In Midst of Flu Epidemic, Teladoc Provides Relief for Overburdened Health System
PURCHASE, NY, February 20, 2018 — Teladoc, Inc. (NYSE: TDOC), the world's largest and most trusted provider of virtual care delivery services, announced today that amid the most severe flu outbreak in a decade, the company has provided a record number of visits as telehealth emerges as a trusted clinical solution to provide relief for an overburdened health system. Having provided more than 300,000 total patient visits in the past five weeks alone, and as widespread flu stretches across 48 states, Teladoc continues to help patients from California to Texas, and Alabama to New York get the timely care they need.
"We have seen in real time, via our Teladoc Flu Tracker, the flu spread from west to east, with southern states being particularly hard hit. I am proud of our network of board certified physicians and Teladoc's ability to scale in times of need to diagnose and treat patients of all ages suffering from flu and other seasonal ailments. We're helping our members to get better faster," said Lewis Levy, MD, chief medical officer, Teladoc.
As the health system struggles to keep pace with the pervasive flu activity, medical bodies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to state health departments are actively encouraging patients to stay home and seek care. For example, in an influenza update, the Tennessee Department of Public Health asked physicians to consider telemedicine visits for the flu to increase patient access, in response to the sharp increase in influenza and other respiratory illnesses in the state. Telemedicine is as effective if not more effective than in-person care for treating the flu.
"We've actually seen the flu being under-diagnosed this year, in part because of the reliance on the use of the flu test. The flu must be diagnosed from the presenting symptoms, making telehealth a very effective approach to care," explained Charlotte-Paige Rolle, MD, MPH, Infectious Disease specialist. "It is especially important to receive a correct diagnosis this year since the strain that is most prevalent now, H3N2, has viral attributes that make it more aggressive and has led to high mortality."
Schools districts across the country have closed to stop the spread of this highly contagious illness. In Phoenix, Ariz., Laveen Elementary School District No. 59 is a prime example of an area with high flu that is benefiting significantly from access to telehealth. The area reports widespread flu activity and more than 11,300 cases reported in the 2017-2018 flu season, according to the CDC.
"I am frequently told by employees and teaching staff how much they appreciate having access to Teladoc, especially during this flu epidemic. We're seeing an increasing number of employees take advantage of the benefit when not feeling well, thankful to have the ability to skip going to urgent care and emergency rooms that can be a breeding ground for germs," says Bianca Altamirano, benefits specialist, Laveen Elementary School District. "I strongly believe that Teladoc is helping us be proactive with the wellness of our District employees."
With the combination of the severe flu season, an overtaxed health system, and growing awareness of the value of telehealth, Teladoc has seen a significant spike in volume since the start of flu season.
At its peak in January, Teladoc reported that influenza cases represented nearly 1 in 5 visits, vs the 1 in 15 that was reported at physician practices by Modern Healthcare
Teladoc's volume of flu cases has more than doubled since the 2016 -2017 flu season
The company often treats more than 1,000 patients daily who are suffering from flu related illnesses
As emergency departments have been forced to take extreme measures – from setting up medical tents outside to restricting younger visitors – to handle the influx of flu patients, telehealth offers the opportunity and benefit of keeping ill patients out of waiting rooms and clinics, so they do not infect other medically fragile patients. Flu is highly contagious and can be spread to people within six feet of a sick patient via cough, sneeze or speech. 1
"While the CDC strongly encourages patients in communities facing an extreme outbreak of flu to call their doctor before running to an inpatient setting 2 3 , many are left asking, 'who do I call?' as a significant portion of patients don't have a PCP," said Jason Tibbels, MD, vice president of quality, Teladoc. "Telehealth provides them with that answer and gives them immediate access to care."
"Our dependence on Teladoc to meet care needs is significant year-round, but particularly during this flu season. Our members are widespread across various geographic areas, many of which are rural, and they may have long drives to access the care they need. When you think you might have the flu getting help quickly is important and no one wants to think about long waiting times in emergency departments," said Jodi Fuller, VP at National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. "Having a partner we know can provide the highest quality care for us, when we need, wherever we need it, is a tremendous value that we've come to count on."
Additional Quotes on the Telehealth for the Flu
"My son was suffering from the flu. We live in a small town with only two healthcare clinics. Both were extremely busy. I decided to use Teladoc and could not have been more pleased! I received a callback within minutes of completing the form. We will be using this service in the future when the need arises." Jennifer J., Teladoc member in Tennessee
"Downloaded app on phone at roughly midnight on moment's notice while traveling when became ill rapidly. The doctor was thorough, smart enough not to give me what I wanted (Tamiflu), thorough enough to explain why and prescribed other medications that had me feeling better by next day. I'm glad I didn't have to wander into some 24-hour clinic in a strange town. Thanks Teladoc." Kyle L., Teladoc member in Michigan
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "How Flu Spreads."
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Medical Office Telephone Evaluation of Patients with Possible Influenza."
3. National Association of County & City Health Officials, "Flu on Call: Increasing Access to Care and Treatment during Pandemic Influenza"
About Teladoc, Inc.
Teladoc, Inc. (NYSE:TDOC) is the world's largest and most trusted provider of virtual healthcare delivery services. Recognized by MIT Technology Review as one of the "50 Smartest Companies", Teladoc is forging a new healthcare experience with better convenience, outcomes and value. The company provides virtual access to high quality care and expertise with a portfolio of services and solutions – inclusive of coverage of 450 medical subspecialties – that spans the spectrum from non-urgent, episodic needs like flu and upper respiratory infections, to chronic, complicated medical conditions like cancer and congestive heart failure. By marrying the latest in data and analytics with its award-winning user experience and highly flexible technology platform, Teladoc has delivered millions of medical visits to patients around the globe. For additional information, please visit www.teladoc.com.