It is worth noting that Amazon was all set to launch its telehealth services in all the 50 states of US as early as last week and wanted to get the public to enjoy the benefits of healthcare right from their homes but it is now known that the launch of its services in all the states could be delayed by a few weeks. The new date of launch of Amazon Clinic’s telehealth services is reported to be July 19 but that could be further delayed as well. Now, the reason behind this as far as the report we have seen is because “Sens. Warren and Welch asked Amazon executives earlier this month about patient health data privacy and expressed concerns that the platform’s new healthcare service is putting users’ private health data at risk”.
Now, as we already know, patient’s data privacy is very important when it comes to telehealth so we are glad to see that Amazon has not taken this issue lightly. In the letter, the Senators wrote that “We are concerned that Amazon’s online health platform, Amazon Clinic, may be harvesting consumer health data from patients,” to the Amazon CEO Andy Jassy. They also gave the information that “customers who decline HIPAA consent on the website are prevented from completing their patient registration with Amazon Clinic and are redirected to a third-party provider information page”. Adding that this goes against the rules, they said “Notably, the HIPAA Privacy Rule prohibits conditioning care on an authorization to disclose patient information,”
While Amazon Clinic’s spokesperson says that the launch has not been delayed due to the letter from the Senators and that they are preparing a letter to respond to the allegations, it is still to be noted that there must be a solid reason for the delay. The Senators also added that “Amazon Clinic customers deserve to fully understand why Amazon is collecting their healthcare data and what the company is doing with it. Congress is also evaluating legislative efforts to protect health data in the context of emerging technologies.” At the moment, the Amazon Clinic website offers a menu of ailments to find a treatment – from acne and urinary tract infections to birth control and emergency contraception – for adults ages 18-64.