Meet Roy Schoenberg, MD, MPH
The overarching backdrop of COVID-19 has indisputably helped to establish telemedicine as a fundamental modality of care in our nation’s health system. Over the past year we saw waves of clinicians implement it in order to safely treat patients without having to forfeit timeliness, safety, or quality. And likewise, on the same trajectory we watched patients come to rely on (even prefer) telehealth to maintain care access, as well as to understand and manage their health.
Throughout this period both momentum in adoption and momentum in the realization of its potential have grown exponentially; and as more patients have embraced virtual care, in turn more clinicians have come to recognize its dynamic value. Not only are they seeing telehealth as a means to enable quality care interactions for things like urgent care, but also as a path for transforming traditional healthcare as we’ve known it.
It’s this powerful combination of two-sided adoption alongside a maturing industry vision that is among the most exciting things I have seen as a physician to date.
Telehealth Brokers Introductions
At our core, Amwell connects and enables healthcare’s key stakeholders to deliver greater access to quality care. Said another way, we democratize care by taking the great healthcare that is already in place to a broader subset of patients so it can be accessed from wherever they are.
This idea of brokering connections is not new. In fact, as some may know, I took some time off between selling my previous company and starting Amwell with my brother Ido. During this time, I was single, and trying to date online. I realized that online dating basically brokers introductions, and so, why not do the same health care? I knew patients, providers and clients who could benefit from introductions to each other – a primary care doctor looking for a cardiac specialist for a telestroke appointment or physicians in an overworked emergency department pondering how best to manage their patient load. This was and still is the vision that drives Amwell.
Driving Continued Adoption
While patients like the convenience of telehealth, convenience alone is not enough to usher in the monumental change needed to truly transform the industry. Clinicians who don’t implement telehealth services will find they are marginalized in their delivery of care. However, these clinicians still govern what is right for patients, which means for any technology to work, it must resonate with them. I believe that patients will listen to their doctors, so it’s critical for providers to continue adopting telehealth in droves so they can be a source of guidance for patients especially as use cases expand.
Leadership buy-in is also key. Healthcare has historically been slow to change, however technology changes rapidly, and if healthcare decision makers do not keep up, we risk missing out on reaping the value that telehealth can bring. To do this, healthcare leaders must address questions such as, How can telehealth change the way I interact with my patients? How can I rethink the notion of physicians helping one another in delivering care? How do I bind telehealth with artificial intelligence to interact with patients at home? How can I ensure telehealth is being used to enable the highest quality care?
Telehealth Allows Us to Rewrite Health Care
The biggest change we have seen this year when it comes to telehealth is the realization of all that it can do. We’ve gotten to the point where we understand that telehealth can be used for much more than pink eye and sore throats. We’re now thinking about how telehealth can enable existing relationships between patients and their own providers, and how hospitals can use telehealth to provide care for a variety of specialties like cancer, diabetes, ALS, and perhaps most importantly, how telehealth can be used to fully envelop patients in care to create a better quality of life for our most vulnerable populations. There’s so much that can be done with telehealth and we’ve only begun to scratch the surface. The Telehealth Certificate Program offered by the American Board of Telehealth (ABT), is a great tool to help providers keep pace with this healthcare evolution and allow them to lead the way forward for a better care system. I am honored to serve on the ABT Advisory Board as we work together to not only meet, but to exceed expectations for a much faster modernization of the entire healthcare experience.