Amwell lands close to $200M in funding to keep up with demand for telehealth

Telehealth provider Amwell has landed $194 million in a series C funding round as the demand for virtual visits surges amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many of the company's early investors and strategic partners participated in the round, including Allianz X and Takeda.

Amwell said it will use significant parts of the funds to expand its investment in technology and telehealth services.

"The past two months have accelerated telehealth by more than two years," said Ido Schoenberg, CEO of Amwell, in a statement.

"We intend to build upon this momentum to transform healthcare with digital care delivery. Our strategic investors are providers, insurers, consumer gateways, and healthcare innovators. Each of these partners plays a key role in creating a more interconnected digital healthcare ecosystem, where our mission is to deliver greater access to more affordable, high-quality care," he said.

Amwell, previously known as American Well, launched in 2006, and the company has raised $517 million to date, according to Crunchbase.

The company says it powers telehealth solutions for more than 240 health systems comprised of 2,000 hospitals and 55 health plan partners with over 36,000 employers, reaching over 150 million lives.

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In mid-March to early April, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed telehealth into the mainstream, but as visits surged, technology companies also struggled to keep up with demand. Patients reported long wait times for virtual visits and companies quickly worked to add more doctors to their platforms, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Traditional telehealth companies also face competition from new entrants to the market. Some providers are using consumer-facing platforms like Microsoft Teams and FaceTime for virtual appointments during the pandemic. Microsoft has touted that its Teams app is HIPAA compliant and recently rolled out a Bookings app that enables providers to schedule telehealth appointments.

It's unclear whether the recent spike in demand for telehealth will continue after the COVID-19 pandemic, but many experts believe the accelerated use of virtual care is here to stay.

Telehealth companies have attracted attention from investors along with the rising demand for virtual care.

Venture capital funding for telemedicine companies surged in the first quarter of 2020 to $788 million. That funding level is more than triple the $220 million telemedicine companies raised in the first quarter of 2019, according to communications and research firm Mercom Capital Group.

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With fewer regulatory restrictions as well as enhanced reimbursement from both Medicare and commercial insurance, Amwell said it has seen growth in on-demand visits for COVID-19 symptoms and risk assessments as well as for referrals to hospital or testing facilities.

The company also has seen significantly higher scheduled visit volume as providers look to treat patients, especially the elderly or those with underlying health conditions, for prescription renewals, specialty visits and regular primary care check-ins.

Amwell recently provided 45,000 telehealth visits per day across its platform, and the number of active providers, or clinicians who have completed at least one visit in the past year, has risen significantly, company executives said.

"Takeda is investing in digital transformation across our business and building key technology partnerships," said Karl Hick, chief digital and information officer at Takeda, in a statement. "Patient journeys will be transformed through new settings of care as we emerge from COVID-19. Amwell has developed a highly scalable and agile technology platform that we believe can directly improve patient access and outcomes."