The longtime CEO of Teladoc discusses the company's deal with Amazon and providing telehealth services via Alexa in this first part of a three-part article series.
First of three parts
Jason Gorevic has been CEO of Teladoc Health ($TDOC) since 2009, so he oversaw the company before it went public in 2015 and well before the COVID-19 pandemic fueled a large increase in telehealth use. The company’s stock price soared to above $290 per share in February 2021 as telehealth finally caught on, but it has fallen sharply since. Today it was trading at $68.85 per share.
In a recent interview with Managed Healthcare Executive® Managing Editor Peter Wehrwein, Gorevic discussed a wide range of issues, including the company’s deal with Amazon to provide telehealth services through Amazon’s smartspeaker technology, Alexa; its ambitions to increase per-participant revenues by 27-fold by providing “whole person virtual care”; and whether Teladoc is a threat to primary care and bricks-and-mortar healthcare system.
Before Teladoc, Gorevic had considerable experience working for insurers. He started his healthcare career at Oxford Health Plans where, according to his LinkedIn page, Gorevic “designed, built and managed a first-of-its-kind telephone medical advice service staffed by registered rurses to ensure appropriate utilization of health care resources.”
Note: This transcript has been edited for clarity.
Let’s talk about the recent news that where you are working with Amazon and have become the telehealth service available through Alexa. Do you have any you have any projections or expectations on the use of Teladoc through Alexa. And I'm curious whether you foresee this as being a major line of business for you, whether you are contracting with new providers to support that service. How big a deal is this?
Well, we're excited about the partnership with Amazon around Alexa. But it's not the first of our innovation areas that improves access to care. We have a partnership with Microsoft, where we partner with them for those provider clients especially to use the Microsoft platforms to build in our technology into their workflows. We partner with Telefónica in Brazil and in Spain in order to bring access to care through their mobile devices. And now, of course, we're partnering with Amazon to bring care to consumers who choose to use voice-activated devices in their homes. Our mission has always been to provide better, easier, more convenient access to high quality care, and this is a great example of doing that.
We haven't released any projections around the volume that we expect through it. And of course, insofar as it's a partnership, it requires both parties to come together to decide to do that. So I won't even make any promises about whether we'll do that in the future.
What I can say is that, I think it's an indication, given Amazon’s scale, of their confidence in us. And really, I think there's only one player who could really handle that kind of scale and deliver the kind of quality and reliability that we do.
Even if you can't get into projections and revenues and so on, have you had to ramp up the number of physicians and other sorts of providers in anticipation of [use of Teladoc services] through Alexa? Have you had add either employees or contractors?
You know, we do a lot of capacity planning, and obviously, with the recent omicron wave of COVID-19, we saw a tremendous spike, and so we added capacity for that. So we feel good about where we are. We don't feel like we have to make significant investments in order to handle the Amazon volume, and, of course, we always adjust and continue to date our forecasts for volume.
I listened to an interview you did a few weeks ago where you mentioned that you that big tech’s track record in health care was rather unimpressive. I don't have the exact quote. But basically you said it just hasn't made as big a dent as perhaps people expected. I think you referenced Google in particular. Given that you're now working with Amazon, might Amazon be an exception to that rule?
Big tech does what big tech does well. Google provides great navigation and search. Amazon provides great convenience and immediate access to goods and services. Apple builds great devices. Microsoft builds great communication and workflow tools.
And so I think big tech contributes the most when they stick to their focus of what they do really well, just like we stick to our focus of doing what we do well, which is delivering great healthcare in a high quality, easy-to-access environment that takes care of the whole person. So I think you'll continue to see partnerships where we leverage the respective assets and capabilities of the two organizations in order to bring a better experience to the consumer.
I think what I what I also generally say is that healthcare isn't a part-time job. It’s complicated. It's a complicated system. It is a multistakeholder environment. And it takes people who focus on healthcare all the time in order to navigate and make that work as well as possible for the consumer and the provider.
Not to dwell on Amazon too much, but are you in discussions with Amazon about its healthcare initiative, Amazon Care? Might you partner with Amazon Care some sort of way?
We haven't discussed anything like that publicly. And, obviously, I can't go beyond what we've said publicly. We're focused on the Alexa rollout. We'll continue to expand features and capabilities of that and see where it goes.