New York Presbyterian taps American Well to subtly power their app-based virtual visits

By Heather Mack
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New York Presbyterian as added a new capability to its suite of digital health tools with the integration of American Well into its NYP OnDemand app, offering patients video consultations via two clinic services called Digital Urgent Care and Virtual VisitNow. This is the latest feature in the NYP OnDemand service, which launched in July and has been gradually adding new features.

The key feature of the collaboration is that American Well’s role is relegated to the background. The telemedicine company’s SDK powers the visits, but the experience to the patient is indistinguishable from the rest of NYP OnDemand, and patients can access the health system’s physician network that includes ColumbiaDoctors, Weill Cornell Medicine’s Physician Organization and New York Presbyterian Medical Groups. Instead of requiring patients to download a secondary app or have a virtual interaction with a doctor not familiar to them, patients don’t have to go outside of the NYP OnDemand app to move in between services.

“It was really important to us to offer our patients a single digital storefront where they could access all of our services,” Dr. Peter Fleischut, CIO at New York Presbyterian told MobiHealthNews. “Whether it is finding their way to our hospitals or finding their physicians for a follow up virtual visit, we want them to have all their resources available in one place.”

Fleischut stressed the use of physicians from their existing network as an important part of New York Presbyterian’s overall strategy. With Digital Urgent Care, adult patients can instantly connect to an emergency room physician from Weill Cornell for any minor illness and speak directly to the physician via high-definition video conference connection. The service currently covers patients in New York state, and plans are in the works to expand coverage to New Jersey, Connecticut and Florida. Virtual Visit, the other new offering, gives existing New York Presbyterian patients the option to forego another in-person trip to their doctor by connecting them directly with the physician through secure, live video conferencing via computer or moble device.

Dr. Roy Schoenberg, CEO and cofounder of American Well, said this type of partnership, wherein a health system’s own physicians and app integrate American Well rather than requiring additional apps and outside doctors, is in-line with the company’s strategy looking forward.

“We have a long queue of organizations following in the steps of New York Presbyterian that we are really excited about,” Schoenberg told MobiHealthNews. “It doesn’t look anything like the American Well app, it doesn’t require any extra work from the patient, and its variability to create that immersive interaction with that patient population is really paving the way for this next generation of how telehealth is being utilized.”

While some providers may whitelabel an American Well-powered visit, New York Presbyterian’s is different, Schoenberg said, in that they completely design everything from the ground up and American Well simply provides the nuts and bolts of the technology.

“It may sound like a small distinction, but the fact that we don’t govern what New York Presbyterian puts in the app and which doctors are providing the service really allows them to design the whole patient experience,” Schoenberg said. “We would never be able to create an app ourselves that offers all of this, so it’s an opportunity to step back and let them build it into their own programs.”