Israeli HMO Signs Giant Telemedicine Agreement With U.S. Startup

Meuhedet hopes to provide better services to compete with larger rivals

FILE PHOTO: In this Dec. 9, 2017 photo, an elderly woman has her mouth inspected by Dr. Winston Flores, who uses the lamp of his smart phone during a free medical campaign in La Guaira, Venezuela.
Fernando Llano/AP

Israel’s Meuhedet health maintenance organization has signed a deal with the U.S. telemedicine company American Well that could reach a value of $50 million to $60 million, TheMarker has learned.

The HMO confirmed the deal but refused to give details, saying it involved commercial secrets.

American Well was formed a decade ago by Israeli brothers Ido and Roy Schoenberg to provide medical services by video calls and handling administration, security and record keeping.

The company serves 80 million users and works with companies like Google, Microsoft and Hilton. Meuhedet, which will be the first non-U.S. organization to use the service, reportedly hopes the deal will help it compete with its bigger rivals. With a market share of just 14%, it’s Israel’s third-largest HMO.

“We evaluated for a year and a half the possibility of upgrading our services,” especially outside central Israel,” said Zeev Wurmbrand, Meuhedet’s CEO.

“Today, people come to a clinic or emergency room at night, when the level of care isn’t good enough. Some HMOs already offer a remote doctor but the disadvantage with the system is that the HMO still chooses which doctor provides the service and the user can pick the doctor he wants.”

In the first stage, scheduled to begin in about a year, family practitioners, pediatricians, gynecologists and psychologists will be available.

Union officials expressed doubts about the new service’s effect on the wages and benefits of Meuhedet employees.