Almost two years ago Roy Schoenberg, CEO of American Well, gave a presentation about the latest edition of the corporation’s online health system at the 2009 San Francisco Health 2.0 Conference. American Well had recently introduced a 3.o version of its Online Care platform, which was the first platform to enable 24/7 access to physicians nationwide. Now American Well will take its services to Australia and New Zealand for its first international deployment of its telehealth technology.
How did the relatively young Boston-based company grow into an international corporation? Over the years it has employed the latest technology in order to carry out its original goal: to allow access to convenient and immediate healthcare services. American Well brought its health care system to 1.3 million Hawaiians in 2009. The system enabled Hawaii Medical Service Association health care providers to make themselves available for online and phone consultations with patients. Providers can view patient information, speak with and see patients and prescribe appropriate medication. Today, doctors across the state representing nearly 40 specialties are using Online Care to treat patients for acute and chronic conditions.
Online visits are meant to compliment care from a physician, but they offer patients something that regular appointments don’t — immediate health assistance. In 2010 American Well continued to expand access to online consultations when it announced an agreement with Rite Aid to bring a pharmacy service to stores. The service enables patients to communicate with Rite Aid pharmacists from their home computers, and in-store private consultation rooms are another way patients can contact pharmacists online. American Well has also continually upgraded its platform by introducing a number of new capabilities — provider-to-provider collaboration, Patient Centered Medical Home tools and practice capabilities — and partnerships with companies such as Vidyo and Numera.
Online Care is proving to be an effective tool in providing quality care to patients. Key findings from a study by Mercer highlight the benefits of using Online Care. The study examined a sample of system users, employees of Minnesota’s largest non-profit health services company. Over 90 percent of employees said they were satisfied with Online Care, citing convenience, time savings and estimated cost savings. Through an online consultation, care was successfully shifted to a lower-cost setting. Eighty-five percent of users said they would have gone to a more expensive setting — an emergency room, urgent care, or a provider’s office — had they not used Online Care. Australian leaders appear eager to see the same achievements there. Last year, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard set a goal to carry out 500,000 online consultations over the course of four years. Online care services are expected to launch in early 2012, and from there, Health 2.0 is excited to watch where this company goes.