“Common sense has prevailed” and MyHealth1st and its parent company 1st Group, is back under the leadership of CEO and founder Klaus Bartosch, following a brief period during which the management of the business was assumed by the former board. That board and its interim CEO have now resigned.
Mr Bartosch commented in a note to customers, “I am delighted to return to lead this outstanding company. I remain passionate about and deeply committed to 1st Group, having led the business from a small start-up to IPO and grown it, with challenges that come from growth, to the much stronger business we have today.
“We are now the clear leader in the allied health space with an outstanding technology platform and partnerships with industry leaders in the sectors in which we operate. We also have a wonderful team at 1st who have supported the business throughout its growth.”
Importantly, for independent optometrists who subscribe to MyHealth1st’s online search, appointment booking and marketing platform, Mr Bartosch has confirmed that the company will continue to enhance its offering now that he has an unanticipated opportunity to re-set the agenda.
The leadership saga began on 31 March 2021, when 1st Group Directors announced the departure of Mr Bartosch and the appointment of Louise McElvogue as interim Chief Executive Officer. Ms McElvogue had joined the 1st board on 1 September 2020, alongside existing board members Paul Welch (Chair) and Mike Emmett.
Subsequently, the Board undertook a review of 1st Group and announced what it claimed was a new strategic roadmap. The roadmap served to streamline products to improve scalability; focus resources on profitable customer engagements to drive sustainable growth; invest in the company’s technology and people; explore new partnerships and strategic agreements to leverage proprietary software as a service products; and improve processes and controls to ensure appropriate returns on investment.
However, shareholders challenged the board, in accordance with s249D of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth), calling for an extraordinary general meeting. On 10 May, the directors resigned.
Before resigning, the board appointed Mr Bartosch, Stephe Wilks (new Chair) and Ross McCreath as Directors of the Company. Mr McCreath has a history with the company, having acted as interim chief financial officer when 1st Group listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX). Mr Wilks, who has extensive experience as a board member and Chair of ASX-listed technology companies, has been appointed Chair.
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While MyHealth1st has “never not been focused on adding value for its customers”, Mr Bartosch said the new company structure would enable the company to move ahead with several initiatives that will add even more value to independent practices.
“It’s an opportunity to help optometrists with their retail model, such as building buy now, pay later solutions into our platform including Afterpay, Openpay and Latitude Pay.
“We’re going to deliver a brand new marketplace to drive more patients into practices and we’re also working towards helping optometrists offer a better patient experience,” he said.
MyHealth1st aims to achieve the latter by developing tools to ensure patients are prepared before consultations, with the provision of a lifestyle questionnaire that enables them to consider and express their visual needs before the consult, and with helpful information about what to expect in terms of frame and lens solutions, pricing options and the process of the clinical exam.
“That means when a patient walks into the practice, the time they spend with an optometrist and dispenser is maximised, and there is no need to make rash decisions that may not ultimately be the best decisions to suit their visual, lifestyle and budgetary needs,” Mr Bartosch explained.
One thing Mr Bartosch says he will change is the way new products are rolled out.
“The online world is fast moving and to succeed, you have to move quickly. However, if you move too quickly and launch products that aren’t 100% right to your entire market, your customers can have a negative experience.
“So going forward, while we’ll always be agile, we’ll also be more considered in our approach. We’ll take more time to test new products with small customer groups, and we’ll use their feedback to refine products before we take them to the broader market.
“There’s no denying that the last couple of months have been challenging, however common sense has prevailed and we’re ready to move forward. I’m excited about opportunities to rebuild our team, leverage areas in which we were finding success and improve on the product development process by taking a more considered approach and getting even closer to our clients.”