Last week the digital health world was taken by storm when news broke that virtual health giant Teladoc was set to acquire chronic care management platform Livongo in a whopping $18.5 billion deal.
Livongo has had quite a year in a half. Last July, it went public with a listing price of $28 a share. At the time of the acquisition, each share was valued at roughly $159. Its news has also included major partnerships, including a deal with the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program, which sent its stock prices jumping.
Today there is a lot of speculation about what’s next for the joint Teladoc and Livongo venture. Earlier this week MobiHealthNews caught up with Dr. Jennifer Schneider, the president of Livongo, to talk about what this acquisition could mean in the future.
“If you think about really delivering a consumer-centric virtual care-delivery experience that sits across, acute, episodic and chronic care … then escalation to the right provider and right care team at the right time, all driven by underlying data science, [is key]. When you add Teladoc plus Livongo what you get is that whole experience. What Teladoc brings is an incredible access to 70 million people with loads of data and the ability to deliver a one-to-one service at scale. What Livongo brings is a digital-first footprint, a strong data science engine and the ability to deliver a one-to-many at scale, so it really is the combination of the two organizations that is delivering on that shared common vision of this consumer-centered virtual care.”
As with any acquisition with data involved, there are always questions. She spelled out how Livongo thinks of that data and how it can be used in the future.
“One of the things that we hold as firm tenet is the data we are accessing around the devices … collecting the biometric data really belongs to the members. It is really the members’ data, and we are going to continue to put the members at the center of that and continue to leverage the data only in a way to allow the best optimal care for that individual person. That includes or could include escalating to a telehealth provider. It could include sharing that with your existing provider group, whether that be friends and family or other docs at brick-and-mortar.”
The merger is yet to be finalized, as are the details of what the combined company could look like in the future, but we do know that there may be some type of collaboration or escalation from Livongo’s chronic care platform to Teladoc’s virtual visits.
“I’ll hypothetically give you an example. Imagine [there’s] somebody with hypertension on the Livongo platform, and what we notice is that this person is taking their medication, but their blood pressure still remains elevated. We start to say they are probably not on the right medication. With Teladoc as a resource in conjunction with Livongo, we can then transition that person to the Teladoc provider with the underlying information for those changes to be made with better health outcomes for that individual member.”
While the business model is coming together, the exact leadership is still be worked out. So far, we know that Teladoc CEO Jason Gorevic will continue in his role and head up the joint venture. As part of the deal, Livongo will hold five out of the 13 board seats, and the current board chair, David Snow, will remain in his current seat. As for the specifics, there is still much unknown.
This acquisition also brings to light the growing field of digital health, and what future care models could look like, especially as larger companies begin to merge.
“I think about it as less … ‘How many startups do we need?’ versus, ‘How can we best solve problems for people?” she said. “It was very clear for us that, as successful as we were as a publicly-traded company in the chronic-condition space, in order to really get to scale and deliver on our vision around this connected virtual care delivery we needed to have more prescribing power and integration with providers. From the Teladoc lens they could see that they needed more digital-first, more data science and more focus on chronic conditions, which [drive] 90% of all healthcare costs today.”
While it looks like the future of this joint company will be going towards a combined model, chronic care will still be a main focus for Livongo.
“We started in diabetes and never intended to be a diabetes [company]. If we were, we would have named our company something about diabetes, but we didn’t. We named our company Livongo, live on the go. What we did was say, ‘Let’s start with diabetes. Let’s look at that condition. Let’s improve that experience.’ And, in doing so, what we learned was 70% of our members with diabetes also have high blood pressure, another 40% also suffer from hypertension [and] another 30% are struggling with weight. As you can see, the concentric buildup of the company was about addressing, at the core, what was the member experience, and what did we need to deliver to make that experience better?”