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Amwell co-CEO says there's more work left to do in telehealth boom

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Google-blacked telehealth company Amwell soared on its first day of trading. Amwell Co-CEO, Chairman and Co-Founder Dr. Ido Schoenberg joins Yahoo Finance’s Zack Guzman and Anjalee Khelmani to discuss.

Video Transcript

ZACK GUZMAN: It's been a hot and busy week in the IPO space. And today we got yet another company making their debut. That would be American Well or Amwell here, the telehealth company, coming out in the pandemic year, opening at $25.51 a share. Their IPO priced above its initial range at $18 a share.

And when we think about it, it's a heck of a time for a telehealth company to be coming out, as we know how big the shift to that has been over the last few months here. So let's chat a little bit more about this Boston-based telemedicine company here with the man who knows it best, the co-founder and co-CEO here.

Dr. Ido Schoenberg joins us right now, along with Yahoo Finance's Anjalee Khemlani. Dr. Schoenberg, I mean, congrats. I mean, we're seeing shares pop here on day one of trading. But I know that the growth here at this company has been happening for quite some time. So I know you're looking past just the day one debut here. But talk to us about the opportunity at hand here and what investors should know about what you have planned ahead.

IDO SCHOENBERG: Sure, Zack and Anjalee. It's great to speak with you again. Yes, you're right. We are an overnight success after a decade and a half of working at it. So that's great. Our mission is simple. Our mission is to try to help the existing ecosystem players in health care, the providers, payers, the consumer aggregators and innovators, to collaborate in a better way in order to improve clinical and their financial outcomes.

In that way, by the way, we don't necessarily try to increase the number of visits, which is a common way that many telehealth companies actually locate and measure themselves. But really, we're trying to think about how can we better enable connectivity so care can become more efficient.

That's a long road that requires enormous amount of barriers to be removed. And we started many years ago. And we plan to be at it for many more years. But we think it's worth it.

We think that when we are doing it, when we are said and done, people will use the right intervention for them, whether it's seeing your doctor in person, or connecting with a doctor digitally, collecting much more information, analyzing it in real time, and providing much more affordable interventions, so all of us, especially our parents and grandparents, could age more gracefully in the home.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Dr. Schoenberg, I know that there has been so much enthusiasm over telehealth. And I've definitely heard the whispers over the last several months of Amwell looking to do something. So how long was this decision in the process? And why pull the trigger now?

IDO SCHOENBERG: Well, we've been looking at the public market as a way to finance our growth for a while now. As you know, early on, we made the company with many strategic partners, including [INAUDIBLE], Allianz, [INAUDIBLE], Phillips, and many others that brought much more than capital to our relationship. They bought enormous amounts of value.

And when we realized that we still have a lot to do and much to grow, we felt it-- and the company is much more mature and confident in their ability to reproduce the result, we felt it was a good time to explore in the public market. The public markets bring many benefits to our company. But one of my favorites is that all our new shareholders have one thing in mind, which is the success of the company.

So we have totally aligned at improving performance, and that's a wonderful thing. As we grow our ambition to democratize healthcare, to connect more doctors to the trusted providers, we could benefit from the level of transparency and growth in public access to capital provides.

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, let's talk a little bit more about the financials here too, because you guys did have a year-over-year growth rate in terms of revenue of about 30.6% from 2018 to 2019.

We also saw net losses in the first six months of this year trend higher from 41.6, versus the last six months there, a comparable period, to 113 million. So that's a pretty big jump. Talk to me about how you're trying to work on efficiencies here and whether or not you see net losses continue to grow.

IDO SCHOENBERG: We made some significant investments in technology. Unlike a lot of telehealth companies that's really offer you a service by providers that usually are less expensive and capitalize with the get on the margin between the cost of the provider and the technology in the end value of a visit, we really, as I mentioned earlier, are trying to really enable the existing doctors of America, maybe the world, to be much more available and connected efficiently with their trusting patients.

That's a platform. And as you know, we recently announced a partnership with Google that we are very excited about. As you know, Google is a platform company, and they looked at hundreds of alternatives, and they chose us as their preferred telehealth platform to realize the mission globally.

Platforms are complicated. They're expensive. It's a very different task to connect a patient to a call center, to someone who is not your doctor, or even connect a cart from one room to another. It's a whole different ballgame to try to change the way that the base model of health is working by connecting everybody.

It's incredibly complicated, but in our opinion incredibly efficient. So a the losses that you see on performance relate to those technology investments that we plan to continue and make over the next few years.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: And Dr. Schoenberg, one of the key things that Amwell has been that it remains sort of a behind the scenes platform for the doctors and providers, while other companies have pursued very strong consumer-facing platforms. Why choose this? And what's the payoff, then, you know, by comparison?

IDO SCHOENBERG: You know, it's a great question that seems obvious. But it turns out that it isn't, because many people, for whatever reason, are not taking our way. Let me answer in way of an example. If I live in Boston and my child is sick, and I am able to talk to Boston Children's Hospital, isn't that great, in comparison to any telehealth vendors, including ourselves, by the way.

If I have a heart condition, and I can go to a Cleveland Clinic, isn't that wonderful? So at the end of the day, we have great providers that provide incredible services. Our role is simply to be a pipeline, to be a connector. It sounds easy. It really isn't.

But it's very, very important. So in many ways, our brand doesn't matter. We are just enabling connectivity between the trusted parties. And therefore, the brand that is most important in health care is the trusted brand that you happen to know and trust for many years.

ZACK GUZMAN: Well, it's day one here. As you say, it's a long road to get here, but day one going well so far. Amwell co-CEO Dr. Ido Schoenberg, I appreciate you taking the time to chat, along with Yahoo Finance's Anjalee Khemlani.