Guest: Errol Lim
Presenter: Wayne Bucklar
Guest Bio: Errol is the managing director and co-founder of BJC Health. He leads a team focused on delivering the vision of best care for people living with arthritis. His drive and ambition started as a small clinic owner and his passion now lies in creating a service that embraces an integrated approach to health care. Errol has been a physiotherapist since 1998. He has had a special interest in sports physiotherapy throughout his career, having been a physiotherapist for local rugby teams as well as at international level, travelling as part of the Australian medical team to 5 World University Games from 2003 (Korea) to 2011 (China).
Segment overview: In today’s Health Supplier Segment, BJC Health Managing Director Errol Lim joins us to share valuable information about the services they provide. Errol started to have a specific interest in inflammatory disease when he commenced work with rheumatologists in 2004 to the extent that he now works with over 30 practitioners that include rheumatologists, physiotherapists, exercise physiologists, dietitians and massage therapists in order to deliver “connected care” for arthritic patients. Their specialists and allied health professionals work together to ensure that your diagnosis is thorough and that related conditions are also looked after.
Health Professional Radio
Wayne Bucklar: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio. My name is Wayne Bucklar and today my guest is Errol Lim Managing Director of BJC Health. BJC Health is the bone and joint clinic. Errol welcome to Health Professional Radio.
Errol Lim: Yeah and I thank you very much Wayne, lovely to be here.
W: Now Errol just to start so we can narrow you down geographically so to speak, you’re a Sydney based clinic?
E: Yes, that is correct. We’ve got three clinics in Sydney – one on the North Shore, one out in Western Parramatta, and another in Brookvale. So we are quite fairly spread out but we hit a few corners at Sydney.
W: Now I understand that you target musculoskeletal disease. Why is the Bone and Joint Clinic different to your run of the mill specialists in these areas?
E: Yes, so musculoskeletal is our specialty but specifically more is that it’s anything arthritic. And we have seven rheumatologists working in at BJC around the three clinics and so we’re close to I think being one of the biggest sort of rheumatology clinics in New South Wales. And so we pretty much have to know everything arthritis or inflammatory in disease, so that’s our I guess that you could say our USP and that’s what we hope to be known for.
W: An inflammation, inflammatory diseases is one of those sort of categories of this an army of chronic disease we keep hearing about.
E: Yes, definitely.
W: What’s your experience with that? Is it a common and growing problem?
E: This firstly in terms of musculoskeletal diseases as a whole back in 2010, the World Health Organization pointed out that musculoskeletal disease is the greatest burden on disease. It took over cancers as a whole. And of that, osteoarthritis makes a huge percentage of MSK and also low back pain and where inflammatory disease comes into place at osteoarthritis is very much something that the rheumatologists see a lot. And when it comes to back pain, inflammatory back pain is actually a decent amount of back pain anywhere up to five percent and unfortunately a lot of these patients with inflammatory disease are misdiagnosed by various practitioners and only because it’s so difficult to diagnose and something like Ankylosing Spondylitis has a diagnosis rate up to 10 years in this country. And so we feel that it’s something that health practitioners need to be educated about and of course the general public and so we feel that creating clinics such as ours where we concentrate on these inflammatory diseases are important, only because they don’t really exist.
W: That’s an interesting way of putting it though, ‘because they don’t really exist.’ I understand entirely what you mean.
W: My guest today is Errol Lim, director of the Bone and Joint Clinic and we’ve been talking about what makes them a little different. Now Errol you promote “connected care” heavily, explain that concept to us.
E: Yes. We started on this journey a good 10 to 12 years ago and we feel that healthcare generally requires an integrated service, so there’s not one practitioner that can really in a sense fix a patient, you’d be lucky if that happens. As you well know, even in any industry, but definitely in healthcare requires a whole team approach. And so trying to put this team together had been very challenging and difficult in times, and so we’ve coined this term “connected care” where we feel that everyone needs to be on the same page. Everyone working together needs to like each other and have comfort in each other, so that we actually get the best patient outcomes that we can.
W: Uh huh.
E: And the challenge really is getting health professionals to talk to each other and worth with each other is not the easiest thing, and I’m sure you heard that before in the past.
W: (chuckles) This is true. It is an extraordinary industry – the health industry. It’s one of those industries that hasn’t gone through the great industrial reconstruction in the 1960’s and so it is in some ways still very fragmented and disconnected. And in other ways, across it’s very homogenous and similar so it’s an interesting industry. One day someone will write a PhD about it or something I imagine.
E: Yeah, definitely. And the words you use you know fragmented, you can chuck in siloed in, you must hear that all the time on the public hospital system. They learn when clinicians go out in private practice and in a sense want to earn money and have the pressures of business, then try to work together and putting extra time into developing relationships so that we can foster greater patient care is such an added pleasure.
W: Yes. And it is extraordinary how in my work I find that siloing to be dramatic in hospitals. One floor of a hospital will have very little insight into what’s happening on the floor above or below them. It’s really quite surprising.
E: Yes. And that same thing will occur in primary care and in the private system. We spend a lot of time on internal communication and even then it keep coming up as an agenda item “How can we improve communication between our practitioners, our administrators, and reception staff so that everyone on the same page?” And that requires good systems and processes in place and we’re 45 people strong in our organization.
E: Butt even then we have same issues as anywhere else. We just kind of feel because we get no funding what so ever and everything we generate is set through patient billings. But we have to spend a lot more into trying to create this integrated culture.
W: I can believe that, 45 is a big clinic.
E: Yeah, I mean spread out over the three locations.
W: Uh huh.
E: But yes we’re growing. But we’ve also halted our growth in order to try to make sure our quality of care is kept at the highest standards and we measure patient outcome and so forth but it’s difficult to do without any public funding.
W: Now Errol, what is the take away message for clinicians in the acute care sector? Because most of our listeners are in hospital settings, what’s the message you’d like them to hear from you today?
E: Really, I think that both public and private sectors have to work together. And I think both programs already exist and I’ve been involved with some programs in New South Wales where successful programs that would divert in the public system being trialed in the public and the private system.
W: Uh huh.
E: And because as we all know, governments don’t have bucket loads of money, and there’s less and less money going to health. And so the public hospital system can’t really cope and so we need to utilize resources in the private sector and then many practitioners out in the private sector that, at times don’t have enough work. And so if we develop programs or ways to work together and I think we can go somewhat of a way to helping the issues that we have in health at the moment.
W: My guest today on Health Professional Radio is Errol Lim, the director with the Bone and Joint Clinic in Sydney, Australia. Errol my favorite question of every interview, in every industry there are misconceptions. What are the biggest misconceptions amongst your colleagues, clients, and patients that drive you nuts and keep you awake at night?
E: (laugh) I certainly if I can start with potentially in my colleagues and some people say I’m a little bit unfair with doctors and even with medical specialists. They come from traditional form of education back in the hospital system … and so they were practicing meds in a way their bosses and their bosses before them practice. And unfortunately in a changing market place where customer expectations are so much higher and the need for relationship building is essential in selling a service, because we are in a sense selling a service.
E: And whenever they start working in BJC, it’s kind of breaking down that traditional mode of thinking and trying to put the customer essentially first all the time. Whether that’s patient journey or customer experience is key to getting a patient better, it’s not just the medication or the clinical diagnosis or going for investigation that’s key how you actually treat that patient as a whole. So that’s one issue. For the patient view point, having been in this arthritis space for a while, it’s really probably what they read online or the education that they get about a particular disease especially since I’ve already mention that with some diseases it takes so many years before people get the right diagnosis, 10 years or so. That’s frustrating because we have drugs and management now that can help deliver great outcomes for people with Ankylosing Spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and again all the other arthritic conditions. And a big one for the doctors is gout. Gout in a sense very poorly treated or poorly managed very often because of patient’s attitude towards it. Those are our frustrations, we can help and but we just need to put people in the right place to receive the right education.
W: Well maybe we can help a little bit with that today. Thank you for your time Errol. It’s been a pleasure chatting with you.
E: Pleasure Wayne. Thank you very much.
W: Yup. People can get hold of you on your website at bjchealth.com.au, is that the best way?
E: Yes, that’s correct. That’s fine and they can go to the form or just straight through an email.
W: I’ll mention that again because I’m always getting in trouble for saying websites too quickly. The website for the Bone and Joint Clinic is www.bjchealth.com.au. And if you’ve just missed our interview, the good news is we have a transcript of it on our website and also a SoundCloud archive and you can hear it on YouTube as well at www.hpr.fm. My name is Wayne Bucklar, this is Health Professional Radio.