- Doctor on Demand is expanding its platform to Medicare Part B beneficiaries, making it the first telehealth vendor to dive into the program serving 33 million Americans for medical care and doctor visits.
- The San Francisco-based virtual care vendor will now offer healthcare, including COVID-19 testing and diagnosis, to Part B beneficiaries, it said Wednesday.
- It's a previously untapped market for telehealth made attainable by the Trump administration's March expansion of coverage in traditional fee-for-service Medicare as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Doctor On Demand, which sells services through employers, payers, directly to consumers and now through Medicare Part B, is capitalizing on skyrocketing demand for virtual care as the pandemic continues to keep patients cloistered in their homes. The vendor saw utilization surge in March and April to roughly three times above normal volumes, in line with the growth seen by rivals like Teladoc and AmWell.
However, Doctor On Demand is the first major virtual care vendor to move into the massive Medicare Part B program, which covers outpatient care for Americans over the age of 65 — a demographic at high risk for serious complications from COVID-19. Doctor on Demand said it experienced rapid adoption of virtual care within the population, with patient registrations in the 65 and up group growing nearly 150% in March.
"We have served the 65+ population on our platform for years even prior to Medicare coverage so we knew that there was a market opportunity," Robin Glass, president of Doctor on Demand, told Healthcare Dive, though "we anticipate that there will be an adoption curve for seniors."
Before the pandemic, telehealth use in Part B was heavily restricted to specific locations and circumstances, curtailing adoption of virtual care. However, CMS in March declared Medicare would reimburse telehealth visits at the same rate as in-person visits, and rolled back a slew of other regulations expanding telehealth availability and use cases.
The changes are temporary, though there's been a wave of advocacy from health IT players and providers depending on the service to recoup revenue to keep the regulatory changes post-pandemic. Doctor on Demand's announcement on Wednesday signals significant investment in Medicare — the vendor credentialed its fleet of employed doctors and set up extensive back-end billing and insurance capabilities, among other steps — along with the industry's hope the program's doors won't once again slam shut after the national emergency is lifted.
Doctor on Demand, which has raised more than $160 million from investors to date, employs hundreds of doctors, psychiatrists and therapists following an aggressive recruiting push earlier this year to meet patient demand. The vendor inked a pact last month with the state of Massachusetts to provide free telehealth visits to its Medicaid and uninsured citizens during the pandemic.
Though it's the first big telemedicine player to move into Part B, it's unlikely to be the last, with provider MDLIVE also hinting interest in the space.