COVID-19 has been a gamechanger for telemedicine. A perfect storm scenario saw 5-10 years of progress take place over just a few months. Telehealth attracted record amounts of VC funding in 1H 2020, and several IPOs are in the works for 2020, opening up more paths for investors who want to capitalize on a major reshaping of the healthcare industry.
Related Stocks: Teladoc Health Inc. (TDOC), 1Life Healthcare Inc. (ONEM), Accolade Inc. (ACCD)
In March, MRP made the case that the novel coronavirus could be the game changer that propels telemedicine into the mainstream. Today, there’s little doubt that telemedicine and the broader subset of telehealth will occupy a more central role in healthcare even after the pandemic is over.
Positive Experience Rating from Patients & Clinicians
First, one of the biggest obstacles that existed on the demand side — the ingrained habit of people preferring in-person doctor visits — is melting away. At this point, millions of Americans have gotten more comfortable with the practice of connecting with doctors virtually. For months, patients across all age spectrums, from babies to the silver generation, have had to receive low-acuity medical care directly at home instead of going to an office or hospital where they risk spreading or contracting COVID-19. Research shows that patients and clinicians rate telemedicine care positively, which helps the industry’s prospects going forward.
Insurer & Government Actions Have Contributed to the Game Change
The pandemic has also been an interesting experiment for how far America’s private payers are willing to go in covering telehealth. While the concept of virtual care has been around for nearly two decades, few insurers covered telehealth services, and those that did applied varying criteria and reimbursement rates. A big change occurred in March, when insurers decided to reimburse almost all telehealth consultations at the same rate as face-to-face visits.
That decision has played a huge part in the astronomical growth of telehealth use this year. eClinicalWorks, a telehealth service provider, said it saw usage minutes surge to more than 2 million minutes per day since May from an average of 50,000 minutes a month prior to the onset of the pandemic…