As part of its landmark $18.5 billion deal to buy Livongo, telehealth giant Teladoc Health is poised to inherit a set of devices that the chronic care company has used for years to turn mountains of patient data into easily digestible health advice.
The technology — which includes connected blood pressure cuffs, glucose monitors, and weight scales — will be a key asset for the newly combined company, which will be called Teladoc. Not only does the trove of devices better position Teladoc to deliver chronic care, it also tees up the company to fully enter the remote monitoring space.
Remote monitoring has become a hot spot for the booming virtual heath business, driven simultaneously by a global pandemic that has impeded access to physical clinics and a growing class of patient-consumers that want more control over their care. Health tech companies focused on remote monitoring have raised millions in recent months, while large hospital systems are flocking to the devices as a means of protecting clinicians and patients from Covid-19.
The tools offer another boon to Teladoc: They don’t require clinicians. Instead, the devices rely on a network of health professionals — including registered dietitians and certified diabetes educators — who are charged with translating the data generated by the devices into insights patients can act on. Prior to its deal with Livongo, the bulk of professionals Teladoc contracted with were physicians. Now, industry experts say the company can expand more rapidly by opening up its ranks to a broader range of workers.
“It makes health care more scalable and brings down the cost of managing patients — we’re not looking at paying physician salaries, but coach salaries,” said Arielle Trzcinski, senior health care and technology analyst at Forrester.
The deal enables Teladoc to offer what Chief Operating Officer David Sides calls “a new stepped care model” that starts with digital coaching and escalates to connecting patients with clinicians “when necessary.”
Livongo is one of a handful of prominent players in the industry harnessing connected devices to deliver health insights. Other diabetes-focused virtual care companies including Omada Health and Onduo similarly collect reams of data on patient behavior. Both companies use artificial intelligence to ping patients with health reminders and flag those who need additional support. If a patient’s blood glucose readings are consistently high late at night, for example, a health coach might reach out to that patient to suggest making a smaller dinner or balancing a meal with fewer carbs and more lean proteins.
Both companies make money by contracting with employers and health plans, which see the disease management platforms as a potential way to lower health spending in the long run.
Original Article: (https://www.statnews.com/2020/08/11/livongo-devices-teladoc-remote-monitoring/)