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Morrison Healthcare and Amazon: Changing the Game at St. Joseph's/Candler

Candler Hospital in Savannah, Georgia, introduces healthcare’s first Amazon Just Walk Out retail experience, offering healthcare workers and visitors a convenient, checkout-free food service option. “It’s a game changer,” says on-site Regional Director, Taylor Miller, Morrison Healthcare.

Taylor, what prompted the need for the Amazon Just Walk Out technology at the Smartbytes market?

Everybody has to eat, and waiting in lines is often not an option–whether you are a staff member,  or you need to quickly return to the bedside of a loved one. Food access at 2 am was limited to vending only, and the need for innovation became more clear when I was in a caregiver role after my wife and I had our first child. We did a little research, some brainstorming and thoughtful collaboration with our client to find a solution that met the need. In addition to an improved customer experience, labor efficiencies in healthcare are always top of mind both operationally and financially. This model solves for both through leveraging reduced labor yet extended hours and a faster, more seamless experience.

How did you create this space within the hospital?

In 2021, we renovated an existing coffee break area into a cashierless market, laying the groundwork for an enhanced 24/7 fully frictionless food service space. We were able to convert the coffee shop that was open around 5-6 hours a day to a cashierlessmarket, but this was not viable long term because patients and families could not utilize the market–only staff.  So we explored other innovations designed to support patients, staff, and caregivers.

So, enter Just Walk Out Technology.

Yes. When Amazon was able to solve this issue, moving forward was an easy decision for us to make. It aligned with the mission and vision of the hospital and allowed us to integrate an innovative solution that had been piloted in other environments. St. Joseph’s/Candler Just Walk Out Technology is the first one of its kind implemented in a healthcare setting, we are very proud of it. It checks all the boxes. Food is available 24 hours a day, to everyone in the building.

 First in Healthcare, and, at your first Morrison Healthcare location, correct?

Correct. 70 years later and we are still innovating— still proactively solving problems together, working to rethink how we have done things in the past, and how we can do them better today and in the future. Being the first to do this–and with our very first account—signifies not only an elevation of the onsite amenities, but it marks the continuation of a great partnership with the implementation of each new innovation.

Can you speak to the value of the collaboration between the hospital, Morrison Healthcare as a FANS provider, and Amazon?

This retail innovation could not have been possible without the collaborative process between St. Joseph’s/Candler, Morrison Healthcare, and Amazon. It exemplifies how hospitals can leverage technology to not only advance patient care, but also to enrich the work-life of healthcare professionals and enhance the visitor experience.

How was implementation and working with Amazon, from an operations standpoint?

Amazon was fantastic to work with. Lots of innovative, brilliant folks—and their approach aligns with our goals, to continue moving forward and assessing the needs. The team was very professional–from sales to implementation.  All of the construction crews were extremely responsive, start to finish. The planning, the crews, merchandising, getting the doors open. We came in under budget and ahead of schedule. They have all been fantastic partners. I have nothing but great things to say.

How does the Just Walk Out Technology Smartbytes market work?

Hospital staff and visitors enter the store by swiping a credit card or an employee badge. The store offers a variety of food items—some fresh and some prepackaged—and the technology automatically detects and charges customers for the items taken as they exit, eliminating the need to wait in line.  Customers can take what they want without having to stop to check out. Computer vision, sensor fusion, generative AI, and deep learning technology detects what customers remove or return to the shelves.

How does the Smartbytes market support the staff of St. Joes/Candler?

Our Candler Hospital Campus is the first U.S. hospital to offer the badge pay capability with JWO technology. By design, it is a truly seamless grab-and-go experience for users who are often short on time. And every single day, hospital staff are challenged to do more with less. The last thing they need to do is stand in line. The average transaction time for our Smartbytes market is 10-12 seconds, and the integrated badge pay feature allows staff to get what they need and it’s deducted from their payroll account. 

Can hospital visitors also use SmartBytes?

Absolutely. It’s just a short walk from our emergency department.  Hospital visitors will also be able to shop at JWO-enabled stores using credit cards and debit cards, as well as mobile wallets.

“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 Hinchey, president and CEO of St. Joseph’s/Candler, said in a news 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.”

Savannah, Georgia-based St. Joseph’s/Candler is the first health system in the country to design a retail market for staff and visitors that uses Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology. Learn more about how this technology can work to support operations in your hospital here

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