Yesterday I received my second Moderna vaccine shot. Everything was fine, I felt great, even asked my husband to go out for a drink after work. In the evening I started shivering, got fever and fell asleep, only to wake up in the middle of the night, shivering some more despite the four blankets I had to cover me. I was partially prepared, I had read about the possibilities of these side effects, especially after the second shot, but I was not expecting to feel that bad.
To get some reassurance, in the morning I called my telemedicine provider and explained the symptoms. I was told that they are only side effects of the vaccine and that in 24 to 48 hours they will disappear. I’m still waiting on that.
While telemedicine has existed for more than a century, the practice has only picked up really in the last few years. 2020 in particular was a year of strong growth for telemedicine: as doctors and hospitals were focusing on COVID-19 patients, the treatment for other, not-urgent illnesses was delayed, to minimize the risk of COVID-19 contagion. Tele-triaging, the practice of pre-screening potentially infected patients, became also increasingly popular, as it allowed to reduce the number of in-person visits, thus reducing the burden on doctors and hospitals. Tele-monitoring was then used to check on patients.
Another aspect of telehealth that grew dramatically in 2020 is telemental health. According to an article published by The Lancet, a psychiatry publication, in January 2021, the number of remote counselling sessions rose by 556% during the first 6 weeks of the pandemic in the US, one third of which were for first time users.
In the US, the biggest players in the telemedicine space are a various: Teladoc, MeMD, MDLIVE, DoctorOnDemand, Amwell, but the top telemedicine company is Teladoc. The company was founded in 2002 and it provides 24-hour, on-demand remote healthcare. It also offers remote patient monitoring programs for chronic care management. The company has by far the largest and most scalable platform, offering an integrated healthcare service to their clients. Given the scalability and the holistic offering the company is the partners of choice for many employers in the US: more than 50% of Fortune 500 employers, offer our virtual care services to their employees.
In November 2020, Teladoc acquired Livongo, a digital disease management company that focuses on diabetes management programs, high blood pressure management programs and behavioural health. The acquisition can be extremely positive for Teladoc growth, with the possibility for the company to cross sell and expand their user base.
Ultimately, the growth prospects for the overall sectors will depend on how much after telehealth will continued to be used after the pandemic, however the convenience and the affordability of this solution makes it appealing in the long run.
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