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Fitbit and Teladoc IPO’s: hype or hope?

By Dr. Vikrum Malhotra

Vikrum MalhotraFitbit and Teladoc represent a new age of consumer wellness sector IPOs. Fitbit is a leader in the ‘wearable’ space, a health device sector that has been under-represented in consumer electronics. It is dealing with lawsuits from Jawbone, but still soared on Day 1 as the public showed confidence in the future of the company. Raising a massive $732 million in its initial public offering after it was priced at $20 – beyond the initial $17-$19 range – has made a statement to the health technology community. Despite a difficult IPO market, investors believe that Fitbit will have a big impact in the market.

For its part, telehealth company Teladoc has been filing for an IPO at $15-17 per share, for a maximum value of $136.85 million. Teladoc posted a net loss of $6 million on 2013’s $19.9 million revenues and a $17 million net loss on 2014’s $43.5 million revenue. For the first three months of 2015, Teladoc reported $16.5 million revenues and a net loss of $12.7 million. The question is, can growing demand for its services turn the company around? Last year, Teladoc serviced approximately 299,000 visits and in the first quarter of 2015 reported 149,000 remote visits.

Telemedicine service is also an under-represented space in medicine and technology. It has faced regulatory struggles in Texas and is being sued for patent infringement, despite pushing the innovation envelope through its healthcare disruption.

To the healthcare technology companies, these consumer wellness IPOs represent a boon; they also signal that the market sees value in the services they are providing, despite the evident struggles.

Thanks to the emergence of various consumer and telehealth technologies, we are collecting health data like never before. But there are still many unanswered questions.

What kind of savings in healthcare costs can we expect? Where do we go from here as physicians, and what will we do with all this data? How reliable is the data for medical use as we treat patients in this new technological age?

Innovation is slow in healthcare, as physicians are generally slow adopters. As doctors, our role in utilizing this data has become pivotal for healthcare outcomes and preventative medicine benefits. The train has left the station. The end destination has yet to be seen.

Dr. Sunny (Vikrum) Malhotra is a US trained Cardiologist who was named one of the top “Doctors on Twitter” to follow. He is an entrepreneur and investor. He is the founder of Bookaclinic.com, a Canadian telemedicine practice in Ontario, Canada.

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