Another banner year in virtual care/telemedicine. Last year I ventured out with some predictions [read here]…you be the judge on my accuracy, but I think I could potentially play baseball for some minor league amateur softball team with my average. If it was slow pitch. Maybe.
So time to sharpen my dull pencil again and commit to some good laughs at 2017’s New Year’s party!
1. The Whole Virtual Care Kitchen includes Async:
Consumers and physicians have spoken clearly that video is not the preferred method for virtual interaction for simple conditions; this despite some massive legislative machinations from industry insiders to orient telemedicine legislation around video-based encounters. As I have preached for years, this video fad is just that – it will pass as the economic value of asynchronous visits becomes mainstream. Look for 2016 to be the year when asynchronous visits account for more than 25% of all virtual encounters across the country.
2. #value is Telemedicine v2:
As the market matures around telemedicine and virtual care, so will the ability to calculate a true ROI around virtual care. With so many companies grappling for consumers, providers and payers, having just another video solution with a clinical network won’t be enough. Vendors who can’t demonstrate an ROI will be left in the dust. The handful that can will find receptive buyers. The hashtag for ATA this year won’t be #features but #value.
3. Prove it! Series A Investment will Wane:
The VC community will pull back for a bit on higher risk Series A investment in virtual care/telemedicine companies as they evaluate how the market begins to settle. Start-ups that are in a proof of concept/beta phase will need to demonstrate true market adoption or transformative product differentiation to attract growth capital.
4. The Yellow Brick Road to Profitability:
Some telemedicine companies are touting adoption rates 3-5x actual utilization. This will start to backfire on them as more transparency around adoption becomes available to the market. Healthcare providers and payers will hone in (per #2) on facts/data in 2016 and orient investment/partnerships accordingly. The halcyon days of hope will become a distant memory. To this end, there is no wizard of Oz for driving consumer adoption – but there are viable business models that will weather this transition. The companies investing in basic economics and product/market fit will survive or be acquired at a premium.
There you go. Perhaps a little more vague than last year, but I sense the market truly maturing in 2016, especially on the health system side. Of course, I’ll look forward to being surprised along the way. Agree/disagree? Love to hear your thoughts. Here’s to a dynamic 2016!