American Well brings online care platform Down Under

By Eric Wicklund
09:51 AM

American Well is taking its platform for online doctor’s visits overseas – way overseas.

The Boston-based telehealth provider has announced its first implementation outside the United States in a deal with Medibank, which bills itself as Australia’s largest integrated provider of private health insurance. The agreement extends American Well’s Online Care Suite to more than 4,000 business and government organizations, covering some 3.7 million people in Australia and New Zealand.

The announcement marks a significant upgrade for the company, which launched its online service in 2008 and has been steadily growing since.

“Medibank’s efforts reflect and reinforce Australia’s status as a global leader in telehealth. We are proud to enter into a strategic, long-term relationship that supports its vision of making Online Care a reality for the people of Australia and New Zealand,” said Ido Schoenberg, MD, the company’s chairman and CEO. “This announcement denotes a remarkable trajectory for Online Care. In three years, it has grown from our first launch in Hawaii, to the mainland U.S., and soon to Australians and New Zealanders located not only in their countries, but anywhere around the world.”

American Well partners with health plans, delivery networks and pharmacy chains to enable online care services that allow patients to connect live and on-demand with primary care and specialty physicians, as well as other clinicians. Providers can review a patient’s clinical information, discuss symptoms, diagnose and prescribe medications for a range of issues, from colds, the flu and sinus infections to chronic care management, behavioral health or nutrition. At the end of the consultation, the patient is encouraged to share a full record of the conversation with his or her primary care physician, maintaining continuity of care.

The agreement is also a significant step forward for the growing telehealth industry in Australia, a diverse and geographically challenging nation with a population of roughly 22 million. Last year, Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced a goal to deliver 500,000 online consultations between patients and caregivers within four years, a project supported by hundreds of millions of dollars in investments.

“A key pillar of Medibank’s strategic agenda is embracing innovations that can improve the health of all people, no matter what their needs or stage of life,” said Matthew Cullen, group general manager of telephone and online health services at Medibank. “Our partnership with American Well allows us to better deliver a range of quality, convenient healthcare services – including acute, chronic, preventative and psychological care – directly into people’s homes and workplaces, anywhere in Australia, New Zealand or around the globe.”

The latest announcement continues a busy year for American Well. In April, the company launched Online Care for Providers, a portal designed specifically for physicians. And in May, the company boosted its video conferencing platform through an agreement with Hackensack, N.J.-based Vidyo.

“Telehealth is playing an increasingly important role in American healthcare delivery, and at the heart of that shift is the high quality of the Online Care interaction,” said Roy Schoenberg, MD, American Well’s president and CEO. “Vidyo’s platform will offer our customers the opportunity to further enhance both the clinical and the personal experience for patient and provider alike – through its ability to deliver reliable, HD video quality over the Internet.”