1stAvailable set to expand with buy-outs and ASX listing

Online appointments service 1stAvailable.com.au is set to massively expand its operations through plans to acquire three other booking engines, including DocAppointments and Clinic Connect, and to list on the stock exchange.

Looking to raise $10 million, 1stAvailable.com.au will open an initial public offering (IPO) next Monday, with the intention of listing on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) in early June. 1stAvailable will be the first online healthcare appointment booking company to publicly list.

It also plans to acquire DocAppointments, set up by Tasmanian GP Calin Pava in 2011 to create a booking system that worked in his own practice. DocAppointments has since gone on to release a number of apps, integrate with several general practice management systems and develop new products such as a check-in app and repeat script request functionality.

Like DocAppointments, Clinic Connect is practice-specific rather than patient-facing. It has an existing relationship with the third firm that 1stAvailable is set to buy – enterprise-level booking system GOBookings.

In addition to a range of clients in business and government, GOBookings has a number of public and private healthcare clients for its appointments and resources booking system, such as Terry White Chemists, UHG, Sonic Healthcare, Medibank Private, BreastScreen Victoria and private hospitals and specialist medical clinics.

It also provides the technology underlying Clinic Connect's appointments system, which is aimed at GPs, specialists, physiotherapists, optometrists and other allied health professionals. Clinic Connect is integrated into many of the leading practice management systems for GPs and allied health practitioners.

1stAvailable.com.au itself was established in 2012 by dentist Rick Luu. In addition to allowing practices to offer an online service to existing patients, it also offers search functionality for patients looking for a practitioner by location or preferred time of appointment.

The company is now run by online entrepreneur Klaus Bartosch, who said the combined businesses of 1stAvailable.com.au, GOBookings, Clinic Connect and DocAppointments make an average of 87,000 appointments each month across approximately 2200 private healthcare providers and 134 corporate and government clients.

“Each of GOBookings, Clinic Connect and DocAppointments has a different market niche, but they share an underlying philosophy: to promote continuity of care and patient loyalty by making it easy for a patient to book an appointment with their existing doctor or practitioner,” Mr Bartosch said.

“Patients are looking for a simple one-stop-shop, a platform that supports their appointments across a range of healthcare and allied health disciplines. The acquisitions will help us deliver on their needs and, with the GoBookings acquisition, will extend 1stAvailable’s presence into corporate and government bookings.”

Mr Bartosch said he estimated that less than three per cent of private healthcare providers in Australia currently take online bookings, but that this is changing fast.

“A year ago many practice managers we were in discussion with were telling us they were still thinking about whether or not to start taking online bookings,” he said. “Now increasingly the discussions we are having with practice managers are about what platform to go with and how to implement it for the benefit of both practices and consumers.”

He said the company had heavily invested in the look and feel of the 1stAvailable site for patients as well as in integrating with practice management systems.

“With the funds raised through the IPO, we will be better placed to market our services and sign up additional practices from across the healthcare spectrum,” he said.

The new, expanded 1stAvailable.com.au will go head to head with the dominant player in the market – HealthEngine, which is part owned by Telstra Health – as well as newer players like HotDoc, which has long-term contracts with Healthscope and IPN, and established players such as Appointuit and OzDocsOnline.

Other emerging players in the market are the practice management software vendors themselves. General practice PMS vendor MedicalDirector recently launched its own online appointments booking system and Zedmed plans to do the same.

A prospectus is available from the 1stAvailable website. Shares will be on offer for 35c, with a market capitalisation expected to be between $25 and $30 million.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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