Last week Avizia, where I’ve been the Chief Medical Officer since 2014, was acquired by American Well (AmWell). From my perspective, the merger made perfect sense. Avizia has been focused on chronically and acutely ill patients—those more directly attached to a hospital system. AmWell, on the other hand, has been the dominant solution for community-based care; it’s an online consultation service for folks who might otherwise have gone to an urgent care for problems like fever, headache, or a sore throat. Combining these entities provides a solution that spans the spectrum of care, which aligns with the needs of many healthcare systems. Issues related to patient access and satisfaction (think: less acute, community-based care) are top-of-mind for many administrators. However, with 80% of the dollars going to 20 % of the population, managing the continuum for the chronically ill (which is more in line with the mission of Avizia) is imperative to provide better care at a lower cost.
The merger also marks a predictable milestone in the common transition pattern for big ideas (internet, aeronautics, GPS, etc.)—from the military, to academia, to scalable business.
Telemedicine started as a military-run effort. NASA, concerned that astronaut healthcare issues would cause mission failures, was the first organization to devote significant funding to telemedicine research. Early ATA meetings were opened with military-sponsored presentations featuring the Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center, a branch of the Army.
Next came academia. Millions of dollars in grant money were offered, but academics were no longer focused on the health of astronauts. Instead, the goal was providing care at a distance—to the citizens of Rural America. Many early leaders of the ATA came from the universities that built and deployed this technology.
Entrepreneurs are the third wave.Continue reading…