- Virtual health adoption is accelerating among both providers and consumers — especially among those that pushed back on the model just months prior, SVB Leerink analysts wrote after speaking with management teams from Teladoc Health, Health Catalyst and Livongo Health.
- While regulatory relief in the form of relaxed state-lines rules and expanded telehealth reimbursement for Medicare have made the services more accessible, speakers said they don't expect the emergency measures to remain in place post COVID-19, but are optimistic about the potential for a more favorable regulatory environment.
- Behavioral health services are one of the fastest growing segments within virtual care, panelists said, and those tailwinds are unlikely to abate post pandemic given the significant traction the segment already saw prior to the crisis.
Federal and state government actions to lower regulatory barriers to telehealth mean the services are more widely used, though it's unclear whether widespread demand will persist if regulations are eventually reinstated.
"While measures such as waiving HIPAA requirements for health tech solutions could make for a more crowded competitive environment in our coverage universe, we view it as highly unlikely this emergency measure could persist post the pandemic," the SVB Leerink analysts wrote in its report.
However, CMS Administrator Seema Verma did not rule out the possibility when talking to reporters Wednesday. The agency plans to evaluate the idea more fully after the crisis subsides, she said.
Teladoc said it has been onboarding thousands of physicians in a matter of days compared to the several months it would have taken before the pandemic. The company's stock has climbed almost 90% since the end of 2019. Teladoc executives said Tuesday they expect revenue for the first quarter of this year to be up 40% year over year with a more than 70% increase in visits.
Driven by a new normal of social distancing and lack of certainty for the future, remote behavioral health services are in especially high demand, speakers said, so much so that panelists noted some of their provider clients are considering moving behavioral health to a virtual-only offering.
SVB Leerink analysts said they view Teladoc and chronic disease management company Livongo "as the best positioned public companies to benefit from COVID-driven virtual care adoption, both on the provider-facing side as well as with their core consumer-centric solutions."
Another bright spot for health IT companies is increasing provider demand for certain analytics products during the pandemic. Panelists highlighted health systems' needs for real-time data, along with products to transfer information between the public and private sectors.
Data analytics firm Health Catalyst said hospitals are using its services to help make resource allocation decisions based on predictive modelings of ventilator, ICU bed and staff capacities.
Hospitals will have a heightened need for data analytics to help with post-COVID resource allocation decisions, such as when to allow elective surgeries again and as well as what types of surgeries will be allowed, the company's executives said.