Amwell dials in deals worth $320m to buy two digital health players

US telehealth group Amwell has agreed to buy two digital health specialists – SilverCloud Health and Conversa Health – as it looks to expand its services amid a boom in virtual healthcare delivery.

SilverCloud specialises in digital cognitive behavioural health programmes aimed at people with mental health issues like anxiety and depression, while Conversa offers a telehealth-based patient engagement platform.

The telehealth specialist said it is paying a combined $320 million for the two business, which will be paid for using a mix of stock and cash. The two businesses will add around $15 million to its revenues this year, doubling to $30 million in 2022, said Amwell, and will also expand its client base.

Amwell is one of the larger players in the US market, providing telemedicine to more than 2,000 hospitals and 55 health plan partners with more than 36,000 employers, and recording $202 million in revenue in the 12 months ended June 30.

The company’s spending power has ballooned in the last few months following a $100 million investment from Alphabet’s Google and an initial public offering that raised gross proceeds of around $740 million.

In its IPO prospectus, Amwell indicated it planned to use some of the proceeds for acquisitions to bolt on new products and services. Adding SilverCloud and Conversa would help it develop a platform that blends “in-person, virtual and digital care,” said co-chief executive Ido Schoenberg.

SilverCloud’s platform is being used by 300 organisations including big healthcare providers in the US like Kaiser-Pernamente, Optum and Providence Health, as well as more 80% of the UK’s NHS mental health services, said Amwell.

Conversa’s technology meanwhile is being used by healthcare organisations across the US like Northwell Health, UCSF Health and UNC Health to engage with patients using automated text-based conversations between clinician visits.

The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a dramatic increase in the use of telehealth in the US and elsewhere, and in turn seems to have prompted companies to look at consolidation, cutting strategic deals to enhance their presence, and avoid falling behind the competition.

Last year, for example, Teladoc and Livongo announced an $18.5 billion merger to create a digital health giant with pro forma sales of $1.3 billion from the combination of telehealth systems and health monitoring tools.

The big players are preparing for what Frost & Sullivan recently predicted could be sevenfold growth in telehealth by 2025, an annual growth rate of more than 38%.

This year, M&A has stepped up even further with an average of 22 acquisitions each month compared to a rate of 12 in 2020, according to investment group Rock Health, which expects tech companies like Amazon, Microsoft and Google to play a key part in the consolidation of the sector.

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