Patient-focused

For Cardiologist Dr Andrew Hamilton, running a successful business is all about putting the patient first.

  3 minutes
 


For much of his career, cardiologist Dr Andrew Hamilton has wanted to run his own business. “I’ve been running or working for other people's businesses for years, and I got to that point in my life where I wanted to build something from scratch, using all the skills I’ve developed.”

He had a very clear vision of what he wanted to do. “I wanted to start the process of putting the focus back on the patient,” he says. “Making sure the patient's information was handled securely and efficiently—getting to the point where the information flow back to the patient's referring physician, and even to the patient themselves, was so efficient it was eye-watering. Because I think this is the way medicine is heading, where service delivery and the patient experience becomes the focus.”

The business he envisioned was Nightingale Cardiology, which had two components. On one side it would offer practice management services to cardiologists starting up, and on the other, use the latest communication technology to connect patients with their specialists and GPs. He opened the doors to Nightingale Cardiology on 1 March this year. “And then around 10 March, I started taking the chairs out of the waiting room,” he recalls. “My business manager asked, ‘What are you doing?’ And I said, ‘We’re going to be doing this thing called social distancing’. She said, ‘What's that?’”

Dr Hamilton could be forgiven for doing no more than keeping the doors open during the pandemic. “Then to try and grow it within COVID, which we did, was nothing short of miraculous,” he says.

Following his heart

Prior to this, Dr Hamilton’s career bounced back and forth between Adelaide (where he had initially studied) and the US—finishing his PhD and advanced training fellowship in cardiovascular imaging and echocardiography at Northwestern University in Chicago. After returning to Adelaide to get married, he travelled back to the US. Dr Hamilton returned to Adelaide in 2009 to work at the Flinders Medical Centre, then arrived at the point where he wanted to set out on his own. His desire for patient-centred care grew out of his experiences here and overseas. “The delivery of medical services is generated by physicians, from one physician to another, or a GP to a physician in order to deliver patient care. I think it’s very slow and old-fashioned and that it needs to fundamentally change,” he says. “Over the next 10 years, that will occur. We're starting to see that with the digital health agencies springing up in Australia and around the world. They enable the patient to not only access their health record, but also the potential to use lots of technology to make sure their GP and specialists can communicate quickly and coordinate treatments in a very efficient way.”

Aiming for state-of-the-art

Part of Dr Hamilton’s plan to help patients in this way involves also helping their specialists. “Our aim is cardiologists can come to Nightingale and we will provide them with everything they need to set up as a business,” Dr Hamilton explains. “We will give them a brand, online presence and digital marketing. We'll give them an electronic medical record, rooms, light and heat, a fully integrated accounting system and a very sophisticated Medicare billing system. All electronic, all at the lowest cost and the highest efficiency. Funding the vision was always going to be through Darren Tomlinson and BOQ Specialist. “They’re the natural people to go to because they deal with equipment finance in this space, particularly when you’re looking at a lot of technology finance,” says Dr Hamilton. The certainty that relationship offered frees-up Dr Hamilton to think about the future of medicine in the digital space. And it’s a future he’s looking forward to.
 

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