Teladoc expands its global presence with a new $352mn acquisition
Established in 2002, the company houses ov...
US telehealth company Teladoc has set its eyes on global expansion by acquiring Advance Medical for $352mn.
Established in 2002, the company houses over 3,000 medical professionals with an average of 20 years’ experience, where its 20,000+ members can gain access to essential health information, anytime, anywhere, providing convenient, positive patient outcomes and added value.
It follows on from Teladoc’s acquisition of virtual medical consultation company Best Doctors for $375mn.
With high levels of patient satisfaction, Teladoc’s international footprint and ability to offer an expanded set of clinical services worldwide will enable the business to create a worldwide, comprehensive virtual care platform capable of serving companies and people everywhere.
Teladoc have witnessed exponential growth, with revenue rising by close to 90% in 2017, whilst its membership figures continue to rise.
With the addition of Advance Medical, Teladoc builds on its successful track record of acquiring and integrating companies and gaining access to new markets through insurers spanning Europe, the US, Asia and Latin America.
Combining Advance Medical’s suite of international clinical capabilities with Teladoc’s technology and operational scale, the company can meet the needs of US multinational employers, for whom one third of all employees live abroad.
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“Today we bring together two companies who, by consistently putting the consumer first, have proven the transformative power of offering full-spectrum virtual care solutions,” said Jason Gorevic, CEO, Teladoc.
“This acquisition advances our strategy to continually expand our product portfolio, as well as our operational footprint in attractive global markets.”
As countries around the world face escalating healthcare cost and access challenges, Teladoc will meet the most pressing care needs of members outside the US and expand its total market opportunity in markets such as Latin America and Asia, where private health insurance growth rates are more than double that of the US. Teladoc is also positioned to further accelerate the global adoption of virtual care.
“We share Teladoc’s belief that a virtual care solution should be comprehensive in nature and provide answers and outcomes for people regardless of their location or medical condition,” commented Carlos Nueno, co-founder, Advance Medical. “Our clients have increasingly demanded high-quality virtual care at scale, and now we have the ability to bring this meaningful change to the healthcare system.”
“With the ability to harness the rapid pace of medical innovation, deliver an unsurpassed commitment to clinical quality, and maintain our unwavering patient-centric vision, there is no doubt we will have a profound consumer impact as we continue to expand access to high quality care,” added Marc Subirats, co-founder, Advance Medical.
Mr. Nueno and Mr. Subirats will join the Teladoc executive team, continuing to lead the Advance Medical business outside the U.S.
Long haul Covid, the brain and digital therapies
It is estimated that around 10% of people who get Covid-19 develop long haul Covid, a debilitating condition that can last many months and cause breathlessness, exhaustion and pain.
Research is underway to find out who is more likely to get it and how to treat it. Here neuroplasticity expert and owner of Harley Street Solutions in London Ashok Gupta tells us how the condition affects the brain.
What is long Covid exactly?
Long Covid is when patients who have experienced Covid-19 go on to have continuing symptoms for weeks and months afterwards. These symptoms can include breathlessness, exhaustion, brain fog, gastric issues, pain, and post-exertional malaise. It is estimated that around 10% of Covid-19 infections may result in developing long haul symptoms, and in the USA, this may be affecting over 3 million people.
How does it affect the brain?
Here at our clinic, we hypothesise that it is due to a malfunction in the unconscious brain, creating a conditioned response that keeps the body in a hyper-aroused state of defensiveness. At the core of this hypothesis is the idea that we are here because our nervous system and immune system have evolved to survive. We are survival machines!
When we encounter something such as Covid-19, the brain perceives it as life threatening, and rightly so. And in the era of the pandemic, with more stress, anxiety and social isolation, our immunity may be compromised, and therefore it may take longer for the immune system to fight off the virus and recover.
If the brain makes the decision that this is potentially life threatening and we get to the stage where we’re overcoming the virus, a legacy is left in the brain; it keeps over-responding to anything that reminds us of the virus. Even if we’ve fought off the virus, the brain will react in a precautionary way to stimuli reminiscent of the virus.
The brain may get stuck in that overprotective response, and keeps stimulating our nervous system and our immune system, just in case the virus may still be present.
What symptoms does this cause?
These signals cause a cascade of symptoms including breathlessness, extreme fatigue, brain fog, loss of taste or smell, headaches, and many others. And these are caused by our own immunes system.
In the case of long-haul Covid, symptoms in the body get detected by a hypersensitive brain which thinks we’re still in danger. The brain then chronically stimulates the immune and nervous systems, and then we have a continuation of a chronic set of symptoms.
This isn’t unique to long-haul Covid. Many patients develop chronic fatigue syndrome, sometimes known as “ME”, for example, after the flu, a stomach bug, or respiratory illness. Covid-19 may be a severe trigger of a form of chronic fatigue syndrome or ME.
How does long-haul Covid affect mental health?
Anxiety is a very common symptom in long haulers. It can be frightening to wonder about what may be happening in your body, and what the prognosis is going to be for one’s long term health. Reaching out for support for mental health is crucial for long-haulers.
How does neuroplasticity treatment work for long-haul COVID patients?
We have been working with patients for two decades with a brain retraining programme using neuroplasticity or “limbic retraining.”
We believe that through neural rewiring, the brain can be “persuaded” that we are no longer in danger and to come back to homeostasis. But to be very clear, we are not saying it is psychological in any way, but we believe there are novel ways of accessing the unconscious brain.
We recently worked successfully with a 56-year-old male with long-haul Covid, who prior to contracting Covid-19 in March of 2020 was running half-marathons and cycling, but afterwards he struggled to get off the sofa for months. Within 3 months he’s now back to 100% and running half marathons again.
At our clinic, we train the patient to be able to recognise those subtle unconscious danger signals on the periphery of consciousness. This, coupled with supportive techniques and the natural hallmarks of good health such as sleep and diet help prepare the patient to respond to perceived threats that might trigger the response.
The natural state of our brain is to default to protection. The brain prioritises survival and passing on our genes to the next generation, over any other impulse. It cares more about that than you feeling healthy and well. Protective responses are evolutionary, and are the right thing for the brain to do – it’s survival.
What digital therapies or apps are proving effective at treating long-haul Covid?
It seems that long haul patients are availing themselves of many online therapies and services, including meditation apps and wellness websites. We have an online neuroplasticity “brain retraining” video course called the “Gupta Program” which hosts 15 interactive videos and many audio exercises. This is proving very popular with long haul patients, and we are currently conducting a trial to test the effectiveness of this therapy.
What is the danger of leaving long-haul Covid untreated?
The longer it goes untreated, we hypothesise that it may become more entrenched in the brain, and become chronic in the longer term. Therefore we advise all patients to get help and advice as soon as possible.