A network of clinics that streamlines the way primary care is being delivered, Qualitas offers the best
Our primary care has always been a fragmented sector of the overall healthcare. Doctors open up their practice to cater to a specific residential area.
The business model might be fine 20 years ago, when all that was involved was consultation, medicine, and cash payment.
Now, however, factors such as corporatisation, insurance, third-party administrators, and health maintenance organisations have complicated the payment process.
The documentation process also became much more complex, as doctors need to have detailed information of their patients’ insurance details and so on and so forth.
That was what Datuk Dr Noorul Ameen Mohamed Ishack saw and tried to make easier when he founded Qualitas Medical Group.
Together in primary care
“Many doctors were having problem complying with the payment and documentation mechanism, as they weren’t trained and did not have the skilledstaff to do these administrative work,” says Dr Noorul.
Dr Noorul, also the Chairman and Managing Director for Qualitas, proposed a model to streamline the process for the doctors.
“It was being talked about a lot during the time, to make primary care more organised. But no one really took the dive into it.”
He was able to bring big groups of physicians together to find a way to make things more organised, professionally.
“Imagine a clinic that has one or two doctors attached to it. The only other staff that they would have are nurses and perhaps an administrative staff. I say, why not we gather our resources and have a professional team to handle all the back-end processes. They include accounting, marketing, inventory management, and acquisition of medicines.”
The idea is to have the administrative work done professionally by a dedicated team, and have the doctors to only focus on delivery of care.
“We started Qualitas Medical Group in 1997. Then, we quickly started to offer our solution to other physicians to have their clinics managed professionally so that they can focus on seeing and treating their patients.”
There was a lot of positive response, and the business grew through acquiring various clinics along with the physicians to be under the Qualitas umbrella.
“It is safe to say we are the largest network of clinics in Malaysia today.”
In 2002, the group found there was only so much that can be expanded here in Malaysia. With ample market research and study, Qualitas made a move to India to set up a more organised primary care in the country.
Subsequently, Qualitas also expanded to Singapore.
“After India and Singapore, we actually made our way to New Zealand. The reception towards our business model was so popular there, that we were the largest network of clinics in the country at one point in time.”
The more recent of their expansion took them to Australia, where they opened their doors in three states down under: New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria.
“Now, we are looking to expand more into the ASEAN countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia, and Indonesia, among others.”
The ever-present hurdles
From the set of paragraphs above, it seems like Qualitas was met with very few challenges as they continued their expansion into foreign territories. Dr Noorul said however, the challenges were always there for them to overcome.
“There has been an increased number of third-party organisations handling the patients’ payment process. To adhere to each of their terms and regulations is generally a challenge.”
There is also the factor of governance, whereby Qualitas must adhere to each respective country’s policies on operating primary care clinics.
“However, the biggest challenge faced by Qualitas is perhaps to get doctors to be part of the network od clinics. These doctors are highly intelligent individuals, and it can be difficult for them to change their ways.”
Malaysian-born and bred
Qualitas Medical Group is a company started by Malaysians, grew in Malaysia, and is now a significant force in primary care in Australia and New Zealand. How were they able to achieve that?
“I have been working with the administrative professionals of Qualitas for more than 20 years. They are highly knowledgeable and capable to make things work, regardless of where we try to open our doors in. I believe it is the level of expertise we have in the organisation that makes us what we are now.” — The Health
Imagine a clinic that has one or two doctors attached to it. The only other staff that they would have are nurses and perhaps an administrative staff. I say, why not we gather our resources and have a professional team to handle all the back-end processes. They include accounting, marketing, inventory management, and acquisition of medicines.”