The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed patient habits, expectations, and preferences. About 40 percent of Medicare beneficiaries—more than 28 million people—used telehealth services in the first year of the pandemic, up from approximately 310,000 in 2019.1 Million will continue using telehealth even if COVID-19 transitions from pandemic to endemic. In a March 2021 survey by SYKES, nearly 90 percent of respondents said they wanted to continue using telehealth services for non-urgent consultations after the pandemic.2 Provider’s value telehealth for many reasons, including efficiency and new opportunities to scale their services without brick-and-mortar investments.
In the past 12 months, telehealth has attracted new investments from both strategic and PE groups. Many of these investments are aligned to emergent telehealth offerings in specialties such as chronic disease management, cardiology, neurology, and dermatology. Drug chains and other retailers are also jumping into telehealth. In 2021, Walmart purchased MeMD, to compete with CVS and Walgreens, which also operate in-store clinics and had already launched telehealth offerings.3 In February, Amazon partnered with Teladoc, a virtual care company, to launch its telehealth service through Alexa. The retail giant also announced that it would expand in-person care to 20 cities to complement its nationwide virtual care offering, which it says offers “on-demand access to high-quality clinicians…and a seamless patient experience.”4
Health insurers are also investing in telehealth. In Q1’22, Cigna’s Evernorth acquired MDLive to provide “a new model of care delivery…with greater affordability, predictability and simplicity,” according to CEO Tim Wentworth.5 Cigna was an early investor in telehealth--its venture capital arm had been investing in MDLive since its founding in 2009.6
As telehealth becomes more routine, we expect the focus of investment will likely shift to incorporating telehealth care and data into provider workflows, electronic health records, and billing systems. For investors, providers and patients, one of the biggest prizes will be for the provider of true interoperability, not the coolest wearable app.
Other notable telehealth deals in Q1’22:
In January, Dura Software acquired SecureVideo, a HIPAA-compliant, cloud-based telehealth software platform that can help providers “master their telehealth workflows.”7
In February, SOC Telemed, an acute-care telemedicine provider, agreed to be acquired by a health care investment firm for about $385 million.8
Stargaze Entertainment Group signed a letter of intent to merge with HealthPoint Plus Inc, a subscription-based telehealth company.
Medable, a digital scientific trial platform, acquired Omhu, a provider of digital dermatology care.
- Source: “Telehealth Was Critical for Providing Services to Medicare Beneficiaries During the First Year of the COVID-19 Pandemic,” Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, March 15, 2022
- Source: SYKES Telehealth Survey, March 2021
- Source: Elise Reuter, “To compete, Walmart had to acquire telehealth business,” MedCIityNews, May 7, 2021
- Source: “Amazon Care now available nationwide as demand continues to grow,” AboutAmazon.com, Feb. 8, 2022
- Source: “As Demand for Virtual Health Care Surges, Evernorth, Cigna’s Health Services Business, Announces Acquisition of MDLIVE, newsroom.cigna.com
- Source: Paige Minemyer, “Cigna’s Evernorth completes acquisition of virtual care provider MDLive,” fircehealthcare.com, April 19, 2021
- Source: “Dura Software Acquires Leading Cloud-Based Telehealth Software Platform SecureVideo,” globelnewswire.com, Jan. 19, 2022
- Source: “Patient Square Capital Acquires SOC Telemed,” medicalfinancenews.com, February 3, 2022