A New Kind of House Call

Massachusetts-based American Well launches its Telehealth service nationwide.

Massachusetts-based American Well launched its direct to consumer service Telehealth technology in December. The company is using a video-conference type of platform so that you can see a doctor without an appointment 24/7 and 365 days a year, just by using a live video connection over your phone or computer. So basically it’s a doctor’s appointment over a “Skype” type of software. The company celebrated the launch with a marketing campaign featuring Seinfeld‘s “Soup Nazi.

It was only a matter of time before someone perfected this technology. Video conferencing is becoming popular in a variety of ways in the health and fitness world from virtual personal training to online yoga classes.

According to American Well, Telehealth has been shown to reduce the cost of urgent care by replacing emergency room visits. And while the company lists other benefits in a press release, most of it is pretty obvious: No waiting for a doctor’s appointment or traveling to a doctor’s office, and no sick people coughing all over you, etc. Not having to get out of bed when you are ill is a pretty darn good thing. But there are drawbacks, too. By not seeing a doctor in person, you are setting yourself up for things to be missed. Without hands on interaction, there is a chance that there could be a misdiagnosis.

Online doctor visits at American Well cost $49, compared with a statewide average of $85 for in-office urgent care visits, according to the Healthcare Blue Book. Massachusetts residents get a special one-time $20 co-pay offer the first time they use the service.

“American Well is delighted to finally offer our full Telehealth service in our home state of Massachusetts,” says Dr. Ido Schoenberg, CEO of American Well in a press release. “We invite everyone here at home to experience the convenience, speed and savings of getting care online.”

To access the $20 first time visit co-pay offer, consumers can download the American Well app from the Apple App store or Google Play or visit americanwell.com and use coupon code “MA” when prompted.

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