Teladoc: Sinking stock?

I usually don’t cover the business aspect of companies (and start-ups) here, but this was compelling news. Teladoc is a company focused on providing Telemedicine.

Why Teladoc’s stock is on life support – The Hustle

Teladoc Health, a leader in telemedicine, probably wishes it could phone in the rest of 2022. Its stock tanked 40% last week, now down 80%+ from 2021. In 2020, Teladoc bought Livongo, a platform for managing chronic conditions, as an opportunity to expand its offerings amid a boom in virtual care. The deal was valued at $18.5B, netting Teladoc $12.9B in goodwill.

Rest of the article describes what “goodwill” is. However, telemedicine needs to be understood in context. There are issues in connectivity, end-device support, costs involved in running a proprietary platform with “HIPAA-compliance”, mimicking a “physical waiting room” and billing (including reimbursements). The promise of telemedicine to address “rural communities” by linking with the “experts in the cities” is a tired pitch, but still draws teary eyed investors. Its like flying drones in Rwanda, because the permissions from a municipal body in “silicon valley” isn’t forthcoming.

I have seen numerous articles on using SMS for healthcare delivery; notably maternal health. I am not sure if the users understand it’s importance. If the SMS is being sent for “free”, how much importance will the end user accord to it? On average, I get bombarded with numerous SMS’s throughout the day, making it impossible to track anything worthwhile. Notification spam is getting a major issue with distracting attention – much like the wastage of advertisements plastered on the web-pages.

Telemedicine requires more “research” in making it useful. Unfortunately, my attempts to get a co-authorship (and PhD) on these lines failed to generate traction. The bare bones infrastructure (asymmetric broadband, illogical municipal rules around right of way, high spectrum charges and last mile fibre) are problems staring at the face. Pandemic or no-pandemic, it requires a serious interdisciplinary approach from both policy and polity levels.

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