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2 Leading Telehealth Stocks to Buy in 2021 and Beyond

By Alex Carchidi – Oct 3, 2021 at 6:33AM

Key Points

  • Telehealth companies are expanding their services to cover more treatment areas.
  • Increasing the revenue from subscribers is a key concern for telehealth businesses.
  • Integrating medical sensors with telehealth may drive growth over the next few years.

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They're both breaking into high-value growth areas like behavioral health.

For millions of people seeking healthcare, telehealth is a no-brainer. Why bother going to the doctor in person when you could pick up your phone or computer and get the same standard of care remotely? In the past, getting the same standard of care remotely simply wasn't possible, but now that's changing -- and investors who act now can benefit from businesses that are on the cutting edge of the changes.

The two companies below are leaders in telehealth as a result of their breadth of services and their ambitious future plans, but it's important to remember that neither is profitable yet. And both have majorly underperformed the market over the last 12 months despite a plethora of promising new developments. Still, telehealth isn't about to go anywhere now that people are hooked, and if these two companies can accomplish what they're aiming to, they'll be great stocks to own. 

An adult and child attend a telehealth appointment via a laptop, and the child is wearing a pulse oximeter.

Image source: Getty Images

1. Teladoc Health

Thanks to its wide distribution and ease of use, Teladoc Health (TDOC 0.48%) is the telehealth industry's company to beat at the moment. After a strong performance during the start of the pandemic, the company is now looking to consolidate its gains in membership and brand awareness by expanding its service offerings.

In May, it launched its mental health service, myStrength Complete, which is a major driver of new value for its existing customers. 

Moving forward, a major growth area for Teladoc will be chronic care, which it plans to address with the help of at-home medical sensors. Chronic care is a favorable segment to target, as it requires a consistent volume of visits from a patient over time. So, it'll help to shore up recurring revenue. 

On that note, constantly expanding opportunities to make revenue from the company's existing subscriber base is going to be what makes Teladoc a lucrative growth stock to own for the next few years. While its paid memberships have only increased by 1% year over year in the second quarter, revenue grew by 109% in the same period. Much of that gain was driven by increased utilization of services, which rose by 47% compared to Q2 in 2020. 

That's right: Teladoc is now even more utilized by its subscribers than it was in 2020, when stricter regulations kept more people at home. There's nothing forcing consumers to seek telehealthcare with the company, and they're doing it anyway. If that's not a sign of this stock's staying power and growth potential, not much else is.

2. Amwell 

American Well Corporation (AMWL -1.80%) isn't as well known as Teladoc, but it aspires to be the same type of all-inclusive telehealth service across its numerous offerings. Though its quarterly revenue shrank by 12.2% year over year in the most recent quarter, this company is working on two unique growth areas that are highly promising for investors.

Beyond its primary and urgent care services, Amwell is making moves to build out a comprehensive behavioral health service, which is set to include everything from routine cognitive behavioral therapy to psychiatry consultations and acute psychiatric care. And, it plans to use at least some degree of automation of care delivery to reduce the burden on its providers, which might also lead to higher margins in the future. But investors might need to wait a few quarters for the services to get off the ground, so it might be a while before there's growth in revenue. 

The second growth area could be a bit more revolutionary. Amwell is distinct from other telehealth companies because it makes branded hardware like mobile video call carts for providers to use in mixed clinical and digital settings. The telehealth carts can make allocation of clinicians more efficient, as they enable distant doctors to assess patients in hospital or urgent care settings, so long as there's someone locally who can move the cart into a patient's room. 

Furthermore, Amwell also sells devices that telehealth doctors can remotely instruct patients to use to correctly take their own vital signs. Aside from giving its providers a battery of additional information and tools that they'd typically only have in an in-person setting, branching out into telehealth hardware makes Amwell a pioneer in new types of doctor-patient interactions. 

While it remains to be seen whether being a pioneer is going to be profitable, Amwell's $975.19 million in cash and a scant $4.25 million in debt means it has a long runway to make things work. Before committing to a purchase, investors should keep an eye out for positive signs like growth in its revenue and its membership base, which could be happening as soon as next quarter. Once things are trending in the right direction, it'll be a validation of Amwell's highly diversified approach to telehealth, portending good things to come.

Alex Carchidi has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amwell and Teladoc Health. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Stocks Mentioned

Teladoc Health Stock Quote
Teladoc Health
TDOC
$27.22 (0.48%) $0.13
Amwell Stock Quote
Amwell
AMWL
$3.27 (-1.80%) $0.06

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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