Teladoc inks Amazon partnership for voice-activated virtual visits on Echo devices

Amazon customers with Alexa-enabled devices can now get on-demand medical care through the tech giant’s new partnership with Teladoc Health.

Through an Echo device, customers can ask to speak to a doctor for nonemergent medical care, and Alexa will connect them with the Teladoc call center.

A Teladoc doctor will then return their call on the Echo device for a virtual visit.

Amazon has added several healthcare-related features to its Alexa-enabled devices over the years, with offerings that range from elder care coordination to medication management. But the Teladoc partnership marks the technology’s first attempt at providing on-demand general medical care.

“We’re excited to work with Teladoc Health to offer our customers an easy, hands-free way to connect with a doctor,” said Debra Chrapaty, vice president and chief operating officer at Amazon Alexa. “Whether they’re taking care of their sick child in the middle of the night or wanting to ask a doctor about allergy symptoms in between meetings during the day, we hope this experience will help customers find the convenient help they want from the comfort of their own home.”

The service will be available to U.S. customers at all hours. While first supporting audio visits, Teladoc plans to add video visits soon, the company said.

The visits are free with insurance or $75 without.

“Teladoc Health’s collaboration with Amazon is yet another step in breaking down barriers to healthcare access,” said Donna Boyer, chief product officer at Teladoc, in a statement. “By introducing and integrating our virtual-first care experience with Echo devices, we are providing an innovative and convenient way for users to connect with a doctor. We are meeting consumers where they are to continue to deliver value and high-quality care to members.”

Amazon expanded its Alexa-related healthcare efforts last year with additions both for hospitals and individual consumers.

Hospitals like Boston Children’s, Cedars-Sinai, BayCare and Houston Methodist signed on last fall to add Alexa to some facilities to allow patients easy access to care team members and to their families.

Nurx, which recently announced it will merge with Thirty Madison, teamed up with Amazon in September to provide sexual and reproductive health information as well as birth control pill reminders through Alexa-enabled devices.

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Amazon is also rolling out its own virtual and in-person healthcare services.

In February, the company announced plans to expand its hybrid care model to more than 20 additional cities this year, just two and a half years after piloting Amazon Care in Seattle.

The tech giant is also targeting the employer market, recently inking deals to provide services to Silicon Labs, TrueBlue and Whole Foods Market in addition to existing clients Hilton and Precor.

Hilton is by far the company’s biggest public customer yet, reporting approximately 141,000 employees globally in 2020.

RELATED: Teladoc stock faces turbulence with shrinking Q4 losses but modest 2022 guidance 

The Amazon partnership builds on Teladoc’s growing set of offerings across healthcare.

The telehealth company announced the launch of its chronic condition management program, Chronic Care Complete, last week to connect members in the company’s chronic care programs with its network of physicians.

The company will also expand its virtual primary care service Primary360 this year with new health plan partners.

Teladoc stock declined last Wednesday as the company posted modest 2022 revenue guidance despite beating Wall Street estimates on revenue and earnings per share.

However, promising metrics like a 52% increase in U.S. revenue per member year over year drove optimism through the rest of the week, pushing Teladoc’s stock back up on par with the previous week’s pricing.