The Most Influential CEO in Health: Hamed Shahbazi

CEO of WELL Health Technologies, Hamed Shahbazi, is taking a page out of Warren Buffett’s book with his latest venture into the healthcare industry. If there has ever been a time for innovation in the health space it has been the past year, where the world has needed to adapt to a difficult reality.

In this new normal, strong digital capabilities have been imperative to the success and survival of any company hoping to thrive. Hamed Shahbazi has managed to strike through both of these key areas of focus with WELL, a digital first multi-channel healthcare company at the forefront of the telehealth revolution. We had a chance to speak with him today to discuss WELL and the future of healthcare.

Tell us a bit about what you’ve been doing at WELL, what is your mission as a company and how are you working to make it happen?

“WELL’s overarching mission as a company has been to help digitize and modernize healthcare. A big part of that mission has been to provide tools and enablement to healthcare practitioners in order to better position them to provide the best care possible for their patients and obtain the best health outcomes possible.”

How has the pandemic impacted your operations as a company?

“WELL’s tools and mission were put to the test during the pandemic and they passed with flying colours. Over weeks and months WELL became one of the top telehealth companies in Canada and we have since expanded into the US. What is interesting about WELL though, is that we do so much more than telehealth”

Shahbazi is not kidding when he says this, in fact, WELL completed 14 acquisitions in 2020 and is continuing this trend in 2021 with CRH Medical, ExecHealth, and AdraCare among others. This streak has helped establish WELL as one of the leading names not just in telehealth but in a diverse range of other healthcare services.

In fact Shahbazi was just recognized as a finalist for the prestigious Bloom Burton award which honours an individual who made the greatest contribution to Canada’s innovative healthcare industry in the previous year.  Another finalist side by side Shahbazi is Carl Hansen, Founder and CEO of Peter Thiel backed Abcellera.

WELL’s new partnerships have clearly strengthened its balance sheet. On a proforma basis, based on analyst expectations, WELL is now approaching C$300M in revenues with over 25% EBITDA margins and 18% free cash flow margins.

JP Morgan, the number one bank in the US that banks its vast healthcare sector recently upsized its credit line for CRH Medical to US$300M which is an incredible testament to the strength of CRH’s cashflow generation capabilities.

While these numbers have caught the attention of investors around the world, some have questioned if this growth can continue. This past week, WELL Health was the subject of a short report published by an anonymous author from a group that calls itself Grizzly Research.

However, this report was considered a complete failure at best as the stock closed up 10% the following Monday and was quickly followed by an outpour of analysts debunking the claims. Financial services firm Desjardins was among those coming to WELL’s defense as they encouraged investors to read the short report with caution and reinforced their “Buy” rating and price target of $10.50 per share.

Undoubtedly, both sides can agree on WELL’s impressive performance so far. This year the company was one of the top performers on the Toronto Stock Exchange and Shahbazi makes it clear he has no plans to slow down.

“We have a very large pipeline with several hundred potential acquisition and investment opportunities – consisting of both clinical and digital assets. At any time, we generally have anywhere between six to twelve signed Letters of Intent (LOI) with new acquisition target companies. Our shareholders should rest assured that WELL’s management will continue to take a highly disciplined approach to due diligence, evaluating and executing on capital allocation opportunities.

We are really looking forward to 2021. We are expecting both organic and inorganic growth this year. We are currently sitting on more than $60M in cash which we hope to deploy this year in making highly accretive acquisitions. We believe we are just at the beginning of this virtuous cycle or positive “flywheel” effect. Things are about to get interesting and really compelling with the WELL Health story.”

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