Google Cloud, Amwell foresee a ‘new narrative’ of virtual care

The COVID-19 crisis has spotlighted the vital role telehealth can play in ensuring seamless access to care. But until recently, much attention has been paid to how telehealth could imitate in-person services.

Now, said Amwell President and co-CEO Dr. Roy Schoenberg at a HLTH VRTL 2020 conversation, the industry has the opportunity to open up a “new narrative” of what virtual care can look like.

In a discussion moderated by former Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove, Schoenberg spoke alongside Google Cloud director of healthcare solutions Aashima Gupta.

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“There’s a collective realization in the industry that the future will not look like the past,” said Gupta during the panel – predicting that cloud and artificial intelligence will “revolutionize telemedicine as we know it.”

Three key themes are emerging about the future of health services, she said: Care will be tied to people, not places; everyday life will have a new context of care; and technologies such as AI and machine learning will help with human productivity.

“Telehealth is turning a corner right in front of our eyes,” said Schoenberg in a statement to Healthcare IT News.

“After years of trying to measure up to physical care, the conversation is shifting towards reimagining the healthcare experience altogether when physical and digital care take place in conjunction, rather than as alternative to one another,” he continued.

His appearance Wednesday with Gupta follows an August announcement that Google Cloud and Amwell had entered into a multiyear strategic partnership aimed at expanding access to virtual care, accompanied by a $100 million investment from Google Cloud.

“As we were looking into ‘how can we help our customers with this future-backed strategy,’ it became very clear that we can’t do it alone,” Gupta explained. 

Calling Amwell the “category leader” in the space, Gupta cited Amwell’s shared vision with Google Cloud to increase healthcare access, the “people behind the product,” and Amwell’s knowledge of the product and virtual care industry as some of the primary drivers behind the partnership.

“We know the world of healthcare is filled with tremendous disparities, and also opportunities, and technology will be the key enabler,” said Gupta. 

“As we continue to innovate with our customers in mind, getting a partner like Amwell will significantly, incredibly leapfrog our journey,” she continued,

“We couldn’t be more inspired and humbled by the coming together of the two organizations,” said Schoenberg. 

Regarding virtual care, Schoenberg invited attendees to consider: “How can these technologies actually offer an improved healthcare experience altogether? Can we bring together a critical mass of technologies and services that will allow us to ease the parts of life where healthcare is burdening people the most?” 

“We believe that coming together allows us to take a stab at this home run,” he said. “We know that this will take a village. We know that this is going to take more than just Google and Amwell to make this a reality. We still intend to come together to bring that call to action. We know that it is possible and it’s time for us to do so.”

Kat Jercich is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.

Twitter: @kjercich

Email: [email protected]

Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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