Sramana: Are you trying to compete with the existing healthcare network and provide a more efficient means of delivery?
Ido Schoenberg: The last thing in the world we want to do is compete with the existing delivery network. The important distinction between us and many of our competitors is that we believe the existing system is the right system. We do not want to replace your relationship with your doctor. We are trying to provide tools for you to connect to your doctor while you are at home or when the doctor is not in the office. This provides continuity of care and allows your physician to continually manage your care.
Sramana: So you are positioned to enhance the existing healthcare model?
Ido Schoenberg: We see American Well as an electronic loop that is a communication tool. We are not trying to create additional capacity or create a hospital in the cloud. We have a growing number of delivery networks using our platform. We create a tool that brings more and more providers onto our platform. We would like to see American Well in every doctor’s office.
Sramana: I am a part of the Stanford healthcare system. I don’t think that a doctor gets compensated for talking to me on the phone. They have a full EMR system, so it takes a doctor only five minutes to go over the results of a blood test with me. If that doctor does not have me come into his or her office, then the doctor would not get paid for the consultation. The result is a complete waste of my time and the doctor’s time. That is a stupid system.
Ido Schoenberg: You said it, and I totally agree.
Sramana: How does your solution address this issue?
Ido Schoenberg: The service that we get is the doctor’s expertise. Many pediatricians are talking to mothers over the phone because they are very kind people. If they spend two hours on the phone, they are volunteering two hours of their time without pay. There is no difference in their skills.
The challenge is that it is very difficult to monitor a phone call in a way that has a full audit trail and is fully documented. To a large extent there are clinical issues with a phone conversation. There is a huge difference between sitting in front of high-definition video and talking on the phone. The dialogue is much better over the video and the transmission is encrypted. The video session still provides the convenience option to both the patient and the doctor.
When you look at how some of the telehealth companies are operating today, they do not have access to any of the patient records. They cannot summarize visits. That is not the best solution.
Sramana: Let’s say you wanted the Stanford medical system to adopt American Well. How would they work with you? Would you integrate with their EMR system?
Ido Schoenberg: Absolutely. On the provider side, we want to make sure they are as informed as they can be. Stanford has a lot of information about you, and we want to provide that. The main gap that we are filling is the ability to ensure that when your doctor is not available, someone else can securely take [the doctor's] place and document the information that goes back to the main channel of care.