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CloudMD (DOC.C): Perhaps this might be a good time to talk about investing in telemedicine

02/27/2020

As happens whenever a global crisis hits, there are plenty of investors currently watching the global Coronavirus outbreak and looking to panic sell.

There are also a few looking to capitalize on the opportunities found in preventing potential doom.

Like folks who buy gun stocks whenever a military conflict breaks out, or those who buy gold as a safe haven when the world’s leaders engage in a game of ‘Armageddon Chicken’, a pandemic brings about macroeconomic changes that can be utilized to make money. Sure, it might be a bad time to invest in airlines, cruise ships, anything built in China, and anywhere large groups might stand around in close quarters – but healthcare, specifically healthcare that can be engaged in without leaving the house – looks set to have quite the moment.

The terminology for this is ‘telemedicine’, where a doctor consults with patients remotely rather than forcing them to come to a medical clinic or hospital. For most medical issues, a remote consultation is fine – in fact, it’s preferable to having patients travel, then sit in a waiting room crowded with sick people – and the camera on a phone is more than enough to show a physician what’s ailing you. If a test is needed, then an in-person visit can be arranged, but more often than not that’s not necessary.

Telemedicine saves time and money when consultations are needed, but it also allows MORE consultations and better health outcomes, since patients don’t need to wait until things are at their worst before launching off to get medical help.

Telemedicine is the future – but investing in telemedicine has long been difficult, because adoption has been slow. Plenty of companies have touched on the space, but the legacy tradition of going to the doctor when you’re sick has been tough to dislodge, even when it’s now possible to talk to a doctor using your cellphone video camera from the comfort of your couch, during a TV commercial break.

That adoption bottleneck might not be the case for much longer.

  • More than 100,000 Italians in 10 villages are under lockdown in the ‘red zone’ in northern Italy, where the military has been deployed and people have been told to stay inside.
  • CDC warns Americans “should prepare for possible community spread” of virus.
  • In Japan, the “J League”, Japan’s professional soccer league, has announced that it will postpone all games until at least March 15, saying in a statement that it’s “fully committed” to stopping the spread of the coronavirus.
  • Outbreak-related news in Seoul took on a more morbid tone Tuesday following reports in the local press that a civil servant from the Ministry of Justice’s Emergency Safety Planning Office jumped off a bridge in Seoul at around 5 am local time Tuesday.
  • Bahrain has banned its citizens from traveling to Iran as it reports 9 new cases of coronavirus, raising the total cases in the tiny island kingdom to 17 in the span of 24 hours.

And all that was just from yesterday afternoon.

When literally hundreds of thousands of people are concerned they might have a potentially deadly virus, and they’re being told not to leave their homes, what’s their next step?

  • Stockpile food.
  • Stockpile water.
  • And maybe download an app that gets you connected with your doctor without leaving the house.

Enter CloudMD (DOC.C).

The CloudMD telemedicine app, which launched in B.C. just 3 weeks ago, is a virtual clinic that patients can access for free, allowing them to see a doctor in real-time from their smartphone or desktop device.

“CloudMD’s app allows a physician’s practice to extend into virtual visits for their patients who may not need face to face interactions,” said Dr. David Ostrow, current Chief Medical Officer of CloudMD and former CEO of Vancouver Coastal Health Authority. “Patients are able to do this without sacrificing the background medical knowledge that exists in their clinic records and with the assurance that they are getting a full range of services using CloudMD. In addition, with CloudMD there’s less time off work and fewer waits in crowded waiting rooms.”

Which all sounds well and good, but the proof is in the pudding, so I signed up and tried to find a real doctor appointment using the app. What I was offered wasn’t ‘we can fit you in in about three days’, which is what I got from my local physician. And it wasn’t the ‘sit in a room with 30 other sick people until we call you – and BTW hackers stole our data’ that you get from LifeLabs.

I got this:

Note the time on the top left of the image: 1:23pm. The next available appointment was in 2 minutes.

I can’t get a coffee that fast. I can’t reach a Telus customer service person inside an hour, but here was a bona fide doctor ready to talk to me via cellphone video inside two minutes, with the fees being paid through my provincial health card.

If I lived in the interior of the province and local doctors were hard to find, this is an amazing advance. If I was sick enough that I didn’t want to leave the house, likewise.

If I needed a follow-up chat but didn’t need to be physically present, which would be about half of doctor consultations, this is a godsend.

If I just needed my prescription refilled, this saves me having to take time off work to get it done.

And, heck, if I’m a doctor trying to fit in as many consultations as I can to maximize my earning potential while still fulfilling my oath as a physician, this EMR system gets me there.

Yes, there are telemedicine apps and electronic health record suites and Electronic Medical Records (EMR) systems out there already – in fact, I found 106 as I was writing this piece.

But few tie everything up like CloudMD in a way that can help a clinic run better by creating financial and statistical business reports, provide access to patient records and prescription history without compromising security, and remain HIPAA compliant while creating, uploading, storing, and previewing medical documents.

And fewer still have 90,000 patients already signed up.

The elements of CloudMD that have been acquired over the last few years are a pretty impressive lineup.

  • Livecare: Which transforms organizational processes at medical practices by making administrative tasks easier.
  • Juno EMR: Which makes electronic medical record keeping more secure, faster, easier, and more accessible.
  • ClinicAid: Medical billing software that simplifies clinic management.
  • HealthVue Medical: Integrated medical clinics which serve as the telemedicine backbone.
  • Coast Medical: High volume walk-in clinic chain offering a wide range of medical services.

If it was just an app, I wouldn’t give this a second glance, but what it really is, is a series of interconnected healthcare solutions that embrace technology to deliver services to more, and better, for less.

Right now we’re seeing the Coronavirus outbreak causing a panicked stock market move that is killing every company – except those involved in healthcare and telemedicine.

To that:

From $0.40 to nearly $0.60 in a month, with half that rise coming in the last 24 hours.

Why?

CloudMD to Scale Up Telemedicine Availability Amidst Global Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak

“We are prepared to rapidly scale our resources as needed to meet the currently rising demand for telemedicine services,” said Dr. Essam Hamza, CEO of CloudMD. “Our services can make an impact by providing triaging, support, information and medical advice for a worried public. Unnecessarily heading to a doctor’s office or emergency room not only increases demand on already stretched resources, but also increases a patients chances of exposure or spreading of virus. We will be looking to work with government agencies and health organizations to help support their patient populations.”

I just heard Hamed Shahbazi, CEO of WELL Health Technologies (WELL.T), who is killing it creating a better, bigger, medical services company in Canada, talking at the Gravitas Securities Growth Conference specifically about how he sees the next two areas he can really grow into being medical records storage and computer security relating to same. Shahbazi is a rock god in this field right now, he can get an audience with anyone, and has the means to buy whatever parts he feels he can use to create his vision. So when he says he wants the pieces CloudMD already has, that’s important.

But it’s ever more important now, as Coronavirus takes hold.

This company has just become a ‘now’ deal, whereas last month it was a ‘sometime’ deal.

Heck, you can buy stock in the companies that make paper masks – and end up rolling a hard downward slide when CoronaVirus eases off in a month or two or you can buy into telemedicine, get the momentary jump in enthusiasm around the potential pandemic, and still have a really nice healthcare operation at the back end of things that will bring in solid revenues going forward.

In its former incarnation, Premier Health, CloudMD did fine work identifying, acquiring, and integrating the parts of its plan that today make it an important entrant into the health-tech market.

Developing an app isn’t such a big deal, but having 90k patients already using your software, and having doctors actively encouraging them to join, is a mighty thing.

Cloud MD is moving hard, now, so put it on your watchlist and, as part of your due diligence, maybe sign up.

— Chris Parry

FULL DISCLOSURE: CloudMD is an Equity.Guru marketing client.

 

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