Google Cloud and Amwell have struck up a multi-year, strategic partnership to leverage the potential of telehealth technologies across the continuum of care.
The two plan to expand access to virtual care, which has grown in demand since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and improve patient and clinician experiences through telemedicine technologies that automate waiting rooms and checkout stations. The collaboration comes on the heels of Amwell’s decision to go public
, and includes a $100 million investment by Google Cloud that will be used to scale up Amwell’s telehealth portfolio so it can better serve the needs of providers, insurers, and patients within current and new markets.
"As the pandemic has continued, we've been hearing a lot from healthcare customers — not just in the United States, but also internationally — that they were looking for telehealth solutions," Aashima Gupta, the director of global healthcare solutions for Google Cloud explained. "So our plan is to bring Amwell's expertise and technology into the global markets where Google Cloud is strong, and also begin adding Google technologies, such as AI/ML and natural language processing, into their offering. In many ways, we're an AI-first company, so we're excited to infuse this technology into Amwell's solutions."
Amwell plans to move parts of its business from Amazon Web Services to Google Cloud, which it has chosen as its “preferred global cloud partner,” and will also migrate its video performance capabilities on to Google Cloud’s cloud platform to expand access to virtual care for both new and existing customers worldwide, according to CNBC
Both will work together to develop Google Cloud AI and machine learning technologies for assisting patients and front-line workers with intakes, inquiries, and triage, natural language and translation services for non-native speakers, and G Suite tools such as Meet, to improve collaboration among healthcare staff and with their patients. They also plan to develop sophisticated data analytics tools to help providers and insurers in remote home health monitoring, as well as enable the healthcare industry to service seniors and patients with chronic illnesses in new ways, without compromising care quality or user trust.
The pandemic has made the need for tools that enable virtual visits skyrocket over the last few months, according to Gupta, who says more favorable reimbursement coverage and demand from consumers make it likely that telehealth will continue to be used more.
"Even before the pandemic, the demand for telehealth was high. And this meant much more traffic and strain on telehealth systems," she said. "I think Amwell felt we were a good fit because we're an enterprise-grade cloud platform that gives them stability and global scale. From our perspective, Amwell is a good fit because they have deep domain expertise and understand telehealth workflows really well. They're a leader in this space for more than a decade now."
Amwell reported in its IPO that its revenue has increased 77% in the first six months of 2020, compared to the same time last year, from $69 million to $122 million. Its net loss, however, nearly tripled over the same period, growing from $41 million in the first six months of 2019 to $111 million in the first half of this year.
Google Cloud’s largest customers in the $3.5 trillion medical sector include Mayo Clinic and Ascension, with some also using Amwell for telehealth services. This fact, combined with strong competition from companies like Livongo and Teladoc (which recently merged together in an $18.5 billion deal) make a partnership between Amwell and Google Cloud even more desirable, according to CNBC.
"We chose Google Cloud as our strategic partner because of their phenomenal people, superior products, and open approach to partnering," said Dr. Ido Schoenberg, chairman and CEO of Amwell, in a statement. "Together, we will be able to offer an incredible array of integrated capabilities and help millions of people around the world access better care. Our collaborative work could literally democratize healthcare."
Products and services under the partnership will abide by strict security and privacy guidelines regarding the use of data access and usage, including industry regulations for patient health information such as HIPAA.
Google Cloud’s investment will be a concurrent private placement at a purchase price that will be equal to the price to the public in Amwell’s IPO, and will be contingent upon the closing of its IPO.