The telehealth industry is one of the few sectors that have benefited from COVID-19 and ASX small cap 1st Group (ASX:1ST) has upped the ante this morning.

The company has launched an online directory of telehealth clinics — — declaring the site “the Airbnb of telehealth”.

Booking medical appointments online is nothing new, but 1st Group says its service is encrypted, customised for health consultations and integrates with the company’s existing products.

Beyond booking, the platform facilitates consults using internet browsers, supports up to four users and document sharing. It also has a virtual whiteboard for clinicians.

While naturally this will make money during the COVID-19 crisis, managing director Klaus Bartosch told Stockhead this is a solution that is here to stay.

And like other telehealth solutions that have until now taken some time for people to start using, COVID-19 has significantly accelerated the pace at which people are using the product.

“One of the interesting facts not known is that when people first use a platform like ours, to book an appointment only 10-20 per cent do that from day one and it takes years to get up to 60-70 per cent, Bartosch explained.

“COVID-19 has forced consumers online and as a result of this we’ve seen a marked shift in appointments all being booked [online] and no longer by telephone.

“I see what’s happening as a massive digital disruptor being initiated by COVID-19, catapulting the healthcare industry into the digital modern world.”


Shareholders approve

1st Group shares have gradually recovered from their late March low and rose another 40 per cent today.


Bartosch says this is not just an endorsement of 1st Group’s new solution but all his companies’ products in this environment.

“It’s a demonstration a platform like ours can continue to add important new capabilities that our customers can leverage,” he said.

“Telehealth is one of those, we have multiple products which we fast tracked in response to consumer need.

“[It’s a] rather unique environment where government are fast tracking changes and are responding rapidly.

“Telehealth has been lobbying the government for a decade to make changes because the industry has known telehealth consults are efficient.

“The government was able to make changes in one week that it’d taken a decade to consider. I think it’s remarkable, good on them but it’s interesting they’ve made them so rapidly.”

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