Teladoc the nation’s first and largest telehealth platform, crossed an industry milestone this week with the completion of its 1 millionth telehealth visit. Each telehealth visit reflects an interaction between a board-certified, state-licensed physician and a patient in need of health care via video, phone or online.
“Hitting our 1 millionth visit underscores the growing adoption and utilization of telehealth services across the country,” said Jason Gorevic, Teladoc chief executive officer. “This Teladoc milestone is evidence of the value we deliver and the confidence our employers, members, physicians and hospital systems have in our ability to provide quality health care where and when people need it most.”
Earlier this year Teladoc earned the No. 27 spot on MIT Technology Review’s annual list of 50 Smartest Companies 2015. Teladoc was honored alongside industry leaders Tesla Motors, Google, Amazon, Apple, Uber and Facebook, among others.
To make the list, a company must have truly innovative technology and a business model that is both practical and ambitious, with the result that it has set the agenda in its field over the past 12 months. “It is an honor to be recognized among these industry trailblazers,” said Gorevic. “As the only telehealth provider to make the list, this affirms our position at the forefront of the telehealth industry.”
The technology for these types of visits has been available for years but few patients and doctors tried it because of one very big obstacle: insurance companies wouldn’t pay for it. As a result, Teladoc, founded in 2002, was initially slow to catch on. But after it grew revenues by 100% in 2013 and with sales set to double again this year, investors have come running: The company just closed a $50 million Series F fundraising round, bringing its total funding to roughly $100 million, according to Gorevic, who joined the company in 2009. (Gorevic even had to turn away investors as the recent funding round was oversubscribed, he says.)
What made the difference? The Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, put pressure on doctor’s offices, who are seeing more patients, as well as employers, who are looking to cut healthcare costs. As a result, telemedicine is becoming increasingly popular as a cheaper alternative to going to the emergency room.
According to an article in Fortune, insurance companies including Aetna, Blue Shield of California and Oscar—which offers Obamacare plans on New York’s health exchange—have recently signed on with Teladoc, as have Home Depot, T-Mobile, pension giant CalPERS, and others. The Affordable Care Act “is certainly an accelerator for us,” Gorevic says.
Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII), America’s largest military shipbuilding company and a provider of manufacturing, engineering and management services to the nuclear energy, oil and gas markets, is among the growing number of Teladoc clients and large employers who are realizing the benefits of telehealth. Seeing the value that Teladoc brings to an increasingly complex health care environment, HII rolled out the Teladoc platform in July 2014 for more than 13,000 employees in an effort to help their employees and their families get convenient, affordable medical care.
The decision provided employees 24/7 access – including nights, weekends and holidays – to more than 2,000 physicians and behavioral health specialists has saved Huntington Ingalls Industries $483,005 in health care and productivity costs. According to them their employees are delighted with the Teladoc program and reported a 97 percent “good” or “excellent” rating for their Teladoc physician.
The National Business Group on Health reports that 74 percent of large employers are expected to offer telemedicine in 2016 compared to 48 percent in 2015 and only 28 percent in 2014. After acquiring its two main competitors—AmeriDoc and Consult A Doctor—over the past year, Teladoc is the largest telemedicine provider, with 8 million individual patients from 4,000 clients.
More than 12.5 million U.S. members are connected to Teladoc’s network of over 2,000 board-certified, state-licensed physicians and behavioral health professionals who provide care for a wide range of non-emergency conditions. With a median response time of less than 10 minutes, Teladoc physicians will perform more than 525,000 telehealth visits in 2015. Teladoc and its physicians consistently earn a 95 percent member satisfaction rating or better, and Teladoc is the only telehealth company to be certified by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) for its physician credentialing process.
Many of doctors who are on-call with Teladoc do so in their spare hours (often, when they’re not running their own practice or pulling hospital shifts)—similar to the way on-demand car startup Uber allows taxi drivers to connect to the service whenever they’re on the road and looking to pick up passengers.
Doctors can treat flu symptoms, rashes, allergies, urinary tract infections, and bronchitis—and even prescribe medication—without ever physically seeing the patient. Gorevic says nurses then go back and review the charts to effectively audit the diagnoses and treatment. Teladoc refers about 1% of consultations to the E.R., and 5% to 6% to a primary care physician or urgent care center. Teladoc maintains a 92 percent medical resolution rate and a 95 percent patient satisfaction rate.
Teladoc charges an annual subscription fee for its service plus a $40 co-pay per video or phone appointment with a doctor, though employers sometimes subsidize or cover the co-pay completely for their employees.