Success story: Dr Brian Todd on starting a regional practice

Ophthalmologist Dr Brian Todd returned to Far North Queensland to open a new practice and ensure regional Australians get the best optical care available.

 5.5 minutes


An abiding interest in providing specialist care to individuals in rural and remote Australia took Bowen boy Brian Todd back to north Queensland, upon completion of his ophthalmological studies at the University of Queensland and in Birmingham, England. Last year saw Dr Todd take the next step in his mission to help the people of far North Queensland by opening a state-of-the-art facility near the Cairns CBD.

For the past 14 years, he’s been based in Cairns, servicing patients from as far afield as Cape York, the Gulf country and Papua New Guinea, in both public and private practice.

By necessity a generalist, he’s amassed experience dealing with a gamut of conditions from cataracts, glaucoma and lid tumours to complications of medical conditions such as diabetes.

“My original motivation for returning ‘home’ was to help the indigenous community in the far north,” Dr Todd says. “Specialists in Australia are largely concentrated in metropolitan areas. There are so few of us in regional and rural Australia—not just for the indigenous community but for the population as a whole. Medical professionals are thin on the ground and specialists even more so.”

Location, location

July 2017 saw Dr Todd exit a three-man partnership and open Cairns Eye Surgery, in a renovated heritage house in the city fringe district of Edge Hill.

He also operates a fully equipped satellite clinic at the Atherton Hospital Facility on the Atherton Tablelands, around 90 minutes away.

“The three of us decided it was time to go our own ways,” Dr Todd says.

Location was a key factor in his decision to move to his new premises, which in a previous incarnation housed a restaurant and reception centre.

“It’s a good central location, there’s lots of car parking, it’s a friendly area, with a great streetscape for walking around—it has the same sort of vibe as somewhere like Paddington in Brisbane,” Dr Todd says.

“Many of our patients have to travel long distances—a two or three-hour drive is not uncommon—and if they’re elderly, it’s often the family that brings them. “It was important we had a nice location where it was easy to park and a pleasant place for them to spend time.”

Buying through super

Dr Todd arranged finance from BOQ Specialist in early 2017 to purchase and renovate the building via his self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF). Buying his own premises made it possible to create a series of 14 rooms where equipment can be accommodated, minor surgery performed and patients seen comfortably by Dr Todd and his team.

A BOQ Specialist chattel mortgage was utilised to fund the acquisition of around 100 pieces of office and medical equipment.

Investment in the latter is a necessity, substantial and ongoing.

“Ophthalmology requires technology for the best results; a lot of equipment can be involved in the assessment and diagnosis of eye disease and every couple of years that equipment needs to be upgraded, if you’re to offer the best service to patients,” Dr Todd says.

Making it easy

Responsive service from the BOQ Specialist team helped prevent hold-ups and made overseeing such a major construction project less fraught. “We looked around in early 2017 and BOQ Specialist had the best rates at the time,” Dr Todd says.

“They were very competitive, and I’d heard good feedback about their service, from medical colleagues who’d taken out finance through them.

“They did a lot to make the process smooth. Our financial specialist Colin Taylor travelled up here twice and helped get the funds approved very quickly. He was also helpful about working with my accountants and advisers to make sure everything was structured correctly.

Several months on from the move, Dr Todd has plans to expand his practice, with the establishment of a dry eye clinic.

“Now we’ve settled in our new location, we’re looking at increasing outpatient numbers and adding new services to help the north Queensland community,” he says.

 

Thinking about starting or growing a practice? Click on the link to find out more about our tailored financial solutions for setting up your own practice. Ready to take the next step? Contact us to find out how we can tailor a practice finance solution for you, or call us on 1300 131 141.

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