The Advisory Board Company will partner with American Well, a national telehealth services provider, to provide consulting services that will help health systems launch and sustain telehealth programs.
Cormac F. Miller, Executive Vice President of the Advisory Board, says, “Through The Advisory Board Company’s work with thousands of hospitals and health systems, we know first-hand that wrapping best practices around innovative technologies like telehealth is the formula to improve health outcomes and lower the cost of care. Our partnership with American Well will accelerate adoption and impact by giving our members access to a first-rate telehealth platform enhanced by proven solutions for the complex people and process challenges inherent in any large scale clinical technology roll out.”
Ido Schoenberg, CEO of American Well, is attending the HIMSS conference to launch the new partnership. He spoke to the Daily Briefing about his goals for the effort—and why getting telehealth right requires “much more than just technology.”
Advisory Board Daily Briefing Q&A
In the Advisory Board’s exclusive Daily Briefing Q&A, American Well CEO Ido Schoenberg talks about the partnership.
AB: You’ve described your partnership with the Advisory Board as helping to “unlock the full value of telehealth.” What does that mean to you?
Schoenberg: The main goal of our partnership is to bring together the Advisory Board’s best guidance and American Well’s best know-how and services. We want to help our joint clients be much more successful in telehealth, which clearly is just beginning to unlock a new way to provide care.
Telehealth is about much more than just technology. It’s a way to conduct your business differently in a fee-for-value world, where providers are financially motivated to take care of their population of patients whether or not they’re in the doctor’s office.
To do that, providers need to stay connected electronically with their patients. The platform that American Well has created does that quite well. The next challenge is unlocking the use cases for the platform that make the most business sense—and that’s really a joint effort between us, our clients, and now, very importantly, the Advisory Board.
AB: The health care industry has often thought of telehealth as a technology problem: that, if we can just connect great doctors to great hardware and software, they’ll be able to provide great care. But is technology only one piece of the puzzle?
Schoenberg: Telehealth requires lots of technology to integrate into electronic health records and other data sources, and to connect the ecosystem of payers and providers and patients.
But once you build the technology, you still need to create the right business model to pay for consultations, so relationships with risk-bearing players and employers are very important. You need to make sure the care provided is regulatory compliant and effective—so for example, when medication is prescribed, that it’s part of the formulary, and that it’s going to be available in the local pharmacy. And then you still need to make sure that there is awareness and use by patients. That requires some fairly sophisticated marketing and other capabilities.
So you need lots of technology, but you also need very sophisticated ways to provide reliable and trusted clinical services, and you need to engage patients and providers. That’s where we think this new partnership can help. The Advisory Board has many years of relationships with hospitals and delivery networks. They’re very familiar not only with hospitals’ technologies and processes, but very importantly with their business goals and priorities.
AB: What does the future hold for telehealth as a whole and for American Well in particular?
Schoenberg: Right now telehealth is mostly focused on primary care, and that’s very important. But the biggest promise of telehealth is to take care of chronically ill patients in their homes.
We want to build a world where patients can be at home with friends and family, but remain connected through devices that will send millions of data signals into the cloud. There, the data can be analyzed and compared with evidence-based guidelines to understand gaps in care. And then risk-bearing providers can, sometimes proactively, reach back out to the patient—in some cases, for example, prescribing medication that will arrive at the patient’s home.
The key to building that world will be to truly delight and excite providers. We want to build a platform that is simple, easy, reimbursable, and fully integrated for providers. They shouldn’t need to think twice whether they’re seeing patients in the office or online—in the same way that it doesn’t really matter whether lawyers talk to their clients over the phone or in the office.
AB: And how do you see your partnership with the Advisory Board evolving?
Schoenberg: The most important thing is that, while we have figured out a lot of the technology and practices of telehealth, we still don’t know all of the opportunities and how to realize them. American Well and the Advisory Board are going to work very closely together to figure that out, in great dialogue with our joint customers.
We want to create a coalition of thoughtful participants who understand the opportunity at hand, but who also are very thoughtful about the risks and who want to continuously improve on what we’ve started.
AB: One final question: Why did American Well choose to work with the Advisory Board, and vice versa?
Schoenberg: What really makes this partnership work is our joint values. We share an almost religious focus on what’s appropriate and fair for patients and doctors. We will never do anything against the interests of patients or providers, and we see them as the core foundation for the entire health care ecosystem.
So while other companies are focusing on serving employers and payers and retail pharmacies—and we certainly think those stakeholders are very important—American Well and the Advisory Board are completely aligned by the belief that we must serve the interests of patients and doctors. And if you figure that out, the rest of the ecosystem will benefit.
I think that level of integrity, that level of moral alignment, is what will make our partnership work.