Why go to the doctor when the doctor can come to you through the comfort of your webcam? American Well is a new healthcare service which allows doctors and insurance companies to provide more “face time” for patients. Although this face time is virtual, patients have immediate access to a variety of specialists from their home computer.
American Well physicians provide consultations, recommend treatment, and write prescriptions online. Using PC audio and videoconferencing, interactive voice response (IVR) systems, real-time chat and web collaborating tools, American Well allows patients to speak to doctors immediately from an internet ready computer.
Physicians benefit from American Well’s service because they are able to set their own availability and then log online to the American Well system to see patients. American Well processes the medical billing claims, manages the malpractice, and collects the co-payment—the physician does not need to manage any of the administrative headaches which plague private practice.
Doctors are paid approximately $40 for a 10 minute consultation—with specialists earning more—using the standard billing codes for telephone or online E/M services.
What’s the catch? Your insurance company (whether physician or patient) must be partnered with American Well. Currently, the first insurance company to sign-on is Blue Cross Blue Shield of Hawaii.
It is an interesting idea and we will watch their success closely.