Teladoc's virtual visits nearly double in Q1, revenue reaches $181M amid COVID response

Virtual care providers continue to be a bright spot in the struggling economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Case in point: Teladoc, one of nation's top telehealth providers, saw its first-quarter 2020 revenue jump 41% to $181 million year over year.

As cases of coronavirus surged in March and fears about COVID-19 increased, Teladoc saw a massive uptick in virtual visits, with total visits up 92% to 2 million during the first three months of the year. Teladoc's first-quarter revenue beat Wall Street estimates of $180.6 million in the first quarter.

The Purchase, New York-based company raised its forward guidance for full-year 2020.

Teladoc expects 2020 revenue between $800 million and $825 million, which represents between 45% and 49% growth over the prior year, Chief Financial Officer Mala Murthy said during the company's first-quarter earnings call Wednesday.

The company also is projecting total virtual visits in 2020 to reach between 8 million and 9 million, which would double the 4.1 million virtual visits the company provided in 2019.

As health plans end temporary waivers on co-pays for telehealth visits and shelter-in-place orders are lifted, Teladoc expects the surge in visit volume to moderate in the back half of the year, Murthy said.

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"We do anticipate visit volume will persist at a permanently higher level than prior to the COVID outbreak," she said.

Teladoc CEO Jason Gorevic said during the call that the COVID-19 outbreak made a notable shift in consumer awareness and adoption of telehealth.

Physicians and hospitals also are embracing telehealth, he noted.

"What had been reluctance in some places has moved to vigorously embracing virtual care. In some cases, it was out of necessity. But what we're seeing is tremendously high satisfaction rates among physicians who are engaging in virtual care," he said.

Health plans and employers are looking to use virtual care for their members and employees broadly across all medical specialties, Gorevic said, noting those shifts will drive business opportunities for the company.

"If I look out five years, I would say that virtual care will be ubiquitous. It will be just another methodology of how people access care. That opens up tremendous opportunities for us to deliver that care and using technology to enable that care for providers in the market," he said.

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The company's financial projections for full-year 2020 do not include an incremental increase in volume due to a possible resurgence of the coronavirus later in the year, Gorevic said.

If the virus returns in the fall in conjunction with a typical flu season, Teladoc's virtual visit volume could be higher than expected, and that would boost revenue growth, he said.

More details on Q1 financial performance

Teladoc reported U.S. paid membership in the first quarter totaled 43 million users, up 61% from 27 million users in the same quarter in 2019. 

The number of members in the U.S. with visit-fee-only access rose 89% from 10 million members in the first quarter of 2019 to 19 million members in the first quarter of 2020.

Out of its $181 million quarterly revenue, subscription access fees revenue came to $137 million, up 29% from the first quarter in 2019, while total visit-fee revenue reached $44 million, up 93% from the same period in 2019.

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The company has yet to turn a profit and still has sizable net losses—$98.9 million for the full year in 2019, which grew from a net loss of $97.1 million in 2018. Net loss per share was $1.38 for full-year 2019 compared to $1.47 for full-year 2018.

The company's net loss for the quarter was $29.6 million, down slightly from $30 million in the first quarter of 2019. Net loss per share for the quarter was 40 cents compared to 43 cents in the first quarter of 2019. That missed Street estimates of a net loss per share of 35 cents for the quarter.

Murthy said the company expected second-quarter 2020 revenue between $215 million and $225 million. That represents growth between 65% to 73% compared to the same period in 2019.

The company also expects strong growth in its virtual visits in the second quarter, projected to reach between 2.3 million and 2.4 million.

Teladoc is projecting total U.S. paid membership to be approximately 49 million to 50 million members and visit-fee-only access to be available to approximately 21 million to 22 million individuals, including the addition of 2 million to 3 million members on a temporary basis.