American Well launches mobile-based telehealth service

One fast-growing telehealth service is embracing mobile devices as a platform for consumers to access healthcare. Boston-based doctor-on-demand provider American Well has announced that consumers can now connect with a physician using their iPad, iPhone or Android smartphones and tablets.

Doctors accessed via the app provide users with live video consults 24 hours a day, seven days a week in 44 states and the District of Columbia. 

"Video telehealth is rapidly eclipsing older telephone-based doctor or nurse callback services that do not offer either the transparency or the choice consumers expect from modern services, nor the level of clinical safety, insight, documentation and care continuity that live video encounters on American Well offer," said Roy Schoenberg, M.D., CEO of American Well Systems, in a written statement.

In related news, AT&T launched new cloud-based remote patient monitoring (RPM) technology that is delivered as software-as-a-service (SaaS) from Ericsson. Part of AT&T's ForHealth suite of RPM services, the SaaS offering is designed to help doctors monitor their patients over video on a tablet connected to the Internet, providing coaching, reminders and health education to help better manage chronic diseases remotely without requiring a return hospital visit.

One of the benefits of AT&T RPM SaaS is that patients can use Bluetooth-enabled devices to check their vitals daily, and send the data to a cloud-based system that healthcare providers can access through a secure portal. In addition, during scheduled appointments, physicians can communicate with their patients via video.

Building on the success of a two-year study that determined that videoconferencing significantly reduced hospital readmissions, Indianapolis-based St. Vincent Health has partnered with its parent organization, Ascension Health Alliance, to form a joint venture that officially launched a remote care management program with the goal of scaling the program on a national level. For the launch of the new St. Vincent-Ascension Health Alliance remote care management program, more nurses will be utilized to perform scheduled video conference calls with patients to address questions and enable them to evaluate how the patients are doing.

A recent research report predicts that remote monitoring technologies will save nearly $200 billion by managing chronic diseases in the U.S. over the next 25 years. The report cites other estimates that suggest remote monitoring can reduce the costs for caring for the elderly in rural areas by allowing seniors to live independently and spend more time at home, while reducing the need for face to-face medical consultations, by 25 percent.

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