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American Well offers a sneak peek at its HIMSS17 telehealth debuts

On one front, telehealth will become significantly closer to consumers on electronics everyone is very familiar with, the vendor’s CEO says.
By Bill Siwicki
12:29 PM
American Well HIMSS17 telehealth

American Well CEO Roy Schoenberg

Telehealth vendor American Well will be making a variety of technology announcements at the HIMSS Conference & Exhibition February 19-23, 2017, in Orlando, and in an interview with Healthcare IT News, it has offered hints at some of those technology debuts, which it plans to keep under wraps until the conference.

To best understand the new offerings, it’s best to understand how American Well views telemedicine today as a three-legged stool.

“The first leg is consumer telehealth, where a patient gets himself in front of a care professional,” explained Roy Schoenberg, MD, CEO of American Well. “The second leg is used by clinicians to follow up with their patients. And the third leg is how the technology is used to enable much more efficient work and communication between clinicians. These are efficiencies achieved within large health systems. That is where, for example, one clinician in an emergency room can acquire a neurologist consultation for a patient just wheeled in.”

On this note, American Well plans to announce new technologies and agreements in all three of these areas, and Schoenberg hinted at them all.

First, on the consumer-to-physician side, the announcement will concern how telehealth will become significantly closer to consumers over devices they use every day, Schoenberg said. “Telehealth will show up closer to you than ever imagined, on electronics you are very familiar with,” he added.

Second, on the provider-to-patient side, there will be demonstrations of how American Well telehealth technology works in the back-end systems of some of the industry’s electronic health records systems, Schoenberg said.

Third, on the clinician-to-clinician side, American Well is not issuing a formal announcement, but it will unveil a newer generation of its tablets that offer the ability for clinicians to interact with other clinicians on-demand.

Schoenberg said telehealth is viewed differently today even than it was just a year ago at HIMSS16.

“There is a growing understanding that telehealth, which in everyone’s mind used to be that little app to get in front of a physician, has transcended that use-case and ended up more in the world of what is probably better described as electronic care delivery, a much broader definition than what people perceived telehealth to be in the past,” he said. “The biggest difference between a year ago and where we are at today is that there is a more mature understanding that this is not just conventional telehealth but more the anywhere and everything of the electronic delivery of care.”

In other American Well news, several of the Suburban Health Organization hospitals and American Well have announced a new collaboration to bring video telehealth visits to patients in SHO’s local communities. The new service, myVirtualHealthVisit, launched February 6 and will offer patients more convenient ways to access care, including telehealth-enabled remote access to urgent care. Patients with a smartphone, or a webcam-enabled computer, now can talk with a doctor from home, while in the office, or anywhere they have reliable Internet access.

Hospitals participating include Hancock Regional Hospital, Hendricks Regional Health, Henry Community Health, Johnson Memorial Health, Major Health Partners, Margaret Mary Health, Riverview Health, Rush Memorial Hospital and Witham Health Services.

And on another front, ProMedica, an Ohio-based health system, and Paramount Health Care, a health insurance provider affiliated with ProMedica, are collaborating with American Well to offer live video medical visits 24 hours a day, seven days a week. ProMedica OnDemand connects patients and families with healthcare providers through computers, tablets and smartphones via the ProMedica OnDemand mobile app or web site. Medical experts can treat patients for a variety of non-emergency conditions such as colds, flu, bronchitis, sore throats, earaches, eye infections, sinus and respiratory infections, and more.

“Telehealth viewed merely as a product is a very outdated view of what telehealth can do,” Schoenberg said. “You have to think about telehealth as an operating system for the way you are doing things, as foundational as an EHR.” 

HIMSS17 runs from Feb. 19-23, 2017 at the Orange County Convention Center.

This article is part of our ongoing coverage of HIMSS17. Visit Destination HIMSS17 for previews, reporting live from the show floor and after the conference.

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