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The Biggest Reason Why Teladoc Shouldn't Fear Amazon Entering Telehealth

By Jason Hall - Jan 15, 2021 at 5:00AM

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Although it's a giant and formidable competitor, not even Amazon is big enough to eat the entire telehealth pie.

E-commerce and technology giant Amazon (AMZN 3.58%) is well known for jumping into new markets, disrupting existing players, and taking market share. And it's looking as if the company is increasingly focused on healthcare, a massive industry that's only going to grow in the decades ahead. Most recently, word that Amazon is likely to enter the telehealth market has Teladoc (TDOC 3.57%) investors concerned that this deep-pocketed giant is about to disrupt its growth prospects.

Should shareholders worry? Jason Hall, host of Motley Fool Live's daily show, "The Wrap," doesn't think so. In the video below, from the Dec. 16 episode, he explains why he thinks Teladoc's prospects remain very, very good, no matter what Amazon decides to do.


Jason Hall: Teladoc shares fell essentially because Business Insider reported that Amazon is building a telehealth services business that would be competing against Teladoc.

There's a little bit of background here. Amazon actually already does a little bit of telehealth. They've built some internal apps, something they call Amazon Care, for their Seattle-based employees. The company has hinted that it could take that further, and let's face it -- Amazon is a company that is well known for going after markets where management thinks there's an opportunity to disrupt the current players, do something bigger, and become a bigger company. This is kind of the company's MO.

But to me, I don't think this is a major risk for Teladoc. Now, I own Teladoc and Amazon both, so ideally, a lot of you probably do, too, so you win, you win either way. But I think the big takeaway here is this is going to be a huge market. It's going to be a massively important area that's going to grow enormously. The power and the value of telehealth is a lot more than just managing through pandemics and allowing patients access to healthcare professionals when things like social distancing have to be the norm simply to keep people safe.

The reality is that Teladoc's entire business model and the thing that made this such a compelling business exists no matter what's going on in terms of pandemics, because the bottom line is that the cost of healthcare continues to rise, access to specialists continues to become a growing problem, and in the United States and really all of the developed world, the number of older people is increasing, the number of seniors is growing rapidly. I've talked about that before. I think it's in 2040, there's going to be something like 40 million Americans that are over the age of 80. That's double where it was in 2010. The older people get, the more care they're required to get.

So in order to help, do two things. No. 1, control the cost of care and No. 2, ensure the best health outcome. Telehealth is going to become increasingly more important. If somebody needs to see a specialist and the nearest specialist in their field that they need is three hours away, using telehealth for the initial consult can be enormously beneficial for everybody involved and for continued care. Telehealth is going to play an important role. And also, I think it's easy to kind of sleep on Teladoc's recent merger and acquisition. One of you guys is going to have to help me; the name has fallen completely out of my mind here. Danny?

Danny Vena: That would be Livongo Health.

Jason Hall: Thank you. Livongo Health is more of a chronic-care side of the business. Their big thing was helping people treat their diabetes. So you think about the ability to serve for chronic care; this is going to be an enormous market I think is the big thing. There's going to be multiple winners, and even if Amazon does decide to go big into telehealth, that doesn't mean that the future for Teladoc doesn't remain bright. I think that's the big thing investors have to remember is there can be more than one winner. And I think when you're talking about an area that's going to see tens and tens of billions of dollars invested and that number is going to grow every single year for the next 30 years, I think you will see multiple winners, and I think Teladoc is in a great position to be one of those winners, whatever Amazon does.

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