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May 17, 2016

American Well Launches Telehealth Exchange

Boston-based American Well launched its newest enterprise telehealth service today, May 17, the Exchange.  Participating health care organizations at launch include Cleveland Clinic, Nemours Children's Health System and LiveHealth Online. It's the latest win for American Well  and telehealth applications leveraging WebRTC.

“The Exchange breaks down silos of healthcare delivery and connects every stakeholder in the industry – those who seek care, deliver care, and pay for it – to make great, trusted healthcare more accessible,” said Dr. Roy Schoenberg, CEO, co-founder, American Well. "We want to do for healthcare what Amazon did for book stores initially, and online retail, ultimately, which is to establish a national platform on which online healthcare runs. Importantly this platform is not just about connecting consumers to more doctors. Rather, we can connect consumers with the best provider brands across the United States as part of a national, virtual healthcare system.”

Healthcare organizations will be able to redistribute their services online to new patient populations for the first time.  American Well and its partners have built best-in-class telehealth programs over a number of years, working with what it calls "supply generators" that provide healthcare services such as a hospital or health system and "demand generators" such as insurance companies and employers.

The Exchange breaks down the stovepiping between supply and demand generators and their different telehealth services.  Now, organizations can connect and exchange services instantly online. enabling new ways to bundle telehealth products into care and population programs, along with marketing and distributing and marketing them to payers and employees.

Cleveland Clinic is offering its services using LiveHeath Online while Nemours Children's Health System will use American Well's Amwell consumer health. Digging through the layers of relationships, LiveHealth Online uses Vidyo services to deliver videoconferencing services between doctors and patients.  Vidyo supports a bunch of browsers and operating systems for video delivery including WebRTC.

American Well says it offers telehealth services to over 100 million people with 46 states and the District of Columbia approving of online visits. Since the company's launch in 2009 -- pre-dating the boom in WebRTC -- the company has worked with mainstream health care providers and insurance companies to deliver telehealth solutions including Anthem, Blue Cross and Blue Shield,Bon Secours,  CVS Health, EmblemHealth, and Numera.

API advocates -- looking at you All About the API -- can use American Well's mobile telehealth software development (SDK) to add online doctor visits into a native mobile app for Apple iOS or Google Android  platforms.  American Well also support a multiway video solution for joint doctor appointments, a "Sidekick" mobile app to supplement a live video consult with images taking on an Apple iPhone, such as images of EKGs, X-rays, and patient histories and online self-scheduling scheduling.

If there's anything limiting the growth of telehealth solutions and usage, it might be end-user education.  For example, my health insurance plan has offered a telemedicine option for two years, but I only became aware of it this January due to sheer luck by visiting the MDLive booth at CES.   How does my telehealth insurance option collaborate with my primary care provider? I have little idea, but it would be reassuring to know I could do a telehealth visit and know my records with my primary care provider would automatically be updated. 

Hopefully everyone involved, including doctors, health care providers, employers, and insurance companies, will start to more fully integrate telemedicine as a standard practice rather than a time and cost saving novelty. 

Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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