Teladoc Health (TDOC -4.67%) reported on Friday that the number of patient visits it has facilitated jumped 50% week over week. The virtual medical provider's services have been in heavy demand since COVID-19 hit the U.S. The company is seeing 15,000 visits requested every day. Last week Teladoc provided approximately 100,000 virtual healthcare visits to patients.
"We are seeing more patients and more of those patients are experiencing upper respiratory issues," said Lew Levy, the chief medical officer of the company. "As we saw during the flu epidemic of 2018, a community's healthcare system can become overwhelmed and virtual care can help provide needed relief. We have the unique ability to immediately connect with the CDC and other government agencies, to add the right screening tools and clinical quality protocols to our system, and most importantly, to keep patients -- particularly those most at risk with underlying health conditions -- out of care settings where they can face exposure."
The demand for virtual doctor visits has skyrocketed as the federal government has encouraged the public to take advantage of telehealth services. It's a highly useful service in a pandemic situation. Several major health insurers including Humana, Cigna, and Aetna (now a division of CVS), have waived patient costs for telemedicine visits during this emergency. Teladoc reported more than half its patient visits are from first-time users.
Teladoc was a fast-growing company even before the COVID-19 pandemic. The company added 14 million members in 2019, a growth rate of 61%. It ended the year with 36.7 million patients in its system. The stock is up 330% since the company's initial public offering in 2015, versus a 30% gain for the S&P 500.