Scoop: A 2018 acquisition paved the way for Teladoc Health's new nutrition offering

Unveiled today, the new Teladoc Nutrition program was built on the back of TelaDietitian's existing network of more than 100 registered dietitians.
By Dave Muoio
02:42 pm
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Editor's note: This article has been edited after publication.

Last December, Teladoc Health made an unannounced deal with TelaDietitian (formerly Nutrify), a consumer and enterprise platform for video consultations with registered dietitians, according to documents provided to MobiHealthNews.

This strategic acquisition provided Teladoc access to the smaller company’s multi-state network of registered dietitians, as well as the expertise of nutritional platform expertise of TelaDietitian’s former CEO, Jackie Elnahar.

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With these in hand, Teladoc announced today that it is kicking off an enterprise nutrition counseling service that will employ TelaDietitian’s assets alongside other nutrition support tools built into Teladoc's app-based platform.

“Adding Teladoc Nutrition is the latest expansion of our clinical services, enabling members to benefit from a holistic approach to care, delivered virtually, in their time of need,” Daniel Trencher, SVP of product and strategy at Teladoc Health, said in a statement. “An abundance of data shows the value of a tailored nutrition plan to improving outcomes for chronic and acute health conditions, and we’ve heard overwhelmingly from clients the benefits they see in this new service.”

After signing up and completing a questionnaire on their history, goals and meal planning concerns, plan members using the Teladoc Nutrition program will be connected to a registered dietitian for their state via a phone or video call, according to Teladoc. From this conversation, those members will be provided with a personalized program that includes nutritional guidance, meal plans and other materials such as a shopping guide. The program aims to support long-term nutrition management, allowing members to initiate follow-up conversations with their registered dietitian, or if necessary switch to another dietitian with a different specialty.

Teladoc’s purchase also provided the company with TelaDietitian’s existing technology platform and the rest of its IP and business materials. However, MobiHealthNews has learned that the telehealth company decided to build the new program from scratch for easier implementation, rather than use the acquired technology.

WHY IT MATTERS

Poor nutrition is a major contributor to obesity, heart disease, diabetes and numerous other costly medical conditions. A nutritional support program like this is a logical companion to Teladoc’s other enterprise health offerings.

In addition, this acquisition and program launch means that TelaDietitian’s virtual nutrition counseling services now have the opportunity to reach a broader pool of customers.

In its pitch, Teladoc also referenced published data suggesting that a telehealth approach to weight loss and nutrition programs could cut down program failure and drop out rates. Another study published last year found similar success through an approach that used American Well’s video conferencing app.

THE LARGER TREND

TelaDietitian got its start as Nutrify, a digital diet planning tool that allows hospitals to develop diets that take a patient’s disease and medications into consideration. The platform was named to digital health accelerator StartUp Health’s portfolio back in 2014, as well as the 2015 class of the New York Digital Health Accelerator.

Teladoc Health has enjoyed rising revenues over the course of 2019, according to its quarterly earnings reports, although it did undergo some noteworthy shakeups at the executive level in the wake of former VP, COO and CFO Mark Hirschhorn’s resignation. The past year or so has also seen the company make a handful of higher-profile acquisitions focused on expanding its international reach. These purchases included Best DoctorsAdvance Medical and MédecinDirect.

ON THE RECORD

“The Teladoc Nutrition program delivers members added value in their healthcare journey with its ease of access and unprecedented nutrition deliverables,” Elnahar said in a statement. “In addition to the opportunity to ask [registered dietitians] questions regarding diet and nutrition for a specific condition, members get curated content including a personalized nutrition guide, meal planning, and more, empowering them with science-based nutritional guidance that is designed for their unique health needs.”

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