A lifelong interest in making healthcare more responsive to patients led Dr Paul Tescher and Ms Chantelle Brott to build a unique practice.
From the moment you walk through the doors of HealthMint in the City of Casey, one of Melbourne’s busiest residential growth corridors, you can see the differences from other practices. A row of tablets for patient self check-in; a distinct absence of cubbyhole-style reception desks or barriers; and a mobile receptionist who is more like a concierge, chatting to patients in the spacious yet homely waiting area, which is amply stocked with toys and magazines. The office is close to paperless, and everything runs on time.
This bright, modern, architect-designed practice is the singular vision of owners Dr Paul Tescher and Ms Chantelle Brott, who profess a lifelong interest in improving healthcare in Australia.
The vision for HealthMint
Dr Tescher is a General Practitioner with well-refined business and technical smarts. A rotation with the improvement team at the Royal Melbourne Hospital allowed him to flex his analytical skills, identifying improvements in the way things were done and providing recommendations on what could be done better. The experience was great training for what was to come.
“Many clinicians see helping people as what they do in the face-to-face appointment,” says Dr Tescher. “And while that’s definitely a very important part of it, we also see it as only one element of the person’s interaction with the health system, and all the things surrounding a consultation. Patients might choose to put off going to the doctor because of these elements.
“It’s everything surrounding the face-to-face appointment—what’s it like trying to book an appointment, coming into the space, waiting, and leaving at the end of it? How are patients treated, how do they feel about the space and the environment?”
Bursting to begin
During his time at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Dr Tescher met like-minded, legally trained Ms Brott. The couple discussed the shortcomings of the healthcare system at length, and pondered what they would do if they had the chance to open their own practice. Over time, their ideas evolved into written plans and strategies for their own business.
“Chantelle and I had many intense conversations about the pros and cons of starting our own practice,” says Dr Tescher. “The week before my final exams I was more interested in putting together a business plan for our future clinic than preparing for my exams.”
Ms Brott adds: “We started seeking out as much information as we possibly could—on starting a business, innovation, operating a private practice, writing a business plan, creating financial forecasts and so on.”
On one of these knowledge-seeking expeditions, Ms Brott and Dr Tescher met BOQ Specialist's Trevor Knowles, at a seminar about starting a practice. “When I explained that I wasn’t actually a doctor, but a law/science student, he did a very good job of keeping a straight face, and not abandoning ship right then and there,” recalls Ms Brott.
“Trevor kept the conversation flowing, and took me seriously when I explained that my partner—who wasn't yet fellowed—and I were going to change healthcare in Australia. From then on, we remained in contact, and reached out to Trevor on a regular basis, putting different scenarios to him, and questioning him on ways we could structure loans and finance.”
The learning curve
As a young couple without children or existing financial obligations, such as a home mortgage, Ms Brott and Dr Tescher were in a strong position to make the leap necessary to start their practice—not only financially, but also in terms of the hours they were able to invest in designing systems and processes.
Ms Brott, who is a driving force behind the practice’s ethos and business model, was still a student at Monash University when the couple’s dream practice was finally being fitted out. She credits her negotiating skills, honed during her law degree, with being an important factor in her business success.
But the couple admits that, at times, it was a huge learning curve, requiring them to go way beyond their respective tertiary training.
“We had a list of things we didn’t yet know how to do, and we set about finding out how to do them,” says Dr Tescher. This included configuring and installing the clinic’s unique tablet-driven software systems in house—quite an achievement—and employing a team of staff who clearly subscribe to the vision.
A creative approach
The couple researched locations, and decided to set up in Cranbourne, an outer suburb in the midst of a housing construction boom. “We looked at growth areas and demographics. We knew that what we wanted to do was risky in that it was going to be very tech−enabled and quite different to what is currently here,” says Ms Brott. “So we wanted people who were likely to adopt it, mainly young families, and Cranbourne is booming.”
Dr Tescher and Ms Brott discovered from their patients that there was a dearth of quality and experience, relative to the growing population. “Some doctors get into a cycle of bulk-billing everyone for everything,” says Dr Tescher. “Patients say that their doctors aren’t listening, or that they ‘saw me for a couple of minutes and said something very basic and that was it’.”
“We’re both creative people and we’re both brave in the sense that if we see something around us that doesn’t look quite right we consider what would make it look right to us and whether we can do something about it,” Ms Brott says. “What drives us is pushing boundaries and looking at things from different perspectives. That’s what allows us to look at an entire industry and see what’s wrong with it, and how it can achieve its potential.”
The practice of the future
Ms Brott and Dr Tescher are adamant that HealthMint is the way of the future. “Our model attracts patients who value their healthcare and value the fact that a doctor is willing to sit and hear them and not treat them like a number. It attracts reception staff who treat patients with respect, and it attracts doctors who want to deliver high-quality care and services and don’t want to rush through consultations. I’m excited to come in here every day, and I’m confident everyone else is too.”
Thinking about starting a practice? Click on the link to find out more about our tailored financial solutions for setting up a 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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