With over 5.6 million infected globally, the healthcare industry is working round the clock to fight the coronavirus pandemic. And with cases piling up and hospitals facing acute shortage of beds and medical personnel, telehealth seems to have taken up a major role.
The technology, which caters to patient needs at any place or any time, helps in screening COVID-19 patients who can recover in home quarantine with medication. This is allowing health care officials to save space for critical patients and also monitor and help home-quarantined patients recover rapidly.
Transition to Remote Services on the Rise
The coronavirus pandemic has thrown several challenges to healthcare providers. In fact, the highly-contagious COVID-19 puts the safety of front liners in jeopardy. Hence, providing patient care and follow-up services while adhering to social distancing and isolation guidelines has been a tedious task.
This is where telehealth or digital health comes into play. Telehealth offers physicians and patients an opportunity to communicate through phone or video. These platforms help doctors connect to high-risk patients who require continued care, especially when they cannot be admitted in hospitals due to risk of infection.
There are certain advantages of telemedicine like lower overhead costs, lesser need for ancillary office staff and also reduced carbon footprint. While hospitals have constantly tried to incorporate virtual visits and digital consultation for years now, the coronavirus outbreak has made such virtual services the need of the hour.
Now, even the insurance industry is paying for its customers’ non-traditional services like digital health platform while at home. In fact, many hospitals have reported a surge in virtual visits. One of Louisiana’s coronavirus hotbeds, Ochsner Health, has so far conducted more than 120,000 virtual consultations this year versus 3,300 in 2019.
In order to support social distancing along with delivering adequate treatment to COVID-19 patients, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDCP”) recommends that people who are suspected of being infected should opt for a telehealth visit before going to the emergency room. This would also reduce the risk of exposing others to the virus.
The rise in the telemedicine space is pretty evident as the stocks have been rallying in the past few months with companies raising millions of dollar worth funding. Since the peak on Feb 19, the S&P 500 lost nearly 13% till May 22. In the same time span, digital health companies like Teladoc Health, Inc. (
TDOC Quick Quote TDOC - Free Report) and 1Life Healthcare, Inc. ( ONEM Quick Quote ONEM - Free Report) rose nearly 48% and 52%, respectively.
Some private players like American Well (Amwell) have raised almost $200 million on May 20, while Omada Health raised $57 million in private and venture-backed funding.
5 Stocks to Watch Out For
Given the current health scare and the rapid growth in telehealth services, it seems prudent to keep these five stocks on the watch list –
Livongo Health, Inc. provides an integrated suite of solutions to the healthcare industry. The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current quarter is 95.7% compared with the Zacks Medical Info Systems industry’s projected earnings growth of nearly 14%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its current-year earnings has moved up 26.3% over the past 60 days. Livongo Health sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here. Teladoc Health provides virtual healthcare services on a business-to-business basis. The company belongs to the Zacks Medical Services industry and has an expected earnings growth rate of 36.6% for the current quarter. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its current-year earnings has risen 0.9% over the past 60 days. Teladoc Health carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Humana Inc. ( HUM Quick Quote HUM - Free Report) provides an integrated suite of solutions to the healthcare industry. The company belongs to the Zacks Medical - HMOs industry and has an expected earnings growth rate of 28.1% for the current quarter. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its current-quarter earnings has moved 22.4% up over the past 60 days. Humana holds a Zacks Rank #2. Anthem, Inc. ( ANTM Quick Quote ANTM - Free Report) operates as a health benefits company. The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 14.4% compared with the Zacks Medical - HMOs industry’s projected earnings growth of 3.6%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its current-quarter earnings has climbed 15.1% over the past 60 days. Anthem carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). UnitedHealth Group Incorporated ( UNH Quick Quote UNH - Free Report) operates as a diversified health care company. The company belongs to the Zacks Medical - HMOs industry and has an expected earnings growth rate of 7.5% for the current year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its current-quarter earnings has moved up 13.8% over the past 60 days. UnitedHealth Group carries a Zacks Rank #3. Biggest Tech Breakthrough in a Generation
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