So if you need to see a doctor any time soon and it’s unrelated to Covid-19, chances are that your visit will be a virtual one.
“There is no doubt that we are seeing positive momentum and that awareness has increased. Telemedicine is now a household term,” said Dr. Lewis Levy, chief medical officer of Teladoc, in an interview with CNN Business.
Levy said the company has thousands of physicians under the umbrella of the Teladoc Health Medical group, including those recently added to support the increased demand. Most are contractors supervised by staff clinicians and a clinical leadership team.
More people want (and need) to see doctors virtually
Teladoc physicians, who work in a variety of disciplines, can usually diagnose and treat most medical problems virtually by discussing patients’ symptoms, so they needn’t risk leaving their homes to get blood work or other diagnostic tests.
Lots of competition for Teladoc
Teladoc may be the best known company in the burgeoning virtual health field, which is reflected in the stock’s stunning surge this year. But it’s not the only one.
MDLIVE reported Thursday that its virtual visit volume, new individual user registrations, and the number of its employer partners have hit all-time highs since March, when the outbreak took hold.
“While many industry experts said consumer adoption was at a tipping point at the start of 2020, it is clear that Covid-19 put virtual care on a fast track for substantial growth,” said Charles Jones, MDLIVE’s chairman and chief executive officer, in a statement.
What’s more, Intel said that its technology lets health care providers remotely monitor patients from a PC, tablet, or phone in order to reduce the risk of spreading the highly contagious coronavirus.
Other companies are focusing virtually on mental health.
Anisha Patel-Dunn, chief medical officer with LifeStance, a behavioral health company with 2,000 practicing mental health professionals in 200 offices, said it got all its clinical practitioners on board with a teletherapy system within the first two weeks of March.
LifeStance had been planning to make the move to a virtual model gradually over the next few years but the Covid-19 pandemic forced it to accelerate those plans.
“Everyone had to be quick on their feet to address the needs of clients. There has been a learning curve for clinicians and patients,” Patel-Dunn said.
Easing the strain in an overtaxed health care system
Teladoc also has its fair share of behavioral health practitioners.
Levy said that about 60% of Teladoc’s patients in the past month are first time users and that many are seeking mental and behavioral health advice, since the outbreak is leading to a spike in anxiety and depression.
Teladoc is on the verge of becoming more of a powerhouse with its proposed acquisition of InTouch Health, which provides virtual medical care for hospitals and clinics.
This, Levy hopes, will help reduce the stress on an already overtaxed hospital system dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Virtual medical care keeps health care workers safe, especially since there are great shortages of personal protection equipment,” Levy said. “You really have to triage patients in order to only send people who really need critical in-person care.”