For decades, the healthcare industry has operated in a brick-and-mortar model. You go to your local hospital of healthcare provider’s office, you explain your symptoms, and then your physician refers you to a specialist or gives you your treatment options.
Teladoc, founded in 2002, is a telehealth platform that enables patients to receive their care virtually. As one of the earliest entrants into the telehealth market, they started off focusing on primary care. Since then, they have expanded to include a broader suite of services. You can use an app of go through the website to request an appointment with a physician, and all physicians are licensed professionals.
Teladoc is among the first examples of a two-sided digital platform in healthcare delivery, offering distinct benefits to both physicians and patients.
Teledoc’s Service Offering:
- General Medical – Appointments for non-emergency conditions like the cold, flu, allergies, etc
- Primary360 – Appointments with primary care provider for routine checkups, ongoing wellness needs and referrals
- Mental Health – Appointments with therapists or psychiatrists
- Specialists & Expert Opinion – Appointments with specialists in dermatology, oncology, cardiology, etc.
- Wellness Care – Appointments about nutrition, back / joint pain, sexual health etc.
Value Creation and Capture
Value for Patients:
Teladoc provides an avenue for patients to access physicians at lower cost. Oftentimes, travel costs are not considered when thinking about healthcare. In many instances, travel to a hospital can be prohibitively expensive for patients, especially those living in a rural setting.2 As such, telehealth can be a cost-effective option for many patients. Further, Teladoc partners with major insurers and employers so that they can be offered to patients at a lower cost. Further, patients are given access to a large number of physicians and service offerings, depending on their needs.
Value for Physicians:
The service also provides significant value on the provider side as well, offering extra income to physicians. Physicians can sign up to be a part of the Teladoc Health Medical Group, and in doing so are able to set their own schedule. Further, the Teladoc team handles any and all administrative issues that come up (e.g., scheduling, cancellations, etc.). In doing this, the organization is able to draw in physicians and other health care providers (HCPs) with an improved care delivery experience.
Sustainability and Growth
By creating this two-sided model, Teladoc has set themselves up to succeed in the virtual care delivery market. They are able to bring in additional HCPs as they improve the quality of their platform, and with the increase in physicians, are able to increase the volume of patients and also provide additional services to these patients.
The beauty of the model is that it can definitely scale significantly without running into many issues. With time, you could even imagine a robust referral network where general medicine appointments translate into future revenue as patients are referred to see specific specialists for their initial evaluations. We could also see Teladoc partnering with specific hospitals to send patients referrals to those institutions after the patients have had their initial evaluation.
With time, there is definitely a potential for the healthcare ecosystem to shift more towards the digital side.