Alexa made it to the big leagues. When we first wrote about Amazon’s smart voice assistant Alexa’s role in digital health the topics included applications such as on-demand news and weather reports for visually impaired people, explaining medications, and assisting ambulance attendants with emergency medical protocols, Alexa Skills (a “skill” is an Alexa-enabled app) grew to include more advanced roles such as detecting signs of wellness, HIPAA-compliant skills to assist diabetics, helping people post surgery or with chronic conditions to manage their health, and, starting with the UK’s National Health Service, answer questions about disease and medical conditions. In the same years that Alexa gained digital health smarts, telemedicine grew from a cautious experiment to a widely accepted way to deliver and receive healthcare. The COVID-19 pandemic played a significant role in telemedicine’s growth and acceptance. Now, Amazon is taking a giant step with Alexa and telemedicine.

Amazon and virtual health care company Teladoc Health announced a working relationship to provide virtual medical care in patients homes. U.S. customers with supported Echo devices will be able to say, “Alexa, I want to talk to a doctor” for 24/7 access to a physician for general health issues. With that prompt, customers will connect to Teladoc’s call center via the Echo device. After the patient explains their issue, a doctor associated with Teladoc will call the patients on the same Echo device. The Alexa-Teladoc connections are for non-emergency health needs. The calls will initially be audio only, according to Teladoc, but video calls are “coming soon.” Teledoc virtual visits cost $75 each for people without insurance and can be as little as $0 for people with insurance.

This partnership between Amazon and Teledoc Health is yet another sign of how healthcare is shifting from the hospital to the home. Amazon already has an online pharmacy. It’s not at all a big leap to imagine how Amazon could employ its market power to become a major role in healthcare.