Teladoc (NYSE: TDOC) — the virtual health care powerhouse with operations in more than 100 counties — is building on its in-home capabilities and ability to team up with other providers.
Earlier this month, New York-based Teladoc completed a major deal to acquire InTouch Health, a competing virtual care company based in California. Strategically, the acquisition of InTouch allows Teladoc to bridge the entire continuum of care, all the way from acute hospital settings down to the home.
“We have a vision that virtual care is a better way to deliver care, not just domestically but around the world,” David Sides, COO of Teladoc, told Home Health Care News. “We have always been delivering care to consumers. InTouch approached [virtual care] more from a provider-to-provider perspective.”
Timing wise, Teladoc’s deal for InTouch couldn’t come at a more opportune moment for the company, which is coming off a strong 2019. Overall, Teladoc reported annual revenues of about $533.3 million last year, a 32% year-over-year increase compared to 2018.
Then, the COVID-19 emergency struck.
As a result of the coronavirus and the need to avoid person-to-person contact, most health care providers have aggressively shifted their normal in-person operations to virtual care. Although they can’t get directly reimbursed for virtual visits many home health agencies have leveraged telehealth to maintain their patient census and avoid using too much personal protective equipment (PPE).
Consumers, too, have fully embraced virtual care.
The number of claims for medical services provided remotely via telehealth was more than 8,000% higher in April 2020 than at the same time last year, a recent analysis from the health data nonprofit FAIR Health found.
“If you were feeling anxious about COVID-19 and needed mental health support, for example, you couldn’t even go to see a therapist,” Sides said. “For our services, we saw a large increase [in utilization] with the lockdowns. People didn’t really have an alternative to seeking care virtually in their homes.”
Teladoc delivered more than 2 million virtual visits in the first three months of 2020 alone, he noted.
“The world woke up to virtual care and said, ‘Wow. This is exciting.’” Sides said. “I now think this will be a permanent way to deliver health care going forward.”
Teladoc recorded almost $181 million in revenue during the first quarter of 2020, up 41% on a year-over-year basis.
‘It’s a big enough market’
Teladoc unveiled plans to acquire InTouch Health on Jan. 12. Under the terms of the deal, Teladoc purchased InTouch for $150 million in cash and 4.6 million shares of common stock.
The deal was originally valued at $600 million overall, though recent gains in Teladoc stock bring that valuation even higher.
Moving forward with InTouch on board, Teladoc will now be able to better connect health care providers of various types and sizes across the continuum of care. Through Teladoc’s technology, for example, a Philadelphia-based health system can now offer virtual specialist consultations and visits to its hospitals located in rural parts of Pennsylvania.
Founded in 2002, InTouch contracts with more than 450 hospitals and health systems, including 30 of the 50 largest U.S. health systems, Healthcare Dive previously reported.
Teladoc is also better positioned to help home health clinicians and caregivers practice at the top of their licenses, Sides said.
“One of the use cases could be a home health care nurse working with a patient,” he said. “If there’s maybe an adverse reading or a patient isn’t doing well, you could call that person’s doctor and have a consultation. Or maybe a home care aide needs to get in touch with a home health nurse.”
Adding InTouch additionally allows Teladoc to bring more virtual care technology directly into the homes of consumers. Specifically, InTouch developed a Bluetooth-enabled device with a built-in microphone that plugs into television sets, turning any screen into a virtual care platform.
While Teladoc itself does virtual care, a big part of its business model is also helping providers deliver more telehealth-supported services. That may seem like a conflict of interest, but Teladoc isn’t worried about losing any of its direct-to-consumer business.
“All providers should be delivering care virtually. It’s a big enough market,” Sides said. “People might think, ‘Well, you’re enabling people to compete with you.’ That could be, but there’s so much work to be done in [the virtual care space].”
Apart from InTouch, Teladoc has made at least 10 other acquisitions since 2014, data from online data service Crunchbase shows. That includes a $440 million deal for Best Doctors, a $352 million deal for Advance Medical and a $125 million deal for Healthiest You.