American Well isn’t exactly a household name yet, but the telemedicine company, which has raised $121.1M to date, is making a major push — in some ways, rather aggressively — to become the global leader of telemedicine in large part by providing what is essentially Apple’s FaceTime video messaging app, except for doctors and their patients.
“The vision behind the company is people should be able to see a doctor on their phone at any time.”
Perhaps that’s why Mike Putnam, American Well’s senior vice president of marketing, calls it ” the coolest mobile company in Boston that no one knows about,” and it’s clear he’s eager for that to no longer be the case.
“The vision behind the company is people should be able to see a doctor on their phone at any time,” he told me.
Putnam is likely a familiar name for many in Boston’s entrepreneur community: In 2007, he founded Zeer, a web and mobile service that helped users find groceries based on their particular dietary needs. That startup didn’t go anywhere after 2009, but after that he eventually went on to become the lead of mobile development for TripAdvisor, where he worked on the travel company’s mobile website, helped increase mobile traffic from 1M to 20M in two years and led the launch of its iPad app. (More recently, Putnam held mobile leadership stints at Kayak and Rue La La, along with a product leadership role at Jana.)
American Well has been around since 2006 when it was founded by brothers Ido Schoenberg and Roy Schoenberg. It initially focused on providing enterprise software for hospitals that allows doctors to meet with patients and specialists using video conferencing. But, Putnam said, the company pivoted into the mobile consumer space in 2013 with the release of an app called AmWell.
“Now a great majority of what the company does is through mobile,” he said.
AmWell works similar to American Well’s enterprise software, except it’s designed to help people connect with doctors over video regardless of their location or connection with any specific practice. While there are certainly a number of things that would require an in-person visit, American Well said there’s a number of conditions that can be diagnosed and treated online, including bronchitis, depression and flu. Each visit costs $49, barring any insurance deductions, and users can input their health information before a visit begins.
“Today we’re very focused on acute care,” Putnam said. “Addressing chronic conditions is a major opportunity that is ahead of us.”
So what brought Putnam to American Well? Putnam said he joined the company in July 2014 after a former colleague asked him to come into the office for a one-day strategy consulting session on mobile and marketing. Following the visit, Putnam received a call and got a a job offer.
Part of what Putnam said attracted him to the company is its mission to disrupt the healthcare industry. More specifically, he was impressed with American Well’s ability to connect patients with doctors in three minutes or less, giving them another option beyond having to leave their home, drive or catch a bus to their medical practice and wait in the waiting room for however long.
And it’s not just doctor visits that happen quickly: Putnam said another aspect he likes about American Well is its ability to move swiftly through what has been a slow-moving industry.
Putnam said when he was at TripAdvisor, the company put an emphasis on agile development, with the CEO hanging the words “speed wins” on the front of his office door. The value of agile development, he said, was that you never knew what new initiative is going to work or fail, so “if you can try more things, you can find the effective techniques more quickly.”
Now at American Well, Putnam said “we’re trying to take those lessons from TripAdvisor to make great products that disrupt the industry.” He added: “Moving toward agile development is just a huge change and a very positive change.”
Image and video provided.