Telehealth service provider Teladoc announced that it is experiencing unprecedented daily visit volume in the United States as the novel coronavirus continues to spread globally.
This week, patient visit volume spiked 50 percent over the prior week and continues to rise. The company had been handling visit demand consistent with peak flu volumes, but then it saw that number accelerate to as much as 15,000 visits requested per day. Teladoc Health has provided approximately 100,000 virtual medical visits to patients in the United States in the past week, helping to alleviate pressure on the broader health care system.
“We are seeing more patients and more of those patients are experiencing upper respiratory issues,” Lew Levy, MD, chief medical officer at Teladoc Health, said in a statement. “As we saw during the flu epidemic of 2018, a community’s healthcare system can become overwhelmed and virtual care can help provide needed relief. We have the unique ability to immediately connect with the CDC and other government agencies, to add the right screening tools and clinical quality protocols to our system, and most importantly, to keep patients — particularly those most at risk with underlying health conditions — out of care settings where they can face exposure.”
The demand for virtual care visits has accelerated as several health plans have waived consumer cost-sharing and public health officials at all levels of government have encouraged the public to take advantage of virtual care services. These actions have driven many people to use telemedicine for the first time, with more than half of all the Teladoc Health visits this month being from first time users.
Individuals can find out if they are a Teladoc member who can benefit from virtual care by visiting teladoc.com/start.
UPDATE: In the related news, Blue Shield of California has decided to waive out-of-pocket costs for most of its members to use Teladoc Health’s virtual care service.
Copays and co-insurance for any Teladoc Health visits will be waived for members enrolled in all of Blue Shield’s commercial plans until May 31, including Individual & Family and employer-sponsored plans that offer Teladoc.
Members enrolled in Blue Shield’s Trio, Tandem and Medicare Advantage plans, plus Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan beneficiaries, already enjoy $0 out-of-pocket costs for Teladoc Health services.