, executive medical director, Cleveland Clinic Innovations, told HealthLeaders.

Innovation at a glance


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Haydn Bush

Haydn Bush

Vice President
Haydn Bush has two decades of experience as a journalist and communications professional in healthcare and related fields. He currently serves as VP of Thought Leadership.
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