Episode #141: Completely Rethinking the Way Healthcare Happens – with Dr. Roy Schoenberg, CEO & Cofounder of Amwell


This is one of a series of interviews I conducted to better understand the role of platforms in healthcare delivery. Our guest today, Dr. Roy Schoenberg, is one of the most significant contributors and most accomplished entrepreneurs in the domain of telehealth & virtual healthcare. He and his colleagues are also pioneers in one of the most significant transformations that will occur in healthcare – platforms.

 Dr. Roy Schoenberg is President and CEO of Amwell.  Since co-founding the company in 2006 with his brother Ido, Amwell has grown to become one of the largest telehealth eco-systems in the world. Amongst numerous accomplishments and recognitions, Roy was appointed to the Federation of State Medical Boards’ Taskforce that issued the landmark guidelines for the “Appropriate Use of Telemedicine in the Practice of Medicine” in 2013.  He is the 2014 recipient of the American Telemedicine Association Industry award for leadership in the field, and was named one of Modern Healthcare’s 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare in 2020. Roy holds over 50 issued US Patents in the area of healthcare technology. He speaks frequently in industry and policy forums, and serves on the healthcare advisory board of MIT Sloan School of Business. He holds an MD from the Hebrew University in Israel, and a MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health. 

In this episode, we’ll discover:

  • What a healthcare delivery platform actually means and what it does. 
  • The revolutionary potential of automation in healthcare delivery and the two requirements of this new generation of technologies. 
  • The role platforms can play in assisting us to achieve the elusive triple, quadruple & quintuple aims. 
  • How platforms can solve the ‘digital dilemma’ that is now confronting every healthcare system attempting to enter into the digital era of healthcare. 
  • How platform technologies will actually humanize patient care by connecting people, connecting data, connecting technologies and connecting services.

I’m just going to say that listening to and learning from Roy Schoenberg is a treat not to be missed. I’ve had the privilege of speaking with and interviewing Roy a number of times. But, each and every time I do, it seems like I comprehend his vision and appreciate his wisdom even more than the last time.

It took me 3 passes through this interview to actually see – and I mean ‘see’ the vision of the future that Roy was describing. It is incredible. Roy describes the 3 domains of healthcare delivery that will be fully and seamlessly integrated through platforms, and the two requirements of the next generation of automated technologies. He paints a picture of a ‘digital companion’ that is so real and sounds so doable, but at the same time seems almost magical. As I listened to Roy, I was reminded of that quote by science fiction writer, Arthur C Clarke: “Any sufficiently advanced technology will be indistinguishable from magic.”  

One always wonders about the real-life challenges and timeline of transformational change when speaking about an industry that is as homeostatic as healthcare. In listening to Roy Schoenberg and other leaders like him, I have come to realize that the challenges are not technologic. We have those magical capabilities. The challenge is the limitations of our industry-centric framing, the limitations of our disease-reactive vs health-centric framing, and the limitations imposed by our current payment and profit framing. 

The sad part of our inertia is two-fold. First, it is the harm we unintentionally impose upon our patients and our providers of care – instead focusing on incremental temporizing measures that are a relic of a reengineering era of improvement.  Second, it is that the future of healthcare is going to be so much better than the past, and yet we delay that reality by clinging to a past framework instead of catalyzing a future one. Far from depressing me, these realizations only strengthens my resolve to reframe healthcare. And my hope is that this has the safe effect on you.

The incredibly inspiring reality is that we have lots of highly impactful leaders like Roy who are making that better future a reality.  I’ll leave you with a few comments by Roy which provide a snippet of his vision and his humanity.

I think that a lot of people still see these technologies as another way to do the same things we’ve always done…  like, take the office visit and put it on your phone – same stuff, different place… I think a lot of the market is still married to that easier-to-comprehend notion… versus the logistical power of what these technologies actually bring to the table and our ability to rewrite the healthcare experience through them…  we’re going to be able to give people the reassurance that they can be cared for in their own environment… completely rethinking the way care happens.”

“Completely rethinking the way care happens…”  That’s the reframe in healthcare we all need and all desire. So, let’s do it!

Until Next Time, Be Well.

Zeev Neuwirth, MD