What Teladoc’s recent financial news may mean for companies looking for a faster entry into this $700B market?
Teladoc has been a leader in remote consumer and patient health access for two decades. Founded in 2002 and listed on the public market in 2015, the company has blazed a trail in most areas of direct-to-consumer video conference and digital health.
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During the Covid pandemic in 2020, CMS (Medicare and Medicaid) reported a 63-fold increase in fee-for-service telehealth visits from 840,000 to 53 million. At the peak, however, only about 8% of primary care visits were done by telehealth falling back to about 5% now. The highest use was in the Northeast and West and lower in the Midwest and South. Currently, about 65% of telehealth visits occur in the mental and behavioral health diagnoses.
Teladoc (TDOC) stock reflects the market dynamics associated with Covid. The stock was $83 on January 1, 2020. It hit an all-time high of $308 intraday on February 16, 2021, and in April closed at 34, a loss of 89% from the high. Is this a message to the entire consumer health movement?
Think of Teladoc as a Stage 1 telemedicine company. It is a pioneer and continues to evolve. The D2C Health market is rapidly expanding in breadth, depth, and robustness of consumer choices and experience in healthcare. It is the now and future.
Virtual visit technology is a commodity, a utility. Its greatest use is as an embedded tool in a consumer application that enhances or completes customer experience in a comprehensive offering such as Noom in weight loss management or Ro for digital pharmacy or LetsGetChecked for at-home lab testing.
The addition of other functions such as e-prescribing and connectivity to a broader range of digitally accessed services is driving both more complete service applications and more individualized healthcare. The model is increasingly a hybrid one, leveraging virtual care and in-person touchpoints.
Virtual D2C services are now more targeted but more comprehensive, offering specialty services that can be better individualized to subsets of consumers with specific needs. For example, autoimmune disorders or reproductive health, or adolescent health. It is also becoming foundational for pre and post-operative care, directed self-care, and chronic care management as well as wellness care and employer-based health programs.
“Telehealth adoption remains slower than predicted.”
Despite significant advances in the Pandemic Era, telehealth adoption remains slower than predicted. Adoption is often more a matter of government policy, payment assurance, professional workflow, and change management than technology or configuring a useful service bundle.
Consumers confronted with a new digital service often ask two questions: Does my insurance pay for this? Does my health provider support this?
There are still many traditional headwinds to the widespread adoption of virtual care. Many D2C companies are new and despite a solid base of scientific work still lack evidence of long-term effectiveness in real-world utilization.
If you are a D2C company looking to expand virtually, there are times to market and development expenses to either acquire or build an expanded technology solution. It is a major business decision to add virtual visits and e-prescribing to an already robust domain-specific content program.
Finding a technology solution such as MedleyMed that can bring virtual visits, e-prescribing, and pharmacy-drug acquisition in a single application can speed the integration of these services. This model is being rapidly adopted across the D2C landscape.