Telemedicine / Telehealth Stocks - (OTCPINK: $GTCH) (NYSE: $TDOC) (NYSE: $HUM) (TSXV: $DOC.V) (NasdaqGS: $LVGO) show how COVID-19 and future pandemics are fuelling the need for Telemedicine
COVID-19 and the Accelerating Rise of Telemedicine
Point Roberts, WA and Delta, BC - September 28, 2020 (Investorideas.com Newswire) Investorideas.com, a global news source and leading retail investor and trader resource issues a sector snapshot looking at the growing telemedicine market and participating public companies rising to meet the needs of innovation in healthcare, including GBT Technologies Inc. (OTCPINK:GTCH).
Telemedicine - the practice of providing or distributing healthcare-related services and information remotely, through digital and telecommunications technology means - is one of the fortunate industries to have risen in significance during the COVID-19 pandemic. The reasons for this are perhaps not difficult to guess. The prominence of social distancing guidelines and more particularly, the widespread policy (or advocacy for) quarantining has made traditional visits to clinics and hospitals more difficult. And in the months since the COVID-19 outbreak, this has been exacerbated at times by the delaying and postponing of non-emergent care. Naturally, this has led to the benefits of telemedicine, such as the ability to long-distant diagnose, inform, and monitor patients, making it even more relevant during this pandemic.
This is not to give the impression however, that telemedicine would not have become a consequential market regardless of a crisis like COVID-19. According to a report published before COVID-19, from Fortune Business Insights, the global market for telemedicine was valued at USD $34.28 billion in 2018, and is projected to reach USD $185.66 billion by 2026, making for a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23.5 percent in the forecast period (2019-2026). But similar to other markets, like digital retail, telemedicine was already gaining traction and was well-positioned to meet the increasing demand brought on by the virus.
Like many emerging industries, the telemedicine space is seeing the surfacing of a panoply of different solutions. This is exemplified by qTerm, an AI-powered human vitals device from GBT Technologies Inc. (OTCPINK:GTCH) and its Joint Venture GBT Tokenize Corp. According to a recent press release, the qTerm device "is targeted to measure body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate - all with a simple touch of the finger." The device is deliberately small, able to be "be easily attached to a smart phone," and coupled with an app, stores "a history for the user's records and provide numerical and statistical data about the user's body temperature." This is enhanced further, as the devices AI anonymously and securely collects the user data, constructing a global 'thermal map' to alert about potential health risks proximities.
"This is the key highlight of the device," said Danny Rittman, CTO of GBT Technologies Inc. in a recent interview about qTerm. "Every person is going to be put on the world map for the benefit of the community."
In a recent interview with Capital Market Laboratories (CMLviz), Livongo Health, Inc. (NasdaqGS:LVGO) CEO, Zane M. Burke affirmed this, saying: "before the COVID, we had a ton of momentum." But Burke also explained that, with the pandemic, people caught on to the advantages in the technology:
"...what occurred here is really everybody recognized first, the value of tele-health."
"The second part of this is remote patient monitoring became really meaningful, both from a regulatory and reimbursement perspective, as well as sort of people waking up to hey, the future of healthcare is going to be consumer directed virtual care."
More recently, Livongo and telemedicine giant Teladoc Health, Inc. (NYSE:TDOC) filed a definitive proxy statement and prospectus with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) with regard to a proposed merger of the two firms. According to the press release, the two companies plan to "provide a consumer centered virtual care platform for the full spectrum of health needs, creating a new standard in global healthcare delivery, access and an improved consumer experience."
Another approach is that of healthcare and well-being firm Humana Inc. (NYSE:HUM) which recently announced an expanded relationship with tech-enabled health services company, Seniorlink, Inc. The collaboration will see Humana leverage Seniorlink's digital care collaboration platform Vela, to support its vulnerable, high risk members by "increasing the overall engagement and reducing barriers to contact between members and care managers." Tom Riley, President and CEO of Seniorlink, said:
"The COVID-19 crisis has prompted the healthcare industry to re-imagine care delivery for our country's most vulnerable. By leveraging Vela, more of Humana's high-risk members will have access to their integrated care team in one platform. This is particularly advantageous at a time when many members want to access care from home."
In addition to the various approaches employed to contend with COVID-19, the space has seen individual firms enjoy massive growth in the wake of the pandemic. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) based health technology solutions provider CloudMD Software & Services Inc. (TSXV:DOC) recently reported a year-over-year total revenue increase from Q2 2019 to Q2 2020. Notably, the company saw "gross margins of 42% due to higher margin verticals and increase in telehealth usage," according to the press release. The company's CEO, Essam Hamza, in discussing his own firm's success amidst the pandemic, provided a microcosm of the wider market:
"We are currently in the worst public health crisis of our lifetime and as a front line physician for over 20 years I acutely understand the toll it is taking on our healthcare system and the importance of access to quality health care. Our CloudMD platform is well equipped to increase access through the availability of our seamless virtual care solutions that allow patients to access quality health care from anywhere."
Telemedicine's utility extends beyond the current pandemic, as demonstrated by the pre-COVID projections in the aforementioned research published by Fortune Business Insights. In fact, an article published by the International Journal of Health Policy and Management (IJHPM), titled: Climate Change and Telemedicine: A Prospective View, argues that it can be beneficial in the context of climate crisis as well. This is not only manifested in its application in treating climate change's many effects on public health as outlined by the CDC, but the IJHPM article points out the reduction of unnecessary travel and its resulting emissions that adopting telemedicine would achieve. An excerpt reads:
In another study, conducted in Canada, a wide range of healthcare services were provided in the form of teleconsultation and as a result road trips were reduced by 757 234 km, and transport vehicle carbon dioxide emissions were reduced by 185 tons.
Similar to the transformation in the retail sector toward digital technology, the long-distance interactions that telemedicine facilitates already showed tremendous promise, but the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated its growth and seems to have assured its endurance.
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