Guest: Geoff Purtill
Presenter: Wayne Bucklar
Guest Bio: Geoff has been the Managing Director of Invacare Australia and Invacare New Zealand for 5 years. Prior to that he worked as the Customer Development Director for Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, based in Singapore and consulted in Japan for a short period of time. Geoff was in the Army for 14 years, initially as an Electronics Technician and later as an Officer before joining the corporate world. He has worked in blue chip companies, including Nestle and Johnson and Johnson before joining Invacare. Auckland is home for Geoff and his partner and children, but working life is split between Sydney and Auckland on a regular basis.
Segment overview: In today’s Health Supplier Segment, let us learn more about the products that Invacare Australia and New Zealand has to offer from Managing Director Geoff Purtill. Their market-leading medical products promote recovery and active lifestyles for those requiring home and other non-acute health care. With over 170 dealers nationwide, they are focused on direct sales of key products designed specifically for the Nursing Home and Hospital environment. The company conducts business in more than 80 countries around the world and has the largest distribution network in the industry.
Health Professional Radio
Wayne Bucklar: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio. My name is Wayne Bucklar and my guest joining me today is Geoff Purtill. Geoff is the managing director of Invacare Australia and New Zealand and joins us on the phone. Geoff welcome to Health Professional Radio Christina.
Geoff Purtill: Thank you Wayne. Thanks for inviting me.
W: It’s a pleasure to have you on. Geoff tell us a little bit about Invacare, it’s not the kind of name that instantly tells me what you do so explain a little bit about your product range and could you tell us about your geographic footprint to where it is that you service?
G: Yes, certainly. So Invacare is a global leader in provision of equipment particularly for home care and institutional care so that’s the long term care facility group that you see as well as in-home. And the primary products that we manufacture ourselves and distribute within Australia and New Zealand are the mobility and seating range of products – the complex power and manual wheel chairs, beds, mattresses, hoist and lifting devices, hygiene, day to day living products and oxygen therapy. And primarily our geographic footprint in Australia, our head office is based in Sydney and we use a dealer network throughout Australia to service our customer base. And in New Zealand we are based in Auckland and we are direct in the market at the moment and then we do have a dealer base that we use in particularly in the home care side of our business but it’s just a slightly different model in New Zealand versus Australia largely to the health care funding model that exist there versus Australia.
W: I see. And Geoff, in Australia are you a supplier to both the institutional market and the private market?
G: Yes, we are.
W: And the same in New Zealand?
G: Yes, and the same in New Zealand.
W: I guess with the range of products I’ve seen on your website, the aged care market is a big market for you but I’m also assuming that it extends out to other people who just have issues that limit their mobility and their ability to get in and out about, such and such.
G: Yes, absolutely. So our primary product range goes about the disability sector as well as the aged sector but a lot of the products that is available for people that are in-home or aging in place is also available to those who either have a congenital disability or developed a disability later in life such as MS or those who are caused by an accident such as a car accident or motorboat accident or something similar so that’s why the product is basically broadly across those two areas. Our brand’s goal is to make lots of experiences as possibly so what we’re always trying to do is get people to be involved and able to contribute back into society in the way that they wanted to or used to and they still want to be able to.
W: Now Geoff many of our listeners are clinicians, normally in acute care. About 95% of our audience are in that acute care space although we do have a growing aged care audience as well for institutional aged care. What’s the message that you’d like clinicians to take away from our chat today?
G: Well it’s interesting that you talk about most of your clinicians being in acute care. A lot of the clinicians that we’ve talked to are occupational therapists and physiotherapists so obviously working very closely with the aged care sector and the disability sector. And one of the things that I would like them to take away is that as a manufacturer of products for their industry that we have a strong commitment and responsibility to providing training and education to those therapists so that they are best equipped to support the people that need the equipment. And also that we’ve got a strong responsibility to educate consumers or users of our product so that they’re now informed and are able to tell their therapist what they require and also what they need to help their lives be easier.
W: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio. My name is Wayne Bucklar and I’m in conversation with Geoff Purtill. Geoff is the managing director of Invacare Australia and New Zealand and we’ve been talking about the Invacare range of products that support the aged care sector and the disability sector and support lifestyle and mobility. Geoff, one of the favorite questions of mine is about misconceptions and I guess in every industry there are misconceptions. So amongst your customers and client’s, what’s the biggest misconception about your product range that drive you nuts and keeps you awake at night?
G: That’s a really good question and it’s really an interesting one especially with your … line, I think the thing that really keeps me awake or concerns me the most is this perception that suppliers and customers that are supporting the users are somehow rocking the system and ripping them off and the product in Australia is much more expensive than it is overseas.
W: Uh huh.
G: It was the TCA report last year into pricing the Assistive Technology Equipment sector and one of the key findings which was bared in about page 25 of that report is that an actual fact of equipment in Australia was between 20 and 25 percent cheaper than what was available overseas. So it is something that they grapple with a lot in our industry and in the market place, the perception that somehow dealers and suppliers are guaranteeing those less fortunate I guess. So that is the thing that we work very hard as a supplier of equipment to overcome and to provide product that is good quality, and good product at good cost, but it is something that challenges in the industry.
W: That’s an interesting perception, I wasn’t aware that there was this idea that it was unreasonably expensive in Australia. Any idea what led to that marketplace perception?
G: A lot of that has been around the availability of products online.
W: Uh huh.
G: And particularly if you are new, you go online let’s say how much a sports wheelchair is or a recreational wheelchair is on certain online websites, it would be given to going to people that the price was cheaper and unfortunately they’re obviously in a different country often. And they don’t include things like freight and they also don’t include things like “What happens if it doesn’t suits you … or you need to service or repair or maintain it and also it’s a lifetime.” So those prices are not factored in nor is what I said earlier about the training and education that we provide to therapists and end users on the product which unfortunately isn’t free so we need to pay for that and that comes from having adequate marketing in the products.
W: Yeah, I think one of the things that a lot of Australians don’t readily realize is the difference in the level of care that occurs in Australia with things like the Therapeutic Goods Administration licensing for products and the requirement for consumers to be protected, which the Australian industry seems to do an excellent job of keeping people safe and giving people a product that doesn’t break and that doesn’t collapse and that doesn’t cause further injury which in a lot of overseas countries it’s “buy or beware.”
G: Yeah, that is exactly right. And you know the cost of compliance and regulation in Australia is very significantly higher than it be in another you know other markets for sure. But we do see more products being imported and so one of the other areas that we would like to see some work around is around the supplier accreditation and the work that the Assistive Technology Supplier Association is working on as well. A model that they put together around supplier accreditation and making sure that the equipment that is provided meets certain standards and they’re not just imported from lower cost regions and they need to meet certain quality standards. So that is one of the challenges as well.
W: Well with a little bit of luck Geoff, today we can help with that misconceptions amongst some of our listeners at least. How do people get in touch with you?
G: They can get in touch with me via my email which I’m happy to share to your listeners.
W: Yes, sure.
G: email@example.com or dot co dot n z (firstname.lastname@example.org) and our 1 800 number in Australia is 1800 460 460 if anyone amongst you need any further information, they can certainly email or ring me and I’ll be happy to answer all the questions I could.
W: Now I’m always getting in trouble for mentioning phone numbers without warning people. So fair warning listeners, pencils ready that number again in Australia is 1800 460 460 and the website is www.invacare I N V A C A R E .com.au in Australia and Invacare.co.nz in New Zealand. Did I get that all right, Geoff?
G: You did Wayne, very well done.
W: Only one thing worst than mentioning numbers and websites too quickly is when I get them wrong when I repeat them but I did try hard.
W: Geoff thank you for your time today. It’s been a pleasure having you on with us.
G: Thank you Wayne. I appreciate the opportunity to share some views with your listeners and any feedback would be nice.
W: And if you just joined us on Health Professional Radio, you’ve just missed my conversation with Geoff Purtill the managing director of Invacare Australia and New Zealand. But the good news is we have a transcript on our website, we also have a SoundCould archive and you can find the sound archive on YouTube as well. Our website is www.hpr.fm. This is Wayne Bucklar for Health Professional Radio.