Amwell's CEO isn't scared by big tech and sees potential partnerships with Google, Apple, Fitbit to push telehealth beyond video visits
- As big tech moves into healthcare, at least one CEO in the industry is excited about it.
- Ido Schoenberg, a co-CEO of telehealth company Amwell, thinks their products could bolster online care.
- He's open to partnerships involving the Apple watch, for instance, as a way to monitor patients at home.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
The notion of big tech companies moving into healthcare is enough to make many industry insiders cringe.
But Ido Schoenberg, the CEO of telehealth company Amwell, doesn't think they're on a collision course, he told Business Insider shortly after Amwell's earnings call on November 12.
"A lot of what big tech brings to the table does not compete or overlap with what we're trying to do," Schoenberg said.
Building the infrastructure that connects patients with doctors online, and abiding by all the rules and regulations in any given US state, took 15 years and millions of lines of code, he said.
"That has nothing to do with the ability to use one video server versus another, or with engaging consumers one way or another, or using different tools and elements," Schoenberg added.
Read more: 11 tech chiefs, analysts, and bankers in healthcare reveal how Amazon, Microsoft, and Google have used the coronavirus to make new inroads in the $3.6 trillion industry
For big tech's part, partnerships with Amwell, which works with insurers that cover 150 million Americans, would certainly go a long way towards their renewed push into health businesses. Amwell provides online visits for urgent care and other areas, mostly through health plans and health systems.
From Amazon's new pharmacy offering to Apple's new watch, these companies are increasingly focused on how their products can gain traction in the $3.6 trillion US healthcare industry. It's way behind others when it comes to data and general ease of use from the consumer's perspective, facts that potential disrupters are well aware of.
Amwell's vision for its work with big tech
Amwell had a busy September, going public and partnering with Google Cloud in a matter of days. Under the agreement, Google will host Amwell's video visits on the internet and help the company digest patient data. More specific projects haven't been announced.
Read more: American Well just surged in its public debut. We pored over the telehealth giant's 196-page filing to find 5 crucial details about how it plans to reshape healthcare.
But Schoenberg's vision goes way beyond the work with Google.
"What I would want to see in world trends going forward is the continual migration from transactional to continuous," he said. "Telehealth not as a one and done — I need a script for my sore throat-kind of thing — but rather as a way to really manage my illness, especially if it's chronic."
Over the past few months, there have been dueling trends in the telehealth landscape. Fueled by the coronavirus pandemic and the need it caused for remote care, vendors like Amwell have taken off. But now there's pressure to consolidate, or else make offerings less tied to acute illnesses. When Teladoc, Amwell's key rival, bought Livongo, a chronic care company, many experts said it was a way to keep virtual care relevant at scale.
Read more: Here are the 17 digital health startups that are ripe for a Wall Street debut
Acquisitions — Schoenberg also told Business Insider that he was open to buying a mental health startup — is one way to do that. Partnerships with big tech companies may be another. Schoenberg said that he wanted to partner with Apple, Fitbit, Samsung, and just about any company that's able to plug into Amwell's services and improve them.
For example, big tech could bolster Amwell's ability to capture data in the home, deploy algorithms to better understand that data, and automate clinical programs as soon during this quarter, he said.
"You really need partners. You really need more people that bring what they excel in into the ecosystem that we connected," he said. "And our ability to work with them to connect their offering into our infrastructure, if you will, is something that we are very focused on."
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