Actually, before we can address “Who will win the Telemedicine arms race?” we must establish whether it is a race worth winning in the first place.
A true adoption of telemedicine practices requires a complete change in patient behavior, which is never simple to facilitate or realize. However, there are three main factors that I believe make this behavior change inevitable. First, consumers simply have an ever increasing comfort with technology. We have gotten used to banking online, using instant message customer service solutions, and FaceTiming friends and family. Second, health care payers (including employers, private health insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid) are all desperately looking for ways to reduce expenditures. Payers are actively working to change their members’ behavior patterns as they would much rather pay for a $40 telemedicine visit, than an $1000+ ER visit. Finally, there is a widely acknowledge growing problem around the limited access to primary care physicians and psychologists. Telemedicine, allows all patients – regardless of geography or access to transportation – the ability to interact with a health care provider at the exact moment that they are seeking care. Furthermore, that patient can return to the same doctor over and over again, establishing a true relationship, all from the comfort of their own living room.
However, even though the remote care segment of heath care shows clear signs of being the future for patient-doctor interaction, it is not clear which telemedicine solution will rise to the top of a fairly crowded field. Teladoc, the most senior player in this space, had an IPO this summer with a fully diluted market cap valuation of $758 million. American Well, HealthTap, Specialists on Call, MDLive, and Doctor on Demand are all telehealth companies with substantial VC backing and promising value propositions.
So, the opening question remains: Who is going to come out on top in this extremely promising telehealth landscape?
I believe that Doctor on Demand will outpace all their competitors because they are superior at both creating and capturing value within the telehealth space.
On the value creation side of the equation, Doctor on Demand appears to have demonstrated an impressive ability to create demand for their telemedicine solution with patients who previously had never interacted with telehealth. To facilitate this demand, Doctor on Demand employed an “Apple-like” strategy where the sole marketing focus was initially direct-to-consumer in order to build brand, customer awareness/acceptance, and establish a “customer first” product design approach. However, this strategy has allowed them to seamlessly pivot to a B2B strategy where they have the ability to work with payers that know the Doctor on Demand offering will be accepted, and at times requested, by their members. In this space, a B2B play is the ultimate value creation approach because one customer brings many members/patients onto the Doctor on Demand platform. Additionally, Doctor on Demand has a wide array of health care service offerings available – they quickly expanded beyond just urgent care providers to pediatricians, psychologists, and lactations consultants. This expanded service offering presents more opportunities for patient interaction with Doctor on Demand and creates the opportunity for those same patients to return to the platform for different services.
On the value capture front, Doctor on Demand has the edge over competition due to their focus on creating the best possible experience for each and every one of their patients. This “experience focus” manifests in a superior technology platform and UI, highly-qualified and well-trained physicians, and a responsive and dedicated customer service team. The result is that Doctor on Demand has more 5-star App Store reviews than every other telemedicine app combined – not an easy feat to achieve. On top of this customer-centric focus, Doctor on Demand has a highly accomplished executive team and is backed by a knowledge board, dedicated VCs, and impressive rounds of series A & B fundraising.
Doctor on Demand has all the tools necessary to be the clear winner in the disruptive landscape of telehealth.