Teladoc on Alexa signals growth in virtual healthcare
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By Emma Gosselin
“Hey Alexa, can you connect me to a doctor?”
Last month, Amazon and Teladoc rolled out on-demand telehealth services through Amazon’s Alexa devices. With a simple voice command, people will now be able to connect with a healthcare provider 24/7 for non-emergency needs.
This monumental move indicates the rising importance of virtual medical services within the healthcare ecosystem.
Partnering with a company like Amazon promises a unique opportunity for Teladoc. With around 25% of U.S. households owning an Amazon Alexa device, the telemedicine company can tap into an enormous number of prospective clients while expanding its “mission to address the full spectrum of health and well-being.”
Why is Amazon expanding into the healthcare arena?
Amazon has made major moves into the healthcare market over the last few years.
In 2018, Amazon entered the healthcare market with the acquisition of Pillpack, an online pharmaceutical delivery service. Since this acquisition, Pillpack has proven to be a top competitor of pharmacy benefit managers in the pharmacy space.
Following that, Amazon introduced Amazon Care in 2019.
Amazon Care provides in-person and virtual healthcare services via home visits, chats or video calls with healthcare providers. Initially, Amazon only offered Amazon Care to eligible Amazon employees and their families. More recently, Amazon Care expanded its availability to individuals in select zip codes.
Teladoc on Alexa doubles down on Amazon’s footprint in the acute care space as they work to increase the accessibility and efficiency of healthcare.
Teladoc on Alexa provides voice-activated virtual care to individuals with compatible devices, like the Echo, Echo Dot and Echo Show. The 24/7 healthcare service is for non-emergency conditions, like colds and allergies. Right now, individuals can consult with Teladoc medical professionals by audio, but Amazon expects to feature video consults soon.
What value does telehealth offer?
The COVID-19 pandemic pushed telemedicine into the spotlight. In fact, telehealth grew by over 8,336% due to the pandemic. In particular, we saw tremendous telehealth growth across certain specialties, such as internal medicine and psychiatry.
Many patients are excited to seek new avenues for healthcare that are more flexible and convenient, suggesting that the market is ready for new telehealth offerings, like Teladoc on Alexa.
Although telehealth experienced significant growth at the start of the pandemic, it began to decline around mid-2020. While the return to in-person visits contributed to this trend, telehealth visits also fell because some specialties, like dermatology, are difficult or impossible to practice in a virtual setting. Teladoc on Alexa focuses on general, non-emergency care, which would seem to lend itself well to telehealth.
How might Teladoc on Alexa impact the healthcare landscape?
Teladoc on Alexa will likely increase the convenience and efficiency of many routine healthcare services as they also aim to increase and disrupt the healthcare market.
More technology companies are trying to make in-roads in healthcare. At the end of 2021, we saw Oracle enter the healthcare market with its acquisition of Cerner. With healthcare being an $8.3T industry, it’s no surprise tech companies like Amazon and Oracle want a piece of the action. Big tech companies recognize the potential to transform and enhance healthcare delivery through developing digital tools.
Teladoc is also likely trying to increase its market share by appealing directly to patients. As of October 2021, Teladoc had a little over 10% of the telehealth software company market share. Over 65% of hospitals have a telemedicine solution installed, and Zoom accounts for nearly a third of the market – it's a bit of a crowded space. This move could help offer them new revenue generation opportunities in the direct-to-consumer space outside the traditional hospital setting.
For healthcare providers, Teladoc on Alexa also offers new ways to connect with patients and deliver care. Physicians can meet with patients outside their usual territories, reaching less accessible patients, like patients in rural areas.
Teladoc on Alexa demonstrates just how much the healthcare landscape continues to evolve. As care shifts from more traditional, in-person settings to virtual settings, healthcare commercial intelligence can keep you up to date on the latest industry developments.
To hear more about Teladoc’s approach to telemedicine, check out our latest podcast, where we talk to Daniel Trencher, senior vice president of corporate strategy at Teladoc.
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