How has your healthcare business been impacted through COVID-19?
The healthcare sector has probably had a more unique response to COVID-19. We'd like to hear your stories, how you've been impacted and what the next 3-6 months look like for your business.
For the rest of us in the community, it's a great opportunity for us to discuss how we can learn from these stories and apply them to our own industries and businesses.
I run one of Australia's most trusted promotional product suppliers, Cubic Promote, and we have a long background in providing products and services to the healthcare industry. However, as January transitioned into February and medical conferences/events started being cancelled, I was seized with concern. Our livelihood comes from providing marketing merchandise to government and private medical/healthcare/wellbeing organisations large and small. Not only was I concerned about how we'd survive with events cancelled across the country, but I was also worried for our clients and how they'd get through this challenging time.
It just so happened that a few weeks before things started getting serious, I had learned about thermal imaging cameras from a networking connection. These devices are used to detect fevers in patrons visiting places like Disneyland and international airports to help screen out anyone with a dangerous infection like COVID-19 or influenza. These cameras are used across the world but are relatively uncommon here in Australia. I knew I needed to bring these devices to Australia and get them in the hands of organisations/public spaces (particularly those related healthcare) for an affordable price.
I've started a new business, Ava Safe, and we are now beginning to provide cutting-edge thermal image cameras to Australian businesses. I see this not as a means to make money, but a way for organisations to do their bit for the community by taking preventative measures to stop the spread of deadly infections, both rare and seasonal. I encourage all other business owners to do the same and find a niche that helps your company pivot to survive while still managing to be thoughtful about community needs at this time.
So while this crisis has impacted our business considerably and my dedicated team of staff will remain working from home for the next few months, we are so thankful that we are able to continue to operate and provide items that may prove useful to those on the front line. My heart truly goes out to those putting themselves at risk every day for our community and I'm appreciative that we live in a country like Australia with healthcare teams and technology that are second-to-none.
Fired Up People is a new paediatric Occupational Therapy and Speech Pathology service which started in July 2019. Over the past eight months we had built to four clinicians and one rehabilitation specialist. In February 2020 we had reached the tipping point to business profitability and been able to add administration assistance to the team.
The COVID 19 virus has impacted the business in several ways both positively and negatively.
From a negative perspective I have had to temporarily stand down the admin until we can fully assess the decline in business which to date appears to be about 30%. I have to admit not having an admin and the drop in revenue are the only two negatives so far.
Positive things to come from this have been:
- The opportunities to communicate with our customers. We are in touch with the customers more and I truly believe they can see our commitment to them and their families.
- We have diversified into Telehealth. Customers have been receptive, and it now gives us a new product to offer our clients. Although it must be noted that OT & SP therapy is still best-done face to face and will have better outcomes in the long run in the face to face delivery method. We are confident that our face to face customers will return when this is over, but for the meantime some are reluctant to leave the house and if Telehealth does not suit or work for their child’s condition they are having to forgo therapy all together.
- We have ramped up our cleaning. Our office now gets cleaned after every visit and deep cleaned twice daily. You could eat your lunch off any surface in the Fired Up People clinic.
- We have moved rooms around. A couple of our rooms are small and whilst still comply to the square metre principals of the restrictions we have elected to only use the big rooms to allow people more space and protect the safety of the customer and the team.
- We have limited the brining of siblings to sessions. This is very positive because the session is now 100% on the customer and less interruptions by the siblings occur.
- We have reviewed our marketing which we have found important to maintain throughout this. We have upgraded it and incorporated the new services.
- The team now don’t stay in the office. As soon as their appointments are done they are gone and do some work from home. This has created a better balance.
- Despite not staying in the office we are closer – we have video meetings regularly and are working better together as a team.
Overall COVID 19 has produced more positives than negatives so far. Although the negatives are the ones you don’t want. Reducing staff and reducing revenue. So long as the government does not implement any more restrictions that require us to shutdown and/or one of the team does not get the virus requiring us to shut down we might just survive.
In actuality – this situation will be the making of us and we will come out the other side bigger, better, stronger and a more cohesive team.
Fired Up Group
I founded LINC Nutrition in 2019 as a way to 'link' the hospital nutrition services to those in the community. LINC also stands for Liz Isenring Nutrition Consulting. It's unique in that I'm a Professor of Nutrition and Dietetics with specilised expertise in nutrition and wellness. I was inspired to start the business after seeing two of my friends go through the cancer journey with very patchy nutrition supportive care. We also specialise in corporate nutrition and motiivating leaders to be healthy without the stress and burnout.
I had already started moving most of our services online as most patients and clients were keen for this rather than attending another clinic appointment. CO-VID 19 and the introduction of telehealth has meant that online consultations are even more acceptable.
The advantage is increased communication between our team and clients. The tropical Zoom backgrounds make for particularly interesting team meetings!
The challenge has mainly been around clients being nervous about spending money or commiting to a longer term wellness program which is starting to impact our revenue. We will manage and I hope an increased appreciation of the importance of health combined with more time to prioritise self care will help. We have tailored some nutrition and wellness programs specifically to the CO-VID19 pandemic and also to support those who have lost their jobs and want to work on their wellness and career plan so they come out stronger and healthier.
I believe the agility and flexibility we have demonstrated will keep us in good stead to support our clients during this challenging time and that many positives will come out of it. For LINC Nutrition these include online consultations and group and one-on-one nutrition and wellness programs to maximise health and wellbeing.
I am the owner and sole practitioner of an exercise physiology business in Western Sydney. I started Holistic Exercise Physiology in 2016, offering various services from medical centres and visiting homes, gyms and nursing homes.
Earlier this year, I decided to start our own exercise physiology clinic. Secured the location, signed the paperwork, paid the advance... then COVID19. Needless to say, that wasn't part of the plan.
Being the owner of a small business, COVID19 has had a significant impact on me and my business. The cancellations have increased, new referrals have decreased and there just aren't as many people walking past the clinic as we expected. I've also suspended all group programs, including the diabetes group class.
Fortunately, I've seen an increase in telehealth consultations (online consultation using video call). It's a service I've offered for years, but none of my clients seemed to be interested. And now, clients are very happy to hear about it. Yesterday I consulted an older client via telehealth. She was a bit anxious about the technology as it was her first online health consultation. She has been diagnosed with breast cancer one month ago and said she knows she needs exercise, but didn't know where to begin. To see her performing the exercises which I had demonstrated with a big smile and to see her grow in confidence was a very rewarding experience.
It's hard to say exactly what the next 3-6 months look like. It's clear that innovation in business is no longer a choice but a necessity. Based on last week, I would say we will be doing a lot more telehealth consultations and finding new ways to serve our current and new clients in the virtual environment.
Holistic Exercise Physiology