Can These Mobile App Stocks Help Improve Healthcare?


Mobile apps have improved everything from food delivery to online shopping, so there’s good reason to believe it can do the same for the healthcare industry. 

In this video from “The 5” on Motley Fool Live, recorded on Sept. 23, Fool.com contributors Brian Withers, Toby Bordelon, and Demitri Kalogeropoulos share their wish-list ideas for how mobile apps could improve the healthcare experience, and a few healthcare companies that are making it happen.

Brian Withers: Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) was in the news again today. This was around its forays into healthcare. It’s said to be working on functions with its software and hardware that helped detect depression and cognitive decline of its users. This just opened up the idea for me. I know that Tim Cook has said he wants Apple to be known for its advances in healthcare. He is putting a tremendous amount of focus and effort into that. Since everyone, just about everyone carries a mobile device. These days, it puts Apple and Google remember, Google bought Fitbit into the position to help people live healthier lives. I’d love to ask you guys, is there a mobile phone function or future app that’s in the works that you’re excited about from a healthcare perspective and are there any investing angles here? Toby, I think I have you first on every single question, [laughs] that’s not the way it was supposed to be set up, but I’m going to let you go.

Toby Bordelon: Either you want me to go first? You are.

Withers: Yeah go first.

Bordelon: I’ll go. All right, I’ll start it out.

Withers: I just don’t want Demitri to feel bad. [laughs]

Bordelon: Yeah, I noticed that, too. Like on No. 3 like wait a minute. [laughs] Why am I having to go first.

Withers: Whoever set up the show needs to fix that. [laughs]

Bordelon: Somebody needs maybe to be fired man [laughs]. I don’t know if it’s actually in the works or not. I think it probably at some level, but what I would I mean, I know these things exist, but I want to see digital insurance cards taken to the next level, right? Not just show your insurance card on your app I’m talking like you’ve got a QR code. The receptionist or the nurse scans it and you’re done at check-in, right? Like you’re the intake form gets automatically filled out with the information that is provided from insurance company. You don’t have to go write in your policy number and all that nonsense. It all gets filled out. You go in, you scan, you sit down, and you wait, you don’t have to do any that nonsense with form filling out. And then discharge, too, right, they can say are you wanted to charge the card can I see your insurance app for the co-pay, yes. Done with that, prescriptions will just get automatically sent to either your pharmacy of choice. Some of that happens now. But there’s always a conversation to have. What pharmacy you want to send it to? I want that to happen automatically or your online pharmacy and they’re going to be delivered the next day to your house. The discharge instructions are in your app, whatever app you use already. We’re kind of getting there.

I remember last time I was in the ER, it was a couple of years ago. All the discharge and payments have actually happened at the bed in the ER, right? Like the guy rolled in his cart, he scanned my band. Then he said, “All right, credit card.” Boom, “There’s your co-pay. It’s being sent to your insurance. Let’s pronounce you discharged, instructions, you are good to go,” and I don’t have to stop by a desk or anything. Just walked out. They are starting to get a little bit better at that. But I think there’s room for improvement, I think. There is a way to just take all the stuff and connect it. Now, it’s a challenge right it’s a process. You obviously have some regulations that get in away at some of this in terms of healthcare privacy laws, and whatnot that need to be, I think, updated for the modern environment. But I would love just to see all these pain points go away and make going to the doctor and getting medical advice faster, smoother, and more automatic.

Withers: So you want your Amazon one-click ordering experience.

Bordelon: Exactly. I want to see like, yeah, scan this. Boom. [laughs] Call me when the doctor is ready like this.

Withers: I would love that. Demitri, what’s your thoughts here?

Demitri Kalogeropoulos: Yeah. Let’s say on a similar vein there. OK, right. This isn’t really a whiz-bang feature, I guess, but it’s what we’re using basically right now. It’s the old teleconferencing, video conferencing, which is really just has so much potential in the healthcare industry. It’s already doing a lot of distributing, I guess the idea is distributed healthcare model that allow people do like doctors visits from home. We’ve seen obviously a whole lot of that during the pandemic for convenience reasons, but also for safety reasons.

Big company to look at in this area as Teladoc (NYSE:TDOC) of course, tech ticker, TDOC. They their last earnings report, was another like blowout numbers that have more than doubled earnings year over year compared to even what would’ve been kind of the first quarter of the pandemic last year for them, which had soaring visit numbers. It’s the company that allows for patients to interact with doctors over online, through a smartphone or through a tablet. They just raised their 2021 outlook. They’re looking at having their first two billion dollar sales year this year. Obviously, that demand, there’s a big lot of question marks there about what demand does from here and depending on what happens after the pandemic threat fades. But I think just the convenience factor is just so much better than such an improvement over sort of the traditional model of just going to a crowded waiting room and sort of waiting in the lobby based on whenever you showed up and signed up to a list to see a person who is very busy in sometimes running behind by who knows how long. I just think there’s so many opportunities for that to improve the experience of doing sort of general wellness visits. Then that could just grow from there in terms of things like Apple Watches or these other devices that can transmit other information to the doctor at the same time, I think there’s a lot of room for this service to get more more in-depth over the next several years.

Withers: Yeah, you know what I need Teladoc to do? Great Clips has an awesome, you probably don’t use Great Clips, Demitri. But [laughs] has a great app where I can put in, I want to check in and it goes around the local Great Clips and says, this one’s got a 10 minute wait. This one’s got a zero. I go, I want to check in there, then when I go, I’m first in line and I get checked in, so maybe Teladoc can work on that. I’ll have them call you, Toby, if they’re paying me for ideas.

For me, I love that clinical trials and these digital devices that we have, the watch brands, and the phones are becoming more ubiquitous. As I was covering Fitbit as its own separate company, they would frequently announce research organizations that they partnered with to help digitize the clinical trial process, and you think of the process before is, hey, every time you have a headache, write it down, or when you feel your heart rate go up write it down. It was more of if the patient remembered to do it and if they filled out a form properly, and it’s just not a really reliable way to get data on mass scale. Nowadays, there are these clinical trials that are being done with tens of thousands of people over longer periods of time that just have not been possible before. It’s just something that’s really exciting to me to push forward healthcare research. I love Veeva Systems (NYSE:VEEV) as a play, V-E-E-V. They are helping the life sciences companies digitize the clinical trial experience, both with apps for the running physicians, as well as the patients. Pretty, pretty cool stuff going on there.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.





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