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An Alternative to White Coat Syndrome
When I first heard of Teladoc, I was the safety director for a wound care facility and a doctor I knew brought me over a flyer. He was quitting in a few weeks and wanted to show me his new business advertisement.
The following month he would be seeing his patients through Teladoc.
I hadn't thought much of it at the time. Obviously, there's a niche to be filled there, so I gave him an encouraging response and forgot about it completely for several years. This was back in 2015, a far away time and place, so distinctly removed from our present day reality.
In September of 2019, I got a wild idea and looked up Teladoc again. They had been growing. I did some reading and, having satisfied my urge for numbers and news, put a small amount into Teladoc.
My coworker asked what i was doing and I told him about my last few reads on their financials etc. He rubbed his chin and started typing. I hope he invested.
This was a month before my wife began experiencing post-partum depression symptoms and needed a psych consult. She put that visit off until we were already quarantined and I suggested Teladoc, unsure if they did that kind of thing.
They do that kind of thing.
She had a psychiatrist appointment scheduled later that day, did a phone video conference on her dilapidated iphone she won't replace under any circumstances, and got a prescription right there in the bedroom.
There was no copay. I was floored. There's always a copay, but telemedicine has different guidelines. It's generally 100% covered.
Her refills, all over the phone after going over what feels like it;s working and what isn't. Just like in the office, but on the phone.
I remember a time when I hurt myself working out. I went to a doctor, paid the office $250 to see a nurse practitioner who said, "You need muscle relaxers" and then paid $35 for muscle relaxers when I picked up the script an hour later.
I realize now that this practice is bogus. We've innovated a way that we no longer need the box to get the doc. Now, we just call the doc and he sends over the script for muscle relaxers and naproxen.
CNBCs Mad Money with Jim Cramer
TDOC and the Future of Healthcare
So, who is competing in this space? Most of the major news I hear is that competitors are going public in 2021. They're all far behind on this new model for how non-emergency healthcare should perform.
This is advantageous. The first to market is at a clear advantage, but what about name branding?
My wife doesn't care what the name of the company that provides her telemedicine is, but she calls it Teladoc. My mom calls all telemedicine Teladoc, just like you'd call something that displays shows during the daytime a TV.
Name branding is a huge thing.
Heinz makes me think ketchup and French's makes me think mustard. Hearing the name McDonalds makes me think hamburgers and french fries even though I only ever get the sausage biscuit.
These companies have a huge portfolio of offerings, but the branding already has a psychological foot in the door. TDOC is the Heinz of telemedicine, which will, in my opinion, become the Heinz of healthcare.
Sometimes you're going to need the big ticket item: The ER. But for the 100 aches and sneezes between now and then, you're going to call it in and get some antibiotics, sleeping pills, adjust your dosage of anxiety medicine or get some prescription muscle relaxers.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2020 Stephen Foster