MDLive banks $50M equity investment to scale up telehealth services

On the heels of Teladoc's blockbuster deal and Amwell's planned initial public offering, MDLive also is riding the wave of investor interest in virtual care.

The telehealth company closed a $50 million crossover equity investment led by Sixth Street Growth, the growth investing arm of global firm Sixth Street. In a separate deal, MDLive also raised $25 million in debt expansion from other investors.

The $50 million funding will be used primarily for the ongoing strategic expansion of the telehealth company's virtual primary care digital health platform, MDLive said. The company also will be launching supporting products and services for its 45 million members.

The company, which launched in 2009, has raised $174 million to date, according to Crunchbase. MDLive's existing investors include Cigna Ventures, Health Care Service Corporation, Health Velocity Capital, Novo Holdings, Industry Ventures, Sentara Healthcare, Sutter Health, Heritage Group and Bedford Funding.

The company's growth has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Following five consecutive years of over 45% visit growth, in the first half of 2020, MDLive's virtual visits grew by more than 95%. Total bookings were up by more than 300% in the first half of the year, the company reported.

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There has been rising demand for behavioral health virtual visits, up more than 500%, MDLive said. Dermatology virtual visits increased 350%, and medical care visits grew 80%.

The company also added more providers to its network, now totaling over 2,000 clinicians. Despite the surge in visit volume, MDLive's wait times for healthcare visits have remained under 20 minutes and averaged only 7.7 minutes in July.        

"As the demand for MDLive's offerings has reached all-time highs, we remain focused on the expansion of a single, proven technology platform with the flexibility to integrate with devices and the capacity to leverage AI and ingest vast volumes of data necessary for proactive and preemptive care," said Charles Jones, MDLive's chairman and CEO.

MDLive's platform has the potential to reduce the cost of care by helping patients access care earlier and directing them to cost-effective providers and laboratory services, according to Jones.

As the U.S. physician shortage continues to grow and the large baby boomer population ages and puts pressure on the healthcare system, telehealth companies are helping to meet the demand for healthcare services, Jones said.

RELATED: Telehealth leader Teladoc to buy Livongo in $18.5B deal

MDLive also will focus on improving the experience for providers with technology capabilities to automate certain tasks and the use of artificial intelligence to give clinicians real-time information at the point of care.

The new financing comes as MDLive is looking to go public in early 2021, according to Stat.

Jones didn't comment on the company's plans planned IPO, but he did raise the possibility of acquisition opportunities in the future.

"This is a robust time to build out our company with technologies and opportunities may arise to do acquisitions," he said.

Following Teladoc's move to acquire Livongo for $18.5 billion, Jones said he anticipates more consolidation in the virtual care market to provide what he called "total healthcare."

RELATED: Telehealth company Amwell looks to raise up to $560M in IPO amid virtual care boom

"We organically built one platform and scaled it. We will add things on to the future, but not adding other people’s platforms, rather adding specialties and practice areas to create a unified open system platform," Jones said.

While some data suggest that telehealth visits are declining after hitting peaks in April during the COVID-19 pandemic, Jones said MDLive's virtual visits continue to grow. He anticipates organic business growth of more than 50% this year.

Health systems, hospitals and medical practices are continuing to add virtual care services, according to Jones.

"This is a stage of exploration and experimentation right now to find out what works for them. Digital technology is not about telehealth visits but total healthcare delivery and a disruptive new model," he said.

Virtual care has been a long-term theme for Sixth Street Growth's investments and MDLive continues to grow to meet the demand for remote care services.

"In an increasingly competitive sector, MDLive stands out as a scaled and differentiated enterprise technology platform providing high-quality, convenient and cost-effective care," said Michael McGinn, partner and co-head of Sixth Street Growth, in a statement.