In 2005, Apollo Medical Centre was a newly merged group of six small general practices that combined to deliver a more innovative form of patient care. Based on Auckland’s North Shore, it’s now a 55-strong company offering a comprehensive range of general practice, and accident and medical services. these range from acute injury and accident management, including fracture care, to managing cardiovascular disease, diabetes and asthma, as well as family and sports medicine, and minor surgery.
“General practice was very traditional in the way it delivered primary care,” says CEO Eveline Beaumont. “Apollo is a patient-centred model. We’re about maintaining good health and wellness and wrapping services around the patient. The Minister of Health is asking for better, sooner, more convenient healthcare, and that’s what we offer: extended hours, qualified staff and a comprehensive range of services in one location.”
Three years ago Eveline sought the help of Hayes Knight Business Advisory director Tristan Dean. The company had grown so rapidly in terms of its services and staff numbers, that she felt some professional financial advice would enhance its governance and management performance.
“Eveline initially called us in to get the accounting functions up to date,” says Tristan. “From there our role gradually expanded as we became more involved. In the early days we developed a valuation formula for the business that would apply for incoming and exiting shareholders and helped develop a shareholders’ agreement. This ensured there was a clear procedure so that the business could always deal with the financial aspects of a shareholder exiting."
“We have a corporate structure, with a board, managers, doctors, nurses and admin staff,” explains Eveline. “We’ve developed this further by building our infrastructure to support our rapid growth. We’ve recently included a new level of management in the company to support clinical and non- clinical staff.”
The board of Apollo (on which Tristan sits in a financial and business advisory capacity) spent most of 2009 establishing a strategic plan for the company, and reviewing its current position and future goals. this is now in the early implementation phase.
“We’ve put some fundamentals in place to improve the infrastructure,” says Eveline, “and put rigor around our governance. We’re concentrating on developing our staff – who are extremely important – expanding our services and working hard to provide the best care for our patients.”
Another aspect has involved purchasing a piece of land adjacent to the centre with a view to developing it. Other company goals include service excellence, organic growth by providing more patient services and the potential for private/ public partnerships with government organisations.
“We’d like to build our current success with the other health services within the building, and integrate them more into what Apollo’s offering. the patients can visit a specialist, go to the gym, see a nutritionist, an optometrist, physiotherapist, podiatrist, psychologist or dentist.”
While it’s still early days, the company is looking at creating a succession plan for GPs as they retire. Many of the doctors want a better lifestyle, and the ability to eventually hand over their patients while still holding shares in the company they’d helped build.
“Creating Apollo has achieved a better work/life balance for all the GPs,” says Eveline. “A sole practitioner has a large burden to meet patient demand. After working 8- to 10-hour days, they also have night and weekend call-outs. At Apollo, the GPs work a set number of hours and aren’t on call in the evenings, so they have more leisure time. Weekend and after- hours work is rotated among the 17 GPs.”
Hayes Knight has been helping Apollo with its financial projections and forecasts, and to obtain funding for ongoing expansion. part of that involved facilitating the relationship between Apollo Health and its new bank, Westpac.
“Financially, the company’s growth has been relatively self funding because of how the business model works,” explains Tristan. “Systems and procedures have expanded and the financial reporting has had to evolve to provide the board with meaningful information. We continually revise the reporting as the business develops, showing data graphically and reporting on patient trends as well as the numbers.
“For a medical practice, the main asset is goodwill rather than something tangible, which can be a barrier to getting funding. But when significant funding was required, i talked with two major banks, reviewed their proposals, and led Eveline and the board in finalising the negotiations.”
The business has now matured and it’s time to review the shareholders agreement and prepare for the next growth phase, says Tristan. Hayes Knight will assist Apollo with a marketing plan to promote its services more actively.
“It’s been really important for us to have independent financial advice – especially in terms of achieving balance and an understanding of the wider commercial market,” says Eveline. “We’re driving the strategic direction and vision, but we need good guidance along the way. Hayes Knight has given us sound advice around what we’re doing.”
This story originally appeared in Beyond the Numbers, issue three.
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