The CEO of American Well shares his message for investors who think telehealth will take a back seat again after coronavirus
Many more people are using telehealth during the coronavirus pandemic.
A big question is whether people will keep going online for their healthcare after the outbreak ends.
Ido Schoenberg, co-CEO of telehealth firm American Well, said that concerns that telehealth use will decrease after the coronavirus outbreak ends are reasonable. But there are reasons to believe telehealth use will remain strong, he said.
With a likely recession looming, many businesses are unlikely to survive, he said.
But telehealth is a lean alternative to traditional care could actually benefit from a cost-cutting environment like that, Schoenberg said.
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Ido Schoenberg, a co-CEO of American Well, knows that telehealth isn't "cool."
Only a small number of patients and doctors connected virtually even a year ago, Schoenberg told Business Insider in an interview. Barriers included regulation that makes it difficult for doctors to get paid for delivering care online, and consumers' reluctance to use telehealth, he said.
Now, that's changing rapidly because of the coronavirus outbreak. Quarantines pushed a critical mass of people to try telehealth services like American Well, and Schoenberg said his company has ten times more online visitors than it did this time last year.
Amwell, as the company ks known, isn't alone. Medical records giants Epic Systems and Cerner have noted 100% or more growth in telehealth visits across their technology in US health systems, they told Business Insider. The services quickly emerged as a viable way to keep non-critical patients at home during the pandemic, as Business Insider's Lydia Ramsey reported. Sidelined doctors also took their practices virtual, and healthcare workers adopted it to treat coronavirus patients from a safer distance inside the hospital .
Schoenberg said that concerns that this growth could be short-lived are reasonable. But telehealth services like his own will continue to draw users, because they offer a cheaper alternative to traditional doctors' visits as the pandemic pushes the country closer to a recession, according to Schoenberg.
"The current crisis is horrific. It's horrific from a health standpoint. It's also horrific from an economic standpoint. We see that many people are losing their jobs. Many businesses may or may not survive this. And a recession is likely," he said.
Keeping up with demand
To keep up with demand, telehealth firms are creating partnerships with giant payers and health systems, adding appointment capacity and physicians, and beefing up coronavirus administrative teams. Amwell is now working with UnitedHealth, Ascension, and medical associations in ways it never has before, according to Schoenberg.
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