NEW YORK, Jan. 28, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- As digital transformation continues to infiltrate the $10 trillion global healthcare industry, telehealth is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to traditional clinic visits. This trend is gaining momentum so quickly that experts predict the market growing at a CAGR of 22.74% over the next five years to reach $16 billion. Gone are the days of waiting hours at a doctor's office for a prescription refill or simple question. Now, thanks to company's like Telus Corporation (NYSE:TU) (TSX:T), WELL Health Technologies Corp. (TSX-V:WELL) (OTCPK:WLYYF), Teladoc Health (NYSE:TDOC), Medtronic PLC (NYSE:MDT), and Premier Health Group Inc. (CSE:PHGI) (OTCPK:PHGRF), patients can schedule appointments, review orders, check on prescriptions, and even consult with a medical professional right from their phone.
While telehealth has existed for some time, it's become significantly more popular in recent years and will continue to do so thanks to advancements in technology and loosening Medicare telehealth regulations. Telehealth services not only provide ease and convenience to patients but also cut down costs and reduce the strain of medical labor shortages by minimizing in-person visits for non-emergency cases.
Telehealth Companies Disrupting the Healthcare Industry
US-based Teladoc Health (NYSE:TDOC) fueled the world's appetite for telehealth services when it launched in 2005 and quickly became the oldest and largest telehealth platform in the US. The telehealth giant now offers its services in 130 countries, providing millions of patients around the world access to affordable healthcare. Medical device company Medtronic PLC (NYSE:MDT) is another industry vet that focuses on providing health practitioners with remote monitoring services. The company entered the telemedicine space when it acquired privately-held telehealth and patient remote-monitoring services provider Cardiocom in 2013.
North of the border are Telus Corporation (NYSE:TU) (TSX:T), WELL Health Technologies Corp. (TSXV:WELL) (OTCMKTS:WLYYF) and Premier Health Group Inc. (CSE:PHGI) (OTC:PHGRF), all of which are focused on offering telehealth services to the Canadian healthcare industry, which is plagued by numerous shortcomings and in dire need of an alternative.
Telecommunications giant Telus Corporation entered the telehealth space when it launched the Babylon app in the spring of 2019, which has netted over 2,500 patient visits. Meanwhile, WELL Health Technologies Corp. has built a roster that includes 180 doctors and 19 wholly-owned clinics that served 600,000 patients. WELL Health also provides SaaS-based software and support to a network of 946 clinics across Canada that serve over 6,000 physicians and includes more than 15 million registered patients.
Premier Health Group Inc. (CSE:PHGI) (OTC:PHGRF) is the newest publicly-traded addition to Canada's telehealth industry, however, it is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with in the space and could follow in WELL's footsteps in 2020. The company entered the sector in August 2018 and hasn't slowed down since. On January 23, Premier reached 90,000 registered patients on its MyHealthAccess Telemedicine patient portal.
Earlier this month, the company also completed the acquisition of Livecare Health Canada, an established leader in the Canadian digital health space that provides service to over 500 independent active health practitioner accounts and has served over 27,000 patients to date.
The deal will give Premier Health Group inc. (PHGI.CN - PHGRF) access to Livecare's bluetooth technology, offering patients a higher-quality telemedicine visit than any of its competitors and KindredPHR, a healthcare software app that provides clients with a personal health record to store, manage and share health information among multiple healthcare providers.
Prior to adding Livecare to its roster, Premier Health acquired medical software application company, Cloud Practice Inc., along with cloud-based EMR solution Juno EMR, medical billing software ClinicAid, and online patient portal MyHealthAccess. Juno EMR is used by 315 clinics, over 3,000 health practitioners and has nearly 3 million registered patients.
Premier Health Group inc. (PHGI.CN - PHGRF) also added two cash flow positive pharmacies in Metro Vancouver to its roster in 2019, which had a combined annual revenue of roughly C$6 million for fiscal 2018.
But, what really gives Premier Health Group inc. (PHGI.CN - PHGRF) a competitive edge in the telemedicine industry is its use of artificial intelligence (AI). Last fall, the company launched its healthcare app and kicked off an exciting collaboration with IBM (NYSE:IBM) to build and integrate Watson AI into the app as a virtual Medical Office Assistant (MOA) for Premier Health's 4,600 healthcare professionals and nearly 3 million patients.
Growing Interest in Telehealth Industry Boosts Stocks
WELL Health Technologies Corp has come a long way since joining the telehealth space and its share price and market cap are finally beginning to reflect this growth. In 2018, the company reported a considerable increase in revenue, bringing in C$1.9 million in Q4 2018 and C$5.89 million for the full year. But it wasn't until mid-2019 that the market really took notice of WELL, following aggressive M&A activity, ever-growing revenue and the announcement of a C$12 million bought deal private placement. WELL Health saw its share price reach a high of C$1.85 in August 2019, representing a 340.48% from the beginning of the year.
Premier Health Group inc. (PHGI.CN - PHGRF) is already beginning to follow the same growth trajectory. The company's fiscal 2019 revenue is projected at C$11.5 million and is estimated to increase to C$55.9 million by 2022.
The company's share price is hovering around US$0.45, which represents a 28.57% since the beginning of 2020, but it could go higher this year. According to Morningstar analysis, Premier Health Group inc. (PHGI.CN - PHGRF) is undervalued and trading at a 43% discount.
What can Investors Expect from Telehealth Companies in 2020?
The year 2019 saw some exciting advances in the telehealth industry, and 2020 is expected to be even bigger. Some of the growth drivers for this year include a shift in investments from private to public markets, corporate partnerships and acquisitions, regulatory acceleration, virtual clinic trials, and AI applications.
WELL Health Technologies Corp. kicked off 2020 by graduating to the Toronto Stock Exchange on January 10, 2020. Moving forward, upcoming catalysts for WELL include the closing of its bought deal private placement, Q4 2019 and full year financial results, increased clinic automation resulting in reduced cost and organic revenue growth from recent acquisitions.
Meanwhile, Teladoc Health is expected to further solidify its top spot in 2020 after recently announcing its plan to acquire InTouch Health, a company that sells telehealth software services to hospitals.
It's unclear if Medtronic PLC or Telus Corporation have any big plans for its telehealth services in 2020, although it looks like Medtronic PLC plans to shift its attention back to developing innovative medical devices after receiving FDA approval to proceed with an investigational device exemption (IDE) trial for its tiny, minimally invasive wireless pacemaker.
Premier Health Group inc. (PHGI.CN - PHGRF) has already started off 2020 strong by acquiring Livecare, but it also has several catalysts coming down the pipeline including partnerships with Indigenous communities, dedicated telemedicine doctors for its virtual clinics, additional pharmacy-based kiosks and overseas expansion through a strategic partnership in China.
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