Patients who are seeking for a particular healthcare service don’t always go for the cheapest option. Some patients from just across town or around the country are willing to travel for the quality, affordable care they seek. In this interview with Dr. Myles Holt, he talks about an online healthcare platform called TENDER and explains how it changes the way patients communicate with providers by obtaining second opinions, treatment options and fee estimate online.
Dr. Myles Holt is a dentist with years of international experience spanning Australia, UK, Europe, the Middle East & Asia. He is the Founder, Director and Head Trainer of the Australasian Academy of Dento-Facial Aesthetics and is also the Founder of TENDER Healthcare. TENDER enables healthcare providers to locate and engage directly with patients who are actively seeking health services and are willing to travel for the quality, affordable care they seek.
Toby Longhurst: Hello and welcome to Health Professional Radio. My name is Toby Longhurst and joining me in conversation is Dr. Myles Holt. Dr. Holt is the Head Trainer of the Australasian Academy of Dento-Facial Aesthetics and he’s also the founder of an exciting new service called Tender Healthcare. Dr. Holt, welcome to the program.
Dr Myles Holt: Thanks very much Toby, good to be here.
Toby: Our pleasure. Before we get into all of the exciting things you’re doing, perhaps we could start a little bit about your background. What’s the Dr. Holt story?
Dr Holt: Sure thing. So I guess I consider myself a bit of a healthcare entrepreneur, having founded the Australasian Academy of Dento-Facial Aesthetics and more recently founding Tender Healthcare. However, by profession I’m actually a dentist and I actually think it’s probably that experience working globally in that primary healthcare role – for the last 20 years, I’ve worked across Australasia Europe in the Middle East and that’s given me obviously insight into developing platforms that would overcome some of the traditional barriers that I’ve seen in healthcare delivery both for patients and for providers and improving the healthcare system. And I think that’s where things like Tender Healthcare came from.
Toby: Having worked all around the world, every country has different healthcare systems, how would you rate Australia’s healthcare system at the moment compared on an international scale?
Dr Holt: Yeah, I think anybody that works in the earth care industry and even patients if they really stop to think about it would realise just how lucky we are in Australia with the healthcare industry, both in terms of quality, in terms of education and training, regulation and also just the cost of it as well. While we tend to think that healthcare is expensive, and it is, we are still very lucky in this part of the world.
Toby: Now technology is always changing things and these great systems can be improved. You’ve identified some areas that you think can be improved with your new service called Tender Healthcare, what is it? How does it work?
Dr Holt: Yeah, so Tender Healthcare is a new online platform that’s available in Australia and it essentially helps to bridge the gap between patients and providers of healthcare and it does that by breaking down traditional barriers that are geographical barriers and it moves the interactions online. So essentially Tender Healthcare empowers patients to better manage their own healthcare need while creating the exciting new opportunity for providers to deliver care in a unique way.
Toby: So if I’m looking for a provider, what’s your service going to do for me? What do I need to do and what do I get?
Dr Holt: Sure, so it’s brilliantly simple. Patients post cases onto the Tender Healthcare platform which outline their healthcare need and providers will then be notified that a case that’s available in their category. They go online and they tender and offer for care, hence the name, and patients will then assess the options are presented to them and select the best offer that represents quality affordable healthcare that fits in with what they’re seeking.
Toby: Sure. Healthcare is a pretty broad area. What type of services do you think are you aiming for with this service?
Dr Holt: Yeah, the Tender Healthcare has been designed to cater to a broad spectrum of services so we have everything from laser vision correction through to dentistry, cosmetic surgery, hip and knee replacements all the way up to cardiothoracic surgery. We’ve seem to see that the cases that are presented tend to be obviously the larger ticket items, the things that require patients to also put a bit more thought into it. So I wouldn’t consider that a patient would post the need for a massage or a facial or something like that onto the site. It’s something where they really need to assess multiple second opinions, different treatment options and then make an informed decision.
Toby: I think it’s a great service. Are there any provisions or things to prevent people who actually need urgent medical care that they should be going to see someone straight away, not trying to try and save a dollar here or there? Are there any provisions for the types of services that are available?
Dr Holt: Absolutely and that’s the warning or the suggestion we put all over the Tender Healthcare site that if it’s an emergency procedure, then obviously we have emergency systems in place so a triple O system and our emergency departments, Hospital are the go to places. These are really for services where you do have a little bit of time to sit down and think about it and research is consistently showing us that we achieve better healthcare outcomes for patients when they have a number of second opinions and different treatment options available to them and they can sit down and assess that so it’s certainly not an emergency service but by the same token I note that you mentioned saving a few dollars there, it’s certainly not a system that’s purely based on cost and I think that’s where people, certainly providers, can get a little bit misled thinking that “Oh perhaps this is just a cost comparison website.” And nothing could be further from the truth. In the cases that we’ve seen on the Tender Healthcare site, I guess in a way it did surprise us as much as anybody that patients don’t always go for the cheapest option that’s presented. They do spend a bit of time trying to find something that fits in line with the quality that they’re wanting as well as an affordable solution.
Toby: Successful businesses these days often seem to strategize to be industry disruptors. Do you see yourself as a disruptor of the healthcare industry?
Dr Holt: I really don’t. I guess the term ‘entrepreneur’ or doing things like this tend to put you into that category but my very nature of being a dentist, we’re very conservative people by training and by profession. And as a healthcare professional, obviously I’m more concerned with the outcomes for my patients but what I tend to find and what I guess is frustrating a little bit is that the healthcare industry in general seems to be slow on the uptake of some new service delivery models particularly anything that has ‘online’ attached to it, but ultimately could just better service their patients and their businesses and we tend to see it as disruption rather than being a great opportunity for everybody involved in healthcare.
Toby: It’s really a great opportunity for patients to be able to get comparison. What about from the healthcare provider end, why should I sign up? What’s in it for me?
Dr Holt: Yeah, so Toby when I was mentioning about geographical barriers, that’s applied to patients and providers consistently. So obviously for patients, we know they should get second opinions and treatment options but that’s easier said than done. We’re all very busy and to have to run around physically to multiple second opinion appointments for the same problem, not only is it costly but it’s very time-consuming. But by the same token, providers have been limited geographically as well so we choose a location to set up our practice in and that really does lock us into the local catchment area of really whoever works or lives nearby and that puts a restriction on the number of people that we can cater to. So by suddenly opening up the field and being able to consult online with people across town or across the country, it helps us to expand and grow our business beyond that local catchment area. So it provides a unique opportunity, a growth of a provider’s business.
Toby: You mentioned saving time, how long do you expect a typical tender process to take?
Dr Holt: So it does depend on the complexity of the case and really one of the things we’ve seen is it depends on how much information patients provide upfront. So as I said, the process involves patients posting their case initially and as part of that, they can post x-rays, treatment plans they’ve already gotten, test results, whatever files and records including medical history they need to add but if they don’t provide enough, then sometimes providers will want a little bit more before they feel confident to offer a solution or an alternative. And there is the ability to have a bit of back and forward dialogue through the site. I would say, typically a case could take anywhere from 24 hours to a few days.
Toby: You mentioned that it depends on what the patient posts. From your end, from the Tender Healthcare end – are you providing them with any type of guidelines and helpful hints because a lot of the time I imagine the patient don’t know exactly what they want or what they need.
Dr Holt: Absolutely. So yeah, through the case posting process we do have little hints and tips and suggestions on how to really maximize the benefit or the patient and just to make life easier for the providers as well. So being a provider healthcare myself, I know how restrictive it is to not have the information that you need so we definitely encourage and guide them on what kinds of things that they can include and the common things that they’ll need to consider. But as I said, there’s also that dialogue that’s able happen so if a provider did find that there was something specific or a question they wanted to ask, there is the ability to ask that back and forward before actually offering and be kind of tender for the case.
Toby: Now you mentioned money and the price wasn’t always the number one factor, but it is an important one. To use this service under other any fees involved? What type of fees are we looking at?
Dr Holt: No, so it’s a free service for patients which is one of the attractive things. And for providers, it really represents kind of a low cost focused marketing spend. So it’s got an annual membership fee of a few hundred dollars, so it’s not large by comparison to what practices usually spend to recruit patients, sort of find new patients. And as I said, it’s a focus spend provided because you know that the people on this service are actively seeking the treatment you’re providing. But it’s not all about cost so patient space different value on different things and certainly when you think it, for example of somebody who might be in a country or a rural area and they don’t have access to a lot of specialty care around them and yet they don’t know who to go to and they can’t easily find something. Now that you can post this case online and there may be somebody in the next town or they would be willing to travel to the capital city to find somebody who gives a specialized care they can access. We did some recent market research and 79 percent of Australians said they’d be willing to travel outside their local area to access better quality, more affordable care so it’s a really interesting scenario we’re seeing.
Toby: Sure. And what’s the state of the service at the moment, is it something that’s up and running now or it’s coming soon, almost ready?
Dr Holt: It’s coming soon so at the moment we’re actively looking for providers who are interested in providing solutions to care for patients and we’ve got patients literally beating down the door to find new solutions for healthcare so we are launching in a few weeks times. So at the moment we’ve gone through quite a few test cases to perfect the system but we’re launching nationwide within the next few weeks.
Toby: And how can other healthcare providers get involved if they think that this is something that they’re interested in pursuing?
Dr Holt: Sure so they can go to our website which is www.tenderhc.com and there’s a whole of information outlining the benefits and what’s required and they can also register directly online as well.
Toby: Excellent and what was the name of the website again?
Dr Holt: It’s tenderhc.com
Toby: Well Dr Holt we’re quickly running out of time, but thank you so much for joining us today. It’s been very informative.
Dr Holt: Thanks so much for your time.
Toby: Our pleasure. Now if you’ve just joined us on Health Professional Radio, you’ve just missed my conversation with Dr. Myles Holt about some exciting new ways for patients to be able to connect with healthcare professionals. The good news is that you can find this interview in full, along with all of our other interviews at our website healthprofessionalradiocom.au or hpr.fm. You can also find us on Facebook, Instagram SoundCloud iTunes Pinterest Twitter and LinkedIn. my name is Toby Longhurst and you’ve been joining us on Health Professional Radio.