Teladoc Health (TDOC -0.07%) ranks as one of my favorite healthcare stocks. Its share price is up by a respectable 16% so far this year. In the first quarter, Teladoc's revenue jumped 43% year over year, and the company's total number of visits soared by 75% to more than 1 million.
But as much as I like Teladoc Health for how it's doing now, I like it even more for what I expect the company will do in the future. Where will Teladoc be in 10 years? My answer to that question gives me plenty of confidence about my investment in the stock.
Blue skies for telehealth
To determine where Teladoc Health will be in 10 years, we need to first get a sense for where telehealth might be then. If you're not familiar with telehealth, it's the delivery of healthcare services remotely using technology. Telehealth can be as simple as a phone call with a doctor, but it can also involve online video conferencing.
The main reason I'm optimistic about Teladoc's future is that I'm bullish about the prospects for telehealth in general. One important consideration is the trend of aging demographics. The U.S. Census Bureau points to 2030 -- a little over 10 years from now -- as "an important demographic turning point in U.S. history." That's when all individuals in the baby boomer generation will be age 65 or over.
This translates to a higher demand for healthcare services. For example, the American Hospital Association estimated that by 2030 more than 60% of baby boomers will have at least one chronic condition to manage.
It will also almost certainly result in an increased focus by payers, including government programs, employers, and private insurers, to find ways to control rising healthcare costs. And this isn't a challenge just for the U.S. Countries across the world will have larger numbers of older citizens.
Telehealth provides one way to help keep healthcare costs under control. A study conducted by large health insurer Humana (HUM -0.24%) last year found that the use of telehealth services reduced the costs of physician visits by two-thirds. Another study, by the California Public Employees Retirement System, found that patients who participated in a telehealth visit were less likely to require a follow-up visit compared to patients with similar conditions who visited an emergency department or physician's office.
Also, the Association of American Medical Colleges projects that the U.S. could have a shortage of up to 120,000 physicians by 2030. Some areas won't have enough physicians to serve their populations. Telehealth is a logical solution to help address this issue.
Teladoc Health's strategy
Just because telehealth should become more widely adopted doesn't automatically mean that Teladoc Health will reap significant rewards from that growth. But I think it will, in large part because the company's strategy should make it happen.
Teladoc continues to expand its suite of clinical services that it offers. This will enable it, in my view, to be a go-to telehealth provider for many employers, health plans, and government programs.
Speaking of government programs, Teladoc Health CEO Jason Gorevic said in the company's Q1 conference call that Teladoc is "in active discussions" with Medicare Advantage plans and should have more information on its progress in the second half of 2019. I think that within the next few years, Medicare will be a big part of the company's business.
The company is also increasing its penetration of global markets. Teladoc Health already offers the broadest global footprint of any telehealth services provider. Because controlling healthcare costs and improving the availability of healthcare services are issues across the world, I think that Teladoc's leadership in international markets will play a key role in the company's success over the next 10 years.
While Teladoc works to expand outwardly, it's also focusing on existing customers. A key component of the company's growth strategy is to increase penetration with current customers. That's a big opportunity considering that Teladoc's customer base includes 40% of the Fortune 500 and thousands of smaller organizations.
Doing fine in '29
So where will Teladoc Health be 10 years from now? My view is that the company will be prospering much more than it is today.
I think that Teladoc will be very profitable. Currently, it's losing money -- but largely because it continues to invest in growth. If Wall Street's growth estimates prove to be accurate, Teladoc stock could more than double within the next five years. I think that's attainable. And I suspect that the stock could come close to doubling in the following five years.
If I'm right, Teladoc Health could be worth more than $15 billion in 10 years, compared to a little over $4 billion now. I plan to hold on to this stock for the long run.