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Amazon’s grab-and-go stores arrive in hospitals

A health care worker shopping at a store using Amazon's Just Walk Out technology.

Amazon is bringing its Just Walk Out technology to hospitals so that busy staff can shop food and drinks without having to wait in line.

For the uninitiated, Just Walk Out technology uses cameras and sensors — and, in more recent setups, radio-frequency identification (RIFD) tags — to track customers’ selections as they make their way around a store and then automatically charge their accounts when they leave.

The technology appeared first at Amazon Go convenience stores in 2018, and the company has since sold it to more than 120 third-party locations globally.

In an announcement on Thursday, Amazon said it’s now partnering with health care facilities to let doctors, nurses, and other staff purchase food and drink simply by scanning their employee badge.

St. Joseph’s/Candler Hospital in Savannah, Georgia, will be the first U.S. hospital to offer a Just Walk Out technology store and the first location to offer the badge pay capability, with Amazon hoping to bring the system to more health care facilities over time.

Amazon said that the “grab and go” store at St. Joseph’s/Candler Hospital is operated by Morrison Healthcare and will let health care workers link their employee badges with their payroll deduct account. This means that to use the store, staff simply need to scan their badge at the entry pedestal, shop for what they need, and then exit the store without spending their precious time waiting in line to pay. The cost of the purchased items will then be automatically deducted from their payroll deduct account.

Staff can look up the receipts and account balance in their hospital’s badge pay web portal or mobile app, enabling them to keep track of all their purchases.

Caregivers and other hospital visitors can also shop at the store using their credit/debit cards or mobile wallets, Amazon said.

“Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology supports our smart medicine strategy by providing high-tech solutions to our patients, visitors, and co-workers, even with food service,” Paul P. Hinchey, president and CEO of St. Joseph’s/Candler, said in a release.

“With this technology, Candler Hospital co-workers needing a quick snack or a meal during the third shift, as well as visitors taking care of friends or family members, have a convenient way to purchase the meals, snacks, and drinks they need so they can quickly get back to their loved ones.”

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