The term “exchange” has become quite popular in healthcare in recent years, being mainly associated with the insurance marketplaces that were created for each state as part of the Affordable Care Act.

But now a national tech company is betting a new “exchange” could get telemedicine over the recognition hump and get it firmly embedded in the American conscience as a vital healthcare service.

American Well announced the creation of the new online service, simply called “the Exchange,” earlier this year. CEO and co-founder Roy Schoenberg, M.D., said he hopes to do for healthcare “what Amazon did for book stores and online retail [and] establish a national platform on which online healthcare runs.”

The concept calls for connecting insurers with participating provider networks, thereby giving them the opportunity to also interact with potential new patients and vice versa.

Schoenberg sees it as a way to “democratize” healthcare in the United States by eliminating siloes that have disrupted business. He has some well-known partners participating that lends the endeavor immediate credence, including the Cleveland Clinic, Nemours Children’s Health System and LiveHealth Online. The latter is a service created by American Well for Anthem Blue Cross that launched in the first quarter of 2013. By entering the Exchange, these healthcare organizations are able to redistribute their services online to new populations.

American Well officials feel the time is right to introduce the Exchange, as a new pathway to licensure for qualified physicians who wish to practice in multiple states was introduced recently by the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB).

This new “Interstate Medical Licensure Compact” is described by FSMB as a grassroots effort by state medical boards to help facilitate telehealth growth in the U.S. As of early June 2016, 17 states had enacted the Compact, which is expected to expand access to healthcare, particularly in rural and underserved areas of the country, and facilitate use of telemedicine.

To American Well and its Exchange, the Compact means provider organizations can enter the Exchange and redistribute their services under multistate licensure for their physicians.

I’ve written before about how telemedicine has yet to reach a tipping point in terms of broad acceptance. Perhaps American Well’s Exchange, along with introduction of the Compact, will have an Amazon-like effect on healthcare and help the field achieve household familiarity.

Follow Chris Silva on Twitter: @ChrisSilvaDRG

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