Teladoc’s new marketing director, Vidya Raman-Tangella, on the telehealth giant’s clinical strategy and new products


Major telehealth providers are moving away from the possibility of virtual clinical visits to offer complete and global offers. It’s something Teladoc, the largest telehealth provider in the United States, is focusing on to stay ahead in an increasingly competitive space.

Teladoc’s new chief medical officer, Vidya Raman-Tangella, a longtime healthcare innovation executive, is spearheading this corporate strategy.

Raman-Tangella sat down with Healthcare Dive to discuss day one priorities, her vision for health equity, closing care gaps and why this might be the role she’s wanted her entire career.

This information has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

Healthcare Dive: What are your top priorities at Teladoc?

Raman-Tangelle: The company’s clinical strategy is at the forefront, bringing together various assets that we have brought to bear over the past few years. We have breadth and depth. What does this unified clinical strategy look like?

It’s no different than where we are already, trying to solidify ourselves in the whole person care space. So the clinical strategy behind that is the number one priority, and making sure that it’s patient-centric, results-driven, and data-driven.

I think of it as being able to provide solutions and not just products. A product would be primary care, mental health, disease management, etc. A solution is something that meets all of a patient’s needs and meets them where they are.

Another priority is the equally important focus on health equity. How can we make sure it’s not something that sits on the sidelines, but is built into everything we do? It starts with everything from collecting the right data to delivering those solutions to customers and finding results that let us know if we’re on track or missing the mark.

How do you create these solutions?

Raman-Tangella: We have all of these assets, and within each of them we have abilities. So as part of our weight management program, we can get people’s weight data, food data, etc. In our type 2 diabetes management program, we can get people’s blood sugar data.

What I mean by thinking about things more clinically and holistically is to realize that the contributing factors to most chronic diseases are roughly similar. For example, if someone comes to us to manage high blood pressure, we work with them on their weight, blood sugar control, mental well-being – not only do we help them with their high blood pressure, but we help solve many other potential problems.

So it’s about taking the right kind of data and asking how do we scale our capabilities from day one? How to personalize and anticipate the needs of an individual? So it’s very different from the one-size-fits-all products you have on the market.

How do your customers inform this?

Raman-Tangelle: It’s a two-way street. The classic definition of telehealth as simply a technological platform enabling virtual visits is so outdated now. But consumers are very willing to receive care virtually. What does this mean for us? For employers? For health plans?

Together, we identify gaps — like primary care, that we can fill virtually. These partnerships are essentially about understanding where these big gaping holes are at the population level and how to use the virtual mechanism to fill them.

The musculoskeletal system is an excellent example. If someone is struggling with one or more musculoskeletal issues, and arthritis here, and tendinopathy here – that’s clearly not the best quality of life or the best sense of well-being. So it’s definitely an area we’re looking at, and we’ve heard from our employer and health plan customers that they would be very interested in partnering with us to develop this solution. The thinking behind this is already underway.

Physiotherapy – the number of startups that have sprung up to enable this is virtually mind-boggling. This area lends itself well to this ongoing point of contact. So yes, we are definitely looking into that.

How do you approach health equity?

Raman-Tangelle: We believe that you can’t effectively address inequities without an overarching health equity strategy that is closely tied to clinical strategy, business strategy, performance strategy — everything.

When you start creating a program, you need to bring in data not only on the usual drivers like race, but also on the social determinants. We bring it all in, then look at population-level data to say, where do we see disparities, and how do we proactively address them?

We are also developing models that will basically tell us before something happens. Which members could be steered in the wrong direction? What can we do to intervene? It also opens doors for us in the future to build strong partnerships across the healthcare ecosystem to address food insecurity, transportation issues, and more.

How has your experience, including at companies like AWS and UnitedHealthcare, influenced your new role?

Raman-Tangella: My journey has been in the juxtaposition of clinical medicine, primarily consumer-facing technology, and then working across the entire healthcare ecosystem. Teladoc was such a great game. It’s probably the role I’ve wanted all my life.

We are not saying that we are going to solve all the problems of the world. But if we start aiming for the right path and bring partners on this journey, I think we will solve something.


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