A New Kind of House Visit: The Future of Virtual Healthcare

Virtual healthcare is an increasingly competitive market. Here’s how one company, Teladoc, is standing out with new technologies and an optimized experience for providers and users.

Photo: Julia Cameron via Pexels

One of the few silver linings of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the surge in innovation that has been generated in the healthcare industry. And few transformations have been so consequential as the widespread adoption of virtual healthcare. A survey by JD Power found that the percentage of consumers using remote healthcare services spiked from just 7% in 2019 to 36% in 2021, and McKinsey estimates that usage of these services is now 38 times higher than it was pre-pandemic.

Demand for virtual healthcare had been steadily growing during the past decade, as competitors entered the market eager to claim their stakes in what promised to be a booming industry. But companies struggled with lukewarm adoption from consumers and providers—people were not yet convinced that virtual doctor’s visits were a legitimate substitute for in-person healthcare. Those worries all evaporated in the span of a few months after the pandemic forced us all into a digital-first world and gave more doctors and patients than ever before the opportunity to experience remote healthcare. 

Now that it has finally gained widespread acceptance from the public, virtual healthcare providers face two challenges: turning the pandemic’s tailwinds into sustained growth and contending with increasing competition from both large firms and newcomers. Providers must figure out how to stand out in a heavily regulated market with little differentiation. And, at the same time, they need to convince consumers that their services are not just a temporary solution for the current emergency—but an essential part of healthcare’s future. 

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Securing virtual healthcare’s post-pandemic future 

So, how do you seize the moment, capture growth, and stand out in a market that’s quickly becoming filled with big-name competitors like Amazon Care, Apple Healthcare, and Google, through a $100 million investment in Amwell? Teladoc Health, a pioneer in virtual healthcare, offers a few answers. 

As the oldest and largest telemedicine provider in the United States, Teladoc was perfectly positioned to become one of the pandemic’s big winners. But the company’s advantage goes beyond market share and time in business. Teladoc has long been at the forefront of innovation in the healthcare industry. It has been consistently recognized as one of the most innovative names both in and out of healthcare, earning it a spot in three of ARK’s disruptive innovation-focused ETFs, alongside Tesla, Twilio, Docusign, and Coinbase.

Now, Teladoc is using that innovative approach to combine machine learning, cloud computing, wearable technology, and big data to secure its post-COVID future, gain a competitive edge over its rivals, and continue reshaping the virtual healthcare experience. Here’s how they’re doing it:

Create an optimized experience for providers

Earlier this summer, Microsoft integrated Teladoc’s Solo platform into its Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare service. Microsoft’s Healthcare cloud is currently the only cloud service on the market that is custom-built for the healthcare industry, featuring tools that aid health team collaboration, improve access to data, and increase operational efficiency. 

This partnership places Teladoc’s platform at the fingertips of even more healthcare professionals and integrates the company’s services into their workflows. The network effects from increased clinician usage will further contribute to developing consumer trust and confidence in Teladoc’s services.

Improve the user experience

Most telemedicine companies are focused on providing primary care. Teladoc sets itself apart by leveraging its large portfolio of providers in high-demand areas to expand to more holistic offerings, like behavioral therapy and nutrition counseling.  

This new approach solves two problems for the company: creating sustained growth by turning primary care into an entry point for more services, and differentiating itself to address consumer pain points, like difficulties accessing specialist care and offering a more comprehensive, personalized, and consistent service.

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Differentiate with new technologies 

Teladoc’s high-profile merger with Livongo, a maker of wearable devices that help monitor glucose, blood pressure, and weight levels in people with diabetes, equipped the platform with the tools needed to expand Primary 360. This service focuses on long-term care and aims to disrupt the lucrative chronic disease management market. 

Livongo’s devices allow clinicians to perform blood pressure and blood sugar tests remotely, something that was unfeasible before and therefore limited the quality of virtual healthcare. 

Wearable devices have been shown to help patients suffering from chronic conditions take more preventive measures to keep symptoms under control, avoid costly procedures, and improve the overall quality of life. Integrating them allows Teladoc to further personalize its services, keep its users engaged, and increase the value that they are offering them.

Innovating the future of healthcare 

While it’s still too early to predict what virtual healthcare’s future will look like, it’s safe to say that it’s here to stay. Consumer demand for affordable and more convenient healthcare is becoming an increasingly powerful force for change in the industry. Virtual healthcare providers can secure a future for themselves by paying close attention to clinicians’ and consumers’ needs and combining technology with sensibility and empathy to advance long-overdue innovation in the healthcare industry.

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Carol Guasp

Carol Guasp

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