I once had six guns pointed at me at the same time…
I almost died as a child from kidney disease…
I’ve been through a horrific car crash that almost killed me and my brother…
I’ve been in two elevators that failed, one of which crashed into a sub-basement.
This pandemic has made me more aware of my mortality than any of those near-death experiences.
At almost 50 years old, I’m in the cohort where the death rate from COVID-19 spikes from single digits to double digits.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17.1% of all coronavirus deaths are occurring in the 45–64 cohort… 21.1% of deaths are in the 65–74 range… and those 75-plus make up 59.3% of the deaths.
For older people everywhere, the coronavirus is a real threat. It’s why I’ve made the decision to stick to a strict quarantine.
I haven’t seen my adult children in more than two months… and I have no idea when I will see them again.
Is this an extreme response? Perhaps.
But it appears I’m not alone in this line of thinking.
Across America, people are dying from treatable illnesses because they’re afraid to go to the hospital.
A study by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found the average cardiac ward has seen its patient count drop by 40% since the coronavirus took hold in March.
Just like millions of people, I’ve chosen to forgo my normal checkups, doctors’ appointments, and regular screenings for my chronic health issues.
This shared fear has unleashed a new trend that will be with us long after the novel coronavirus is a distant memory.
Today, it’s an early-stage trend that one group of analysts believes could be worth as much as $225 billion by 2026. So I want to tell you all about it and why you need to put it on your radar.
Fighting COVID-19 From a Distance
The biggest change in consumer habits since e-commerce has been in a new trend called telemedicine (also called telehealth).
Telemedicine covers all of the ways doctors and patients can use technology to communicate without being in the same room. It includes phone calls, video chats, emails, and text messages.
Telemedicine itself isn’t new, but its emerging widespread use is. The coronavirus pandemic has taken this little-used medical option and turbocharged it.
Last year, telemedicine visits totaled 36 million. Forrester Research expects that to grow to 1 billion visits this year. Adding fuel to this trend is a recent decision by the U.S. government to allow for Medicare and Medicaid to reimburse telemedicine visits at the same rate as in-person visits.
I believe this will incentivize just about every medical practice group in the country to offer some type of telemedicine option.
This is why we’ve seen the use of telemedicine services, like those provided by Teladoc Health (TDOC), boom in recent weeks.
Teladoc allows you to visit with a doctor remotely via a computer or phone. Its usage has ballooned 100% and its stock price is up nearly 100% since the beginning of the year.
At the end of 2019, the global telemedicine market was valued at $45 billion and projected to grow over 21% annually through 2026, surpassing $175 billion in six years.
New estimates from Business Insider suggest the telemedicine market will grow 80% in 2020 to $81 billion. This is huge. It implies the global telemedicine market could surpass $225 billion in 2026. That’s over 29% more than original estimates.
As I already mentioned, the coronavirus might be gone in a couple of years… but its impact on consumer behavior will be with us forever.
One clear-cut change will be people’s refusal to sit in a germ-filled waiting room for one to two hours just to see a doctor… The same way most of us rarely set foot in a bookstore anymore.
Consumers today prefer to order a digital one from Amazon and read it immediately. So, too, will consumers balk at wasting half their day going to the doctor’s office for a routine appointment.
That means telemedicine is a massive trend with long legs. While Teladoc currently appears to be the leader in the space, I wouldn’t be a buyer of its shares here. Trading at over 20x sales, it’s at an 810.4% premium over the market and priced for perfection.
I expect more players to emerge in the telehealth space and still think it’s wide open for disruption. This is a trend I’ll keep you updated on. For now, put it on your radar, but wait for a pullback before wading into telemedicine stocks.
Let the Game Come to You!
Editor, Palm Beach Daily
P.S. One emerging industry is using cutting-edge technology to help alleviate the coronavirus crisis. In fact, it’s helping to secure supply chains, authenticate N95 masks, and is projected to help the health care industry save up to $150 billion each year.
I call it my No. 1 investment of the decade. You can learn more about it right here.