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Putting on a ‘Digital Health’ Clinic to Improve Patient Care

The Clinic is a joint venture that will offer virtual care from Cleveland Clinic’s highly specialized experts through Boston-based American Well’s digital health technology platform.

CLEVELAND - Two healthcare organizations are coming together to form a joint venture that will expand the boundaries of care through telehealth. Cleveland Clinic and American Well announced the joint venture named The Clinic, during the first day of the 2019 Medical Innovation Summit (MIS).

Cleveland Clinic will offer up its expertise in virtual care and Boston-based American Well will contribute its digital health technology platform. The two companies are focused on leading the industry toward integrated, digital care delivery models that complement and are connected to traditional care settings.

Executives from the organization sat down with MD+DI on Monday to talk about The Clinic and its potential impact on patient care.

“We know there is that it is our obligation, honor, and duty to meet the patient’s needs wherever they are,” William Morris, Associate Chief Information Officer for Cleveland Clinic, told MD+DI. With that also comes the realization the physical aspect of healthcare delivery needs to fundamentally change.”

The Clinic will be based in Cleveland. Leadership for the joint venture is still to be determined Cleveland Clinic noted. Executives did not go into specifics surrounding the funding of the joint venture.

Roy Schoenberg, American Well’s CEO, told MD+DI, “In a lot of ways this is kind of a perfect marriage because the ability of the Cleveland Clinic to define and provide the best care possible is indisputable. [American Well’s] responsibility is to try to use modern technologies and the adaptation of those technologies to allow this to benefit more people. The joint venture isn’t only about making the telehealth service available to more people, it’s also about figuring out other ways in which the interaction with the know-how of the Cleveland Clinic can help people get better.”

Both companies have experience in working with one another.

“Sometimes when companies jointly decide to work together and create a joint venture, you always come with questions of – what is that going to look like; how are they going to work together; will the culture’s work...," Schoenberg said. "I think the difference here is that we’ve already been working together for five years," We know each other very well.”

That work led to the creation of Cleveland Clinic Express Care Online. The digital health service is available 24 hours a day for patients throughout the U.S. to receive a quick diagnosis for a variety of minor injuries or illnesses through a virtual visit.

American Well has experience with other health systems. In September the company announced a collaboration with Duke Health. The collaboration led to the creation of an app that allows patients aged two or older to speak with medical professionals about common conditions.

Digital health is playing a significant role at MIS this year. More sessions seem to have the theme of digital health and artificial intelligence.

“Healthcare systems … fall back to the usual suspects of life sciences, devices, and therapeutics. Our eyes now have been opened and you can’t turn away,” Morris said. “The power of these technologies is not going away. This is not a fad. Digital health is fundamentally changing the way we’re doing care. I think we’re seeing the beginning of the J-Point curve that’s about to [sky] rocket.”

 

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