Cleveland Clinic announced that it is forming a telemedicine joint venture with American Well to expand the reach of its doctors to patients globally using virtual visits and American Well’s digital platform.
A new digital health company is being launched by two well-known names in healthcare: the Cleveland Clinic and telemedicine company American Well.
The joint venture — called The Clinic and based in Cleveland— will leverage the hospital expertise of Cleveland Clinic providers and the telemedicine platform devised by American Well to deliver virtual care and high-acuity services to patients. Given that the Clinic will perform virtual visits, patients could be based anywhere.
“This new venture marks the first time that a major digital health technology platform has partnered with a globally recognized healthcare provider to deliver digital solutions for complex healthcare problems,” said Tom Mihaljevic, M.D., CEO and president of Cleveland Clinic, in a news release. This new digital health service will provide access to world-class Cleveland Clinic expertise and quality of care for patients in the U.S. and internationally.”
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While that may be true this is, however, not the first time that Cleveland Clinic has launched a telemedicine joint venture. But it does reinforce the growing consumerization trend in healthcare wherein people are demanding more convenient access to high-quality care.
“As the adoption and value of telehealth grows, there is significant potential to further advance the digital distribution of care,” said Ido Schoenberg, chairman and CEO of Boston-based American Well in a statement.
It is also a way for hospitals to lower their costs and potentially open up a new revenue stream as the traditional fee-for-service system comes increasingly under pressure from both Medicare and private insurers. Meanwhile, telemedicine has, in recent years, won increased reimbursement.
The joint venture comes on the heels of a collaboration that began in 2014 since Cleveland Clinic Express Care Online was launched. That partnership between Cleveland Clinic and American Well saw the creation of that digital health service which is available 24 hours a day for patients throughout the U.S. The service was meant for people to receive a quick diagnosis for a variety of minor injuries or illnesses through a virtual visit. Users can schedule appointments or make them on demand through the Express Care Online app.
Cleveland Clinic prides itself on being an early adopter of telemedicine and reported that in 2018 alone, annual virtual visits increased 68 percent. The hospital is relying in large part on a telehealth strategy to double the number of patients it sees in five years. It also projects that in that five-year timeframe, 50 percent of the visits will be virtual visits instead of the traditional, face-to-face doctor and patient interactions.
While this joint venture was announced Monday at Cleveland Clinic’s annual Innovation Summit, where American Well’s Schoenberg was scheduled to speak it is not the first telemedicine joint venture the hospital has engaged in. Back in 2014, it announced a joint venture with an Ohio startup called HealthSpot through which the latter’s telemedicine kiosk would be the platform used to extend the reach of Cleveland Clinic’s doctors.
The goal was to allow people to walk up to the kiosks, without an appointment, and be connected to a remotely-stationed physician. The physician would use the connected devices housed in the kiosk, staffed by an attendant, to diagnose and treat minor ailments like rashes and sore throats.
However, HealthSpot unexpectedly and somewhat mysteriously shut down in 2016. But the telemedicine kiosk concept apparently lives on.
Source: Medcity News