On September 20, Teladoc Health announced that it will be launching a virtual health service for worldwide members beginning in 2019. Called Teladoc Global Care, the service looks to provide companies and insurers covering individuals across multiple countries comprehensive remote consultations at all hours of the day, and entirely within the company’s existing mobile app.
While Teladoc is certainly not the first virtual care company to expand its coverage beyond borders, the promise of an available doctor at any corner of the world, and in more than 20 languages, is no simple feat. In fact, Dr. Lew Levy, chief medical officer of Teladoc, said that the company wouldn’t have been able to extend the service without the infrastructural support of its most recent acquisitions.
“Historically, Teladoc Health was only available in the US and the types of medical conditions [covered] was somewhat more restrictive than it was today,” he explained to MobiHealthNews. “With the acquisition of Best Doctors and Advanced Medical, Teladoc Health is now positioned to tackle far greater degrees of medical complexity, so we are leveraging our global database of physicians to meet people where they are [with] a whole array of services. So, we really see global care being a natural extension of this portfolio.”
Teladoc acquired Boston-based Best Doctors in June of last year for a sum of $375 million in cash and $65 million of Teladoc common stock, and according to Levy provided Teladoc with a handful of new coverage conditions as well as the basis for a worldwide network. More recently, the telehealth giant picked up Barcelona, Spain-based Advance Medical for $352 million and at the time was quite upfront about its global ambitions.
“[Teladoc provides] a full suite of services—everything from colds and coughs all the way up through cancer, cardiac conditions, and muscular and skeletal issues. In the US we provide that today and we have since the Best Doctor acquisition. But outside the US, we were almost exclusively expert medical opinions,” Jason Gorevic, CEO of Teladoc, told MobiHealthNews in June of this year. “Advance Medical was really the mirror image of that. So outside the US they provided the full suite of clinical services, but in the US they were focused on the expert medical opinion. So as a result, combining the two companies provides us with a global platform to provide a comprehensive suite of virtual care services.”
The result is Teladoc Global Care, a service that the company said will be available anywhere a phone or internet connection is available. In addition, Levy said that the company has made a specific effort to ensure that responding doctors are able to provide recommendations for current and next-step care that take the local cultural and health care system into consideration.
“What we have set up with the Teladoc Health Global Care service is the ability of our members to receive a consultation with an experienced doctor, a doctor who is aligned to the member’s needs,” he said. “Because these doctors are available 24-7, and they can discuss the individual symptoms, they can provide medical advice, and they can also offer recommendation on how that individual can receive the best care. So we [did need to] have our many global offices and quite a bit of a global infrastructure in order to support members in different countries.”
While the acquisitions may have enabled Teladoc’s new service, it was born of employers and insurers’ increasing need for international coverage, Levy said. With the global number of expatriates expected to increase with each passing year, a service unrestricted by geographic location has and will continue to be in demand, he said.
“Increasingly, large US employers are having an increasingly mobile workforce as more and more of their employee population is domiciled abroad,” Levy said. “There is a tremendous amount of global travel that is happening right now, and we definitely have seen a need that the Global Care service available through Teladoc Health are addressing the needs of globally mobile employees.”