TalkMed feeling pain of fewer patient visits

A fall in patient visits caused some pain in the bottom line at healthcare provider TalkMed Group, whose boss and main revenue contributor was suspended last year.

Net profit at the Catalist-listed firm fell 19.3 per cent to $8.24 million in the fourth quarter compared with the same period a year earlier. Revenue for the three months to Dec 31 was down 17.6 per cent to $15.15 million, the group announced yesterday after markets closed.

Full-year turnover declined 11 per cent to $61.36 million, leading to a 14.3 per cent drop in earnings to $32.04 million.

The fall in revenue for both the final quarter and full year was attributed mainly to a decrease in the number of patient visits, said the group, which provides healthcare services in the fields of medical oncology and palliative care.

While revenue from its 60 per cent owned subsidiary, Stem Med, increased by $1.29 million for the year, turnover from its operations in Vietnam fell by $160,000 from $240,000 a year earlier.

Earnings per share for the quarter was 0.63 cent, down from 0.78 cent a year earlier, while net asset value per share was 5.5 cents, down from 4.4 cents as of Dec 31.

TalkMed is facing pressure from competition arising from lower medical costs in neighbouring countries.​

  • AT A GLANCE

  • REVENUE: $61.4 million (-11%)

    NET PROFIT: $32 million (-14.3%)

    DIVIDEND PER SHARE: 1.37 cents (-40%)

It has also been hit by chief executive Ang Peng Tiam's eight-month suspension from the end of July last year. A prominent cancer specialist, he accounted for 40 per cent to 50 per cent of TalkMed's revenue.

In 2010, two daughters of a former patient who had lung cancer made a complaint against Dr Ang.

The Singapore Medical Council's (SMC) disciplinary tribunal found him guilty of making false representation to the patient that there was a "70 per cent" chance of responding to the treatment, and of failing to offer her surgery as an option.

Dr Ang was suspended by the SMC after a failed appeal against a conviction of professional misconduct and a $25,000 fine.

TalkMed has recommended a final one-tier tax-exempt dividend of 1.37 cents per share, down from 2.283 cents per share last year.

The proposed final dividend will be paid out on May 9.

TalkMed shares closed up 0.5 cent at 68 cents yesterday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 22, 2018, with the headline 'TalkMed feeling pain of fewer patient visits'. Print Edition | Subscribe