American Well acquires Aligned Telehealth to build its behavioral health, telepsychiatry capabilities

The combination of American Well and Aligned Telehealth will create the largest enterprise telepsychiatry platform in the U.S. (American Well)

American Well plans to acquire Aligned Telehealth in a move that strengthens its virtual care capabilities in the areas of behavioral health and telepsychiatry. 

Aligned Telehealth provides virtual behavioral and mental health consultations through a network of clinical experts and specializes in behavioral telehealth and telepsychiatry services to hospitals and health plans. 

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but American Well said the combined companies create the largest enterprise telepsychiatry platform in the U.S.

Combining Aligned Telehealth's services with American Well’s digital care delivery platform, the companies will deliver programs that hospitals and health plans can leverage to address the mounting challenges of clinician shortages, fragmented care and societal stigmas impeding adequate behavioral health access and treatment, American Well said in a press release.

Telehealth competitor Teladoc has been building out its behavioral health capabilities as well. During a third-quarter earnings call, Teladoc executives said they are seeing accelerated adoption of the company's mental health services. The company reported more than 50% growth in mental health virtual visits in the third quarter.

RELATED: Cleveland Clinic, American Well launching new joint venture telehealth company

Nearly 1 in 5 U.S. adults—about 44 million—experience mental illness in a given year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). About 25% of Americans with a behavioral health diagnosis are enrolled in Medicaid, making Medicaid the main provider of mental health services for people affected by serious mental health conditions, NAMI data show.

American Well has partnered with Aligned Telehealth since December 2018 when the Boston-based telehealth giant added the company's on-demand emergency/consult psychiatry and integrated behavioral health capabilities to its platform. Align Telehealth launched seven years ago and has raised $12.9 million in funding, according to Crunchbase.

American Well settled on Aligned Telehealth as a behavioral health partner because the company is the leading player in on-demand telepsychiatry services, supporting major medical centers and Medicaid plans in their efforts to meet the needs of patients, Ido Schoenberg, M.D., chairman and CEO, American Well, said in a statement. 

"By adding the Aligned clinical network and expertise, American Well can further expand and enhance our virtual behavioral health programs, an exciting and important endeavor that will positively impact patients, their families, and the treatment teams providing their care, while advancing clinical outcomes and reducing overall costs," he said.

Aligned Telehealth also has an impressive customer base that includes Dignity Health and Christus Health, and the acquisition gives American Well access to major provider and health plan customers.

RELATED: Teladoc reports Q3 revenue up 24%, boosted by strong growth in mental health virtual visits

Nitin Nanda, M.D., founder and CEO of Aligned Telehealth, said the two companies' combined capabilities will help patients overcome barriers of access, cost, time and stigma when it comes to getting the care they need and reducing the burden on providers.

“We’ve long believed that by applying powerful technology and the right clinical expertise we can improve access to mental health services for those who need it. Within the hospital space and in service of the Medicaid population, we’ve proven this belief to be true," Nanda said.

Michael Balmuth, managing partner at SV Health Investors, Aligned’s sole institutional investor, said Aligned Telehealth has delivered proven results in the behavioral health space generally and telepsychiatry specifically.

RELATED: 1 in 5 physicians use telehealth. Burnout may drive more adoption, survey says

"We’re delighted to see Aligned join forces with American Well and to be stakeholders in this combination of two mission-oriented, results-driven companies. Together, we expect they will advance the cause of mental health treatment and more broadly change the way we all think about telehealth," Balmuth said.

American Well works with more than 160 health systems and 55 health plan partners with over 36,000 employers, covering more than 150 million lives.

The company has been investing heavily in specialty and chronic care, including launching a joint venture telehealth company with the Cleveland Clinic. Announced in October, that joint venture, called The Clinic, will focus on providing broad access to comprehensive and high-acuity care services via telehealth, the two organizations said.

The Align Telehealth acquisition is just the second acquisition for American Well. The telehealth giant bought acute care telehealth provider Avizia in April 2018 to broaden its business model.