When I left their party late Wednesday night my understanding was that that American Well had bought Microsoft and was moving all 85,000 employees to Hawaii.
Apparently that was MaiTai confusion, and the real story is that HMSA (Blues of Hawaii) is American Well’s first client. Ido and Roy Schoenberg, with their ace marketing whizzes headed by Yael Glassman, have been making lots of buzz with demonstrations of their tool—including a standing room only sponsored deep-dive at Health 2.0 in San Diego in March. We knew that there was at least one insurer in the works, and presumably there are many more, as the business model is dependent on working with insurers in state networks and allowing consumers to access the insurer’s PPO discounts.
Other than the leis and MaiTais that appeared at the party, Hawaii is a logical choice. Why? Well the Blues’ main competition in the state is Kaiser. Kaiser of course offers its members online appointments, asynchronous visits, and post-visit summaries from its HealthConnect system.
Essentially, with the addition of the American live online visit—with its inclusion of video, chat, patient summary, history and ability to order test and drugs—the Blues has now got part of those services. What most insurers don’t have is the storage of the data. That’s where HealthVault comes in—now that online activity can be stored and easily transferred.
How’s this going to play out? Of course that remains to be seen. But
there are some alternatives. Teladoc (with whom I also spoke at AHIP)
have a phone-based system that allows you to talk to a doctor in the
state you live in. Their system can bring in claims and other
information to the call (as well as patient-entered data) and they
claim that you get a call back within about 30 minutes. They have over 1
million lives on the system. If you buy direct rather than through an
employer it’s $5 a month and $35 a call.
But they think (as does American Well) that the use of these online
or phone-based systems will not only improve the quality and access to
care, but also reduce ER visits and overall health care claims.
So as health plans try to “gain relevance” as one person said to me today, the American Well deal lays down a big marker.