What Amazon's Purchase Of One Medical Really Means

In a public statement released July 21, Amazon shared that it has opted into an agreement to acquire One Medical, a U.S. health care company dedicated to providing both in-person and virtual services in an effort to make quality primary care more accessible, affordable, and pleasant for users. To be purchased by Amazon for roughly $3.9 billion, One Medical works to address some of the many barriers faced by patients attempting to access medical care. These include lack of transportation, the inability to take off work, long wait times, rushed appointments, and more.

"The opportunity to transform health care and improve outcomes by combining One Medical's human-centered and technology-powered model and exceptional team with Amazon's customer obsession, history of invention, and willingness to invest in the long-term is so exciting," said Amir Dan Rubin, CEO of One Medical.

According to Amazon, the technology would make it more convenient for users to renew prescriptions, book appointments, access their health care records, and connect with physicians across the country. However, some pre-existing users have expressed privacy concerns regarding their personal health care information and how it will be used, reports Fast Company.

Could the purchase potentially impact patient privacy?

In response to the announcement, a current One Medical user posed questions via The Washington Post. These included whether or not their information could be used by the organization to curate personalized advertisements for certain medications, or whether the technology could potentially notify doctors of increased alcohol or tobacco usage.

Six Democrat representatives have also reached out to Amazon to get clarification as to how the company plans to protect the privacy of patient reproductive health information in light of the recent overturn of Roe v. Wade (via Fast Company). Questions in a written letter included, "Has your company adopted any policies to restrict the sale and disclosure of data that could be used to prosecute or otherwise harass those seeking to exercise their reproductive rights to law enforcement or private actors? What steps do you take to enforce those policies?"

In response to Fast Company, Amazon stated that it was too early in the process to provide an official statement regarding potential policy changes, but emphasized that One Medical will continue to abide by HIPAA and any related privacy laws. The company did not specify whether patient health care information could be relinquished to law enforcement or other government entities. While the deal could mean improvements in health care services for users, questions remain as to what the purchase could mean regarding patient privacy.