CORAL GABLES, FL / ACCESSWIRE / November 13,2018/ Whether investors follow the mantra, "the trend is our friend," or "follow the money," events taking place within the healthcare sector could be raising eyebrows right now. Eighty-three percent of healthcare organizations responding to an American Telemedicine Association* poll said they are highly likely to invest in telehealth with operational efficiency and convenience in mind.
Of the 171 healthcare executives participating in the annual ATA Executive Leadership Survey, 88% of those who are likely to purchase telehealth tools are planning to do so. Even more interesting is that just one percent of respondents said an investment in telehealth technology was not in their future at all.
"This executive leadership survey confirms undeniably today's leaders view telemedicine as a major driver in transforming healthcare," said Jonathan Linkous, CEO, American Telemedicine Association. "It comes as no surprise that 98% of survey respondents believe telehealth services create a competitive advantage, and I anticipate tremendous growth in the market as we continue to move toward more patient-centered solutions."
Companies that are attracting investor interest across North America that are taking advantage of these newest developments include Premier Health Group, Inc. (PHGRF) (PHGI), CVS Health (CVS), ReShape Lifesciences Inc. (RSLS) and EyeGate Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (EYEG).
Premier Health Group, Inc. (PHGRF) (PHGI) has recently taken a stance on new growth opportunities in the healthcare market. The facts are that the Canadian retail pharmacy market is estimated to be $44 billion (Source:IBISWorld). It is expected the industry sector will continue to allow for favorable economics for pharmacy operators as baby boomer's demand increases for prescriptions andoperatorsexpandscopeof practice to include preventative services.
In light of this opportunity, Premier Health Group, Inc. (PHGRF) (PHGI) announced this month that as a part of its expansion plans it will be entering the Pharmacy market "via acquisition and/or launching a new Canada based pharmacy in H1-2019." With Premier's acquisition of HealthVue Medical Clinics in August, this could be the next phase of growth for the company. Premier Health Group, Inc. (PHGRF) (PHGI) said that it expects to provide additional updates on acquisitions in Q4-18 and Q1-19 so this could be one of the near-term events to consider when looking at Premier Health Group, Inc. (PHGRF) (PHGI).
Premier Health Group, Inc. (PHGRF) (PHGI) is focused on developing innovative approaches that combine human skill-based expertise with emerging technologies for the healthcare industry. The company has recently seen market activity that is higher than average and could be attributed to the company's most recent announcements. To this end, the company has also begun to build out its technology framework to continue the expansion of its HealthVue subsidiary. Premier Health Group, Inc. (PHGRF) (PHGI) announced that it has selected Reliq Health Technologies Inc. as its exclusive technology partner. Reliq will be providing Premier's subsidiary, HealthVue, primary care clinics with a HealthVue-branded telemedicine, remote monitoring & AI solution for its clinical staff and more than 100,000 active patients.
CVS Health (CVS) has also identified the opportunity that the advancements in healthcare technology have created within the market. The company's retail medical clinic, MinuteClinic has started to roll out a virtual healthcare offering. Similar to Premier Health, users can seek care through the MinuteClinic Video visit for things like minor injuries, cold, flu, etc.
In the company's most recent earnings call, Cowen and Company Analyst James Auh asked, "Can you talk about how Teladoc affects your clinical strategy and when we should expect a full-blown rollout?"
CVS President Larry J. Merlo explained the focus on telehealth technology specifically in stating, "As you mentioned, we've been rolling it out state-by-state. There are some state processes that we're going through to turn them on and once we get more of a critical mass, we will begin broader marketing of that. As you look at the complementary strategy to the clinics, it has the opportunity to expand our reach as well as expand our scope of practice. And those are the use cases that we've been piloting."
CVS has leveraged the technology platform from another health technology company, Teladoc (TDOC) to offer this service through the CVS Pharmacy app. The video visit costs $59 and according to CVS, insurance coverage will be added in the coming months. The service is now available in 16 states including Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermontand Virginiaas well as Washington D.C.
ReShape Lifesciences Inc. (RSLS) is a developer of minimally invasive medical devices to treat obesity and metabolic diseases. On November 7,2018the company conducted an investigator meeting in conjunction with the trial in the European Union to support CE Marking of the ReShape Vest™. The investigator meeting took place in Frankfurt, Germany and was intended to further establish relationships with the study team and to prepare investigators for the upcoming clinical trial for the ReShape Vest.
"I am glad to have participated in the well-attended European investigators meeting to discuss the European study of the novel Reshape Vest," stated Professor Martin Fried, MD,PhD, Head of OB Klinka Center for Treatment of Obesity and Metabolic Disorders in Prague, Czech Republic. "The early Gastric Vest clinical study from Mexico is very promising and we are excited about the outcomes. We look forward to starting the study in 2019 in the Czech Republic."
The FDA-approved ReShape Balloon™ System involves a non-surgical weight loss procedure that uses advanced balloon technology designed to take up room in the stomach to help people with a 30-40 kg/m2 Body Mass Index (BMI) and at least one co-morbidity lose weight.
Shares of ReShape pulled in to lows of $1.61 on Monday but have since moved up as high as $2.79 on Tuesday morning.
EyeGate Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (EYEG) is another popular healthcare stock to watch on Tuesday. The company is a clinical-stage specialty pharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing products using its two proprietary platform technologies for treating diseases and disorders of the eye. On Tuesday, EyeGate announced top-line data from its study evaluating the potential of EyeGate's Ocular Bandage Gel (OBG) to help clinicians better manage patients with punctate epitheliopathies (PE) due to pathologies such as dry eye.
Randall J Olson, M.D., CEO and Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences of the John A. Moran Eye Center, University of Utah, SLC, said, "A product that achieves symptomology results as seen in this study is exactly what ophthalmologists want access to when treating patients. With the wound healing results demonstrated in the two PRK studies along with these results, there is potentially a huge opportunity for using OBG in the management of various ocular surface conditions."
Shares hit highs of $0.581, which is a level that the stock hasn't seen since the summer.
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*American Telemedicine Report: https://thesource.americantelemed.org/blogs/jessica-washington/2017/04/06/ata-leadership-survey-patient-centered-healthcare-and-ehr-interoperability-cited-by-executives-as-top-advancements-in-telemedicine