Teladoc talks flu season, legislative wins on Q4 call

By Jonah Comstock
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On its fourth quarter earnings call, Teladoc reported increases in total visits, utilization, and revenues, but also in net loss. CEO Jason Gorevic was optimistic, pointing to positive developments in Washington and the success of the platform during this year's worse-than-normal flu service.

Teladoc’s full-year revenue for 2017 was $77 million, a 106 percent increase from 2016. Net loss, however, was $106.8 million, compared to $74.2 million in 2016. 

Teladoc’s membership hit 23 million, a 33 percent increase over the previous year. The company did 1.5 million telemedicine visits during the year and utilization percentages rose in the final quarter, though the rate is still less than 10 percent.

“Moving to utilization, which as a reminder we calculate as total general medical visits divided by Teladoc's paid US membership for those members with access to our general medical services, Teladoc completed 464,000 visits in the fourth quarter, an increase of 49 percent from the 310,000 visits we completed during Q4 in 2016,” COO and CFO Mark Hirschhorn said on the call. “This represents an annualized utilization rate of 8.1 percent in the fourth quarter, which is an 84 basis point increase over the prior year.”

On the call, Gorevic pointed to the recent flu season as proof of some of the advantages telemedicine offered. He said 50 percent of visits in the month of January were from people who had never had a telemedicine visit before.

“During peak days in January, we conducted over 8,000 visits per day, with one in five visits due to flu-related illnesses,” he said. “During these periods of increased demand, I'm very proud of Teladoc's ability to step up and fill a critical role in the health care delivery system when the traditional system is overloaded. As we have said before, our highly scalable platform has a capacity to handle a significant influx of visits across the health care continuum. Moreover, Teladoc has a near-perfect solution for an infectious disease like the flu. Utilizing Teladoc in this circumstance is not only quick, convenient, and available 24-7-365, but it also limits the spread of the virus by avoiding exposure to other people in the doctor's office or emergency room.”

On the legislative side, Gorevic said the recent Bipartisan Budget Act will expand telemedicine access for more than 19 million Medicare Advantage (MA) enrollees, a market Teladoc is well-equipped to address.

“Number one, we already have a lot of relationships with significant health plans who offer MA plans, so that's an add-on within an existing client as opposed to going and having to land a new client,” he said during the Q&A. “And the second part is, part of our success working with health plans is integrating into those health plans, which will certainly be the case for the MA population, and we have a competitive advantage there. And then lastly, our caregiver service, which we developed with AARP a couple of years ago, is a very, very highly valued service for that population.”

Gorevic updated investors on the continued efforts to integrate the company’s Best Doctors acquisition into its main business and reported that behavioral health continues to be the company’s fastest growing line of business, pulling in $30 million in revenue last year.

“I would say it's rare that we talk to a health plan client who isn't interested in behavioral as part of the overall bundle of services that we're talking about,” he said. “It's become much more sort of table stakes, everybody expects it, than an a la carte add-on that maybe they're interested someday about.”