Amazon has signed a contract with Hilton in the United States to sell virtual medical services, gaining a high-profile customer for its budding healthcare division.

The corporation refused to reveal the financial details of its deal with the hotel chain.

Amazon, the world's largest online retailer, is attempting to sign up businesses for Amazon Care, its on-demand health service that allows consumers to message or video-chat with clinicians and receive home visits in some locations. In 2019, Amazon piloted the service for its employees in Seattle, and this summer, it began marketing Care to other businesses nationally.

The agreement with Hilton Worldwide Holdings, first reported by Reuters, is Amazon Care's first hospitality client and only the company's second publicly announced client after exercise equipment maker Precor. It demonstrates how the corporation is using a tried-and-true strategy to disrupt the healthcare market.

Amazon is aiming to commercialize a healthcare service it built first for its employees' benefit, much how it constructed data centers to meet its e-commerce needs and eventually sold access to this infrastructure in what became its cloud-computing business.Amazon shuts US construction site as nooses found - BBC News

Kristen Helton, director of Amazon Care, said the Hilton partnership was "a wonderful step forward for the business to show we can provide care countrywide to their team members" at Reuters' Total Health conference on Monday.

As of December 31, 2020, Hilton employed around 141,000 workers worldwide. Amazon Care will be a perk for all Amazon employees in the United States who are enrolled in a corporate health plan next year.

That means virtual sessions with clinicians from Care Medical, an Amazon Care-focused company. Amazon also makes house calls in Seattle and the Washington-Baltimore metro area, with plans to expand to Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, and Boston in the near future.

Employers' concerns about pandemic safety and the need to recruit during a labor shortage, according to Helton, have contributed to demand.

"Talent attraction and retention are important for firms right now," she said.

Hilton foots the bill for workers' access to care as well as a portion of their visit costs. Employees of the hotel chain would be able to have free text chats through Amazon Care, while a video or a home visit from providers will cost a nominal fee, she said.

In the future, artificial intelligence (AI) will play a bigger role.

"We'll keep clinicians in the loop for a while," Helton said, "until we can trust that AI and those technology solutions are taking care of the patient in the best way possible."

Amazon is relying on technology to minimize caregivers' post-care labor and cut expenses, though she stressed that the personal connection is still crucial.