For many family physicians, obtaining adequate personal protective equipment for themselves and their staff during the COVID-19 pandemic has proved challenging. AAFP President Gary LeRoy, M.D., offered FPs hope on this front in his April 30 email to members,(3 page PDF) when he announced that the Academy was working with Amazon to grant them access to a special section on Amazon Business where they could purchase PPE and other medical supplies.
Now, barely two weeks after that announcement, those efforts have borne fruit.
Amazon Business has now opened its priority access COVID-19 Supplies store to individual physicians. As a result, AAFP members and others working on the front lines of the pandemic have direct access to hundreds of items related to PPE, disinfectants, sanitizing products, diagnostic equipment and other materials.
"During supply shortages, it is difficult for smaller practices to compete with larger organizations in obtaining supplies," said Steven Waldren, M.D., M.S., an AAFP vice president and the Academy's chief medical informatics officer. "While there are still challenges for these practices, this site is making it easier for them to procure supplies."
Collaborative Effort Pays Off
Waldren outlined the process of working with Amazon for AAFP News.
"Early in the pandemic, I reached out to a colleague at Amazon who works in Alexa Health," he explained. "Additionally, I reached out to a new contact, a family physician, at Amazon Health. Both were extremely responsive," Waldren recalled.
"We had a good conversation about the needs of members and explored opportunities to work together. They got us to the right folks within Amazon Business."
Waldren told AAFP News that Amazon Business stayed in touch with the Academy as the pandemic progressed. Although Amazon had initially restricted the ability to purchase these supplies to certain organizations, the AAFP offered to help verify individual members as valid purchasers on the site.
"In the beginning of the site, the supplies were extremely limited," said Waldren. "Amazon limited purchases to hospitals and government agencies. We continued to advocate the needs of independent practices. We worked to capture information on members who needed to purchase supplies and shared that information with Amazon. Amazon used that information to verify Amazon Business accounts (that) were practices. During that effort, Amazon was able to scale their infrastructure to verify accounts and was able to rapidly open the site to all practices.
"Amazon has been a good partner in working to make the limited supply of medical equipment and supplies available to members," Waldren added.
Here's How It Works
To purchase items from the COVID-19 Supplies store, AAFP members need to first create an Amazon Business account(business.amazon.com) (which is not the same as a personal Amazon account) and correctly complete their identification information to be recognized as a licensed physician. Registration is free.
Those who have an existing Amazon Business account should already be able to access the store.(www.amazon.com)
Members who have an Amazon Business account but encounter trouble ordering should contact Amazon Business Customer Service.(www.amazon.com)
It should be noted that Amazon Business designed the COVID-19 Supplies store as a service for communities, health care organizations and government agencies and does not make a profit from the venture. The company is also waiving standard referral fees for third-party sellers who supply products through the store.
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