American Well launches AW8, a teleheath app for doctors

American Well's new app AW8, allows doctors to connect directly with their patients through video conferencing. Photo: American Well.
American Well's new app AW8, allows doctors to connect directly with their patients through video conferencing. Photo: American Well.

For nearly a decade, the Boston-based telehealth service American Well has been trying to reshape the way we think about the phrase: “The doctor will see you now.” Some of the nation’s largest health care providers now use its AmWell video conferencing app to let patients with urgent, yet ailments that are not life-threatening tap into a network of doctors and get on-demand care. In December, the company announced it had raised $80 million in new funding, and just last week, UnitedHealthcare announced it would cover such online visits as part their network.

On Monday, American Well announced a major expansion of its offerings with a new app, AW8, which lets doctors bring telehealth directly into their practices. Practitioners can now use the app to schedule video visits with their patients, and manage medical records, payments, and scheduling. The app also incorporates Apple’s HealthKit data securely into its platform, allowing doctors to track the daily habits of their patients.

Roy Schoenberg, American Well chief executive, said the new launch represents a shift for the company and telehealth in general.

“The first generation of telehealth was initiated by a patient,” he said in an interview from Los Angeles, where the company is exhibiting at the annual Telemedicine Meeting and Trade Show.

But most of the business of medicine is treating long-term health challenges, not urgent care.

“Most of health care is unfortunately the less glorified management of elderly and chronic patients who have a variety of conditions that require a long-term relationship between patient and physician,” he said, noting that AW8 will allow doctors to better track patients and schedule virtual check-ins with them several times a week if necessary.

Schoenberg said American Well has spent more than $160 million on research and development for the app, and worked closely with Apple to ensure HealthKit data is safely and securely incorporated into its app. Patients can opt to share health stats with American Well if they’re using the Apple HealthKit software to manage their health; AW8 is currently available in the iTunes app store.

“The pieces of the puzzle are coming together,” Schoenberg said. “The collaboration through HealthKit now allows the physician to not only envelope their patients at home with care, but allows them to be significantly more informed about what these patients are going through.”

Janelle Nanos can be reached at janelle.nanos@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @janellenanos.
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