15 June 2021

Klaus makes a comeback

KnowCents

Enigmatic founder of 1st Group, Klaus Bartoch, is back leading the group. Did he bring a paint gun with him on his first day back?

Just two months after announcing it was transitioning to new management, founder and long-time CEO Klaus Bartosch is back at the helm of 1st Group.

Best known for its flagship booking portal MyHealth1st, 1st Group largely operates in the allied health, specialist and veterinarian sector.

After Mr Bartosch’s resignation from the ASX-listed booking engine was announced in March, board member Louise McElvogue was appointed as interim CEO.

Ms McElvogue is also on the board of government owned non-profit Healthdirect Australia but took a leave of absence whilst acting as interim CEO for 1st Group.

Since Mr Bartosch’s reinstatement, Ms Elvogue has resigned, along with chairman Paul Welch and major shareholder Michael Emmett.

“The top-line message is really simple – after a couple of months I’m back, due to significant shareholder support, and the previous board and interim CEO have gone,” Mr Bartosch told Wild Health.

Technology-sector company director Stephe Wilks will replace Mr Welch as chairman of 1st Group.

Meanwhile, financial analyst Dr Magali Azema-Barac, who has a PhD in artificial intelligence, has joined the company as non-executive director, in place of Mr Emmett.

“As the founder and CEO of this business, the one interesting outcome from this whole experience is that I now have a board with relevant experience in technology and a board that is aligned with management on the future potential of the company,” Mr Bartosch said.

Mr Bartosch’s resignation came in the wake of a company-wide strategic and operational review, which found that 1st Group’s approach had delivered “sub-optimal results for customers and poor financial returns for shareholders”.

The major issue identified in the review was that the company strategy was led by sales, which led to overly customised core products which then stymied its ability to scale and create innovative new improvements to existing platforms.

To address these concerns going forward, Mr Bartosch said he plans to pivot the company to a more proactive, rather than reactive, stance.

“So much of what we do with the healthcare industry hasn’t fundamentally changed in a century, since the telephone came out,” he told Wild Health.

His plans include developing a platform which would provide patient information and prompt people to book appointments with allied health at regular intervals.

“Making sure people are properly educated and understand why they’re [being prompted to book an appointment] and then making the process of them actually taking action easy and simple – that’s the vision we have for this business,” Mr Bartosch said.

“That’s what we’re building over time – a large network of healthcare providers and add-on products and services which help drive value for the businesses that we serve.”

In the primary care space, Mr Bartosch said that 1st Group hopes to eventually roll out a program which would allow GPs to directly upload referral details, schedule and book appointments with specialists on behalf of patients, reducing the need for unnecessary back-and-forth.

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