With 89% revenue growth in 2017, Teladoc looks to deepen partnerships with large insurers

Teladoc reported a significant boost in revenue, membership and visits in 2017, riding a devastating flu season that the company says has driven patients to virtual care. 

The company said it is also in discussions with several of the nation’s large insurers that have expressed a growing interest in integrating virtual care for their members.

“I've been struck by the number of large health plans engaging with us to explore comprehensive enterprisewide virtual care strategies,” Teladoc CEO Jason Gorevic said in an earnings call on Tuesday.

The company reported $77.1 million in fourth-quarter revenue, a 106% increase over same period in 2016. Overall, 2017 revenue increased 89% over the previous year, reaching $233.3 million, according to year-end financials filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. 

Paid membership grew 33% to 23.2 million and visits reached 1.46 million, a 54% increase from 2016. Still, the company took on more than $30 million in net losses compared to 2016, including $44.4 million in the fourth quarter alone.

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Those figures come on the heels of a historic flu season that has been a boon not just for Teladoc's membership, but broader awareness of telemedicine. In January, more than 50% of visits were new, according Gorevic. That’s a critical figure for the company since members that use telehealth for the first time are more likely to return in the same calendar year, he added. 

“We’ve never been more excited about our trajectory,” he said.

Meanwhile, changes to federal payment regulations are expected to be a tailwind for the entire industry. The Bipartisan Budget Act that passed last month expands telehealth coverage for Medicare Advantage plans beginning in 2020. The bill also expands coverage for ACOs, remote monitoring for certain chronic diseases and telestroke.

That legislation is likely to pay off in the long term, but for now, Teladoc is looking to capitalize on a payer market that is increasingly interested in integrating telehealth services. Gorevic said the ongoing discussions are driven not by federal legislation, but a burgeoning interest to make telehealth a strategic priority.

“[That’s] really a sea change from where we were a year or even two years ago,” he said.

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Teladoc already has already partnered with Aetna and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, and officials said both of those arrangements have performed beyond expectations. Now insurers are seeking out a more collaborative relationship with the company.

“The discussions are all over the board in terms of what those financial relationships look like,” Gorevic said. “I would say they are uniformity larger opportunities than we’ve seen in in the past.”