I think we all knew that mergers and acquisitions in the telehealth space we’re coming. You can’t have this many telehealth companies in such a hot space and not see a lot of activity in this regard. However, I’m not sure many of us thought that it would start with such a mega merger of two of the hottest telehealth companies in the space: Teladoc Health and Livongo, but that’s what’s happened. Teladoc Health and Livongo have announced plans to merge the companies in what amounts to a $18.5 billion deal.
This is going to be an interesting merger to watch on a number of fronts. No doubt it makes them the largest, most dominant players in the telehealth space. It also offers the full breadth of telehealth options from live video telehealth, specialty specific telehealth, direct to consumer telehealth, remote patient monitoring, and more, but we’re also going to see how important it is that one company has all of those options under one roof. Will that be important the way it was important that Epic and Cerner had all of their features and functionality in one company (Financial, EHR, Lab, Pharmacy, etc) or are these different spaces and it will cause the merged company to lack direction and focus?
Plus, it’s interesting that the telehealth space has exploded, but we’re now entering the phase where telehealth is going to regress. How far live video telehealth visits regresses remains to be seen, but no one is predicting anything but a regression as in-person visits return. Add this on to the fact that remote patient monitoring (RPM) efforts really haven’t exploded in this environment the same way live video visits has exploded. Most people see the potential of RPM, but unless we can really moved to a value based reimbursement system, I think we’ll continue to see slow growth in the RPM space.
What’s also fascinating about this deal is that it’s starting to look a lot like Glen Tullman’s previous company Allscripts. Roll up a bunch of companies in the space into one mega company. I’m interested to see if this trend will continue as the combined companies roll up other major telehealth companies. That seems like where this is headed, but it is interesting that Jason Gorevic will be CEO of the merged companies and the Teladoc Chairman will remain as well. Both Tullman and Gorevic were interviewed on CNBC if you want to get their perspective on the deal:
In the interview, Gorevic said that Teladoc’s predicting 10 million visits this year to give a perspective on their growth and the growth of telemedicine. He also observed that he thinks COVID-19 has accelerated telehealth adoption by at least 3 years.
What’s even more clear from the interview is that the biggest reason for the merger was that both companies realized that they were either going to merge or start competing with each other. Both companies seemed to think that they’d be more successful as a combined company than merging with each other. Unlike many mergers of competitors, now is a good time for them to merge because as it stands today they aren’t massive competitors with each other and there’s not the same venom that often exists between competitors. This is a merger of potential future competitors, not existing competitors.
Going to be fun to watch this new merged company. I predict that the Teladoc brand will win out over the Livongo brand. Plus, I think there’s going to be some really interesting questions for Teladoc customers. I’m not sure that most of them will see this is a good thing for their telehealth efforts, but we’ll see how the market responds.