American Well announced a new enterprise telehealth service at the American Telemedicine Association annual conference in Minneapolis this morning. The new service, called the Exchange, will allow payers and providers who use white-labelled American Well telehealth services to offer their care to one another.
“We typically work with large health insurance companies and large health systems and what they do is they take our technology and they put their own brand on it,” American Well cofounder and CEO Roy Schoenberg told MobiHealthNews. “… And this actually works really well because in a lot of cases patients are looking to acquire healthcare from brands they already trust. They don’t want to go to a software company.”
Under the Exchange, participating insurer services will be able to negotiate directly with participating provider networks, allowing payers to give their patients access to a wider range of care providers, while health systems have the opportunity to see many new patients. The starting partners are Cleveland Clinic, Nemours Children’s Hospital in Florida, and LiveHealth Online, the American Well-powered telehealth system for Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield. Notably, Cleveland Clinic has already begun to experiment with using telehealth to make its doctors more broadly available, partnering with CVS Minute Clinics via American Well earlier this year.
One reason that American Well is embracing the marketplace approach now is that the Federation of State Medical Board’s multistate licensure pact will soon go into effect, Schoenberg said. Once it does, it will make it much easier for large hospital systems to offer their care across state lines.
“This eliminates geographical location,” Dr. Shayan Vyas, medical director of Nemours Telehealth, told MobiHealthNews. “Now patients can see us wherever they are. It’s no longer the family that can afford to [fly out and] see us, it’s now just downloading someone’s app, one of our partners, and seeing us.”
Schoenberg believes that, if the product has strong buy-in it will become an "Amazon-like" marketplace for care, which could change the way hospital systems market themselves and broaden consumer telehealth to encompass a wider range of specialty services.
“If I’m the employer, I decide what kinds of services I want to make available to my employees,” he said. “It may be traditional things like urgent care, but maybe also nutrition services, lactation services, chiropractors for back pain, sleep doctors, and so on. All of those kinds of things are going to become available because there are people in those areas that do a great job. … When we talk to hospitals, this is what we say all the time: If you want to do telehealth, think about what you’re best known for in person, and make that available."