18 Oct 2018

Dr Tan and Partners’ are making a bold attempt to answer a simple primary healthcare question – “wouldn’t it be convenient for you to go to a clinic in Jakarta that had access to the same medical records as the clinic you went to a few days ago in Singapore?” Their answer – A network of clinics with the same branding and same quality.

Scaling primary healthcare for growth beyond Singapore

With just a single clinic in 2005, Dr Tan Kok Kuan now runs a network of eight called Dr Tan & Partners (DTAP). One of them, an aesthetics clinic, has all the usual trimmings and cutting-edge technology to provide beauty and wellness services and products.

On the opposite end, Dr Tan’s Robertson clinic is one of a select few in Singapore that the Ministry of Health has given the green-light to provide anonymous HIV testing to patients. Government policy is to have patients testing for with HIV to be immediately registered with NRIC and contact numbers.

This means anyone, regardless of nationality, can show up at this clinic and get a HIV test done without having to hand over any identification whatsoever, ensuring maximum confidentiality.

A clinic expansion plan that’s anything but clinical

Even with eight clinics that caters to different needs under his belt now, Dr Tan’s vision for his organisation is still grand. That, however, is in response to an innate problem. “We [at DTAP] feel that primary care is not maximised in Singapore.” Too many people are going to specialists and to hospitals to take care of problems that can be easily dealt with at a primary health setting”. This results in increased medical costs for patients and taxes the hospitals.

His prescription? A two-pronged approach centred on technology and connectivity to help with continuity of patient care. "The vision that I have is using technology and connectivity to help with the continuity of patient care."

"GP plus" model
Dr Tan envisions the way forward for his clinic as involving a General Practitioner (GP) that bridges this gap between the current standard of primary healthcare and specialist care. “What we do is ensure we have the resources, the doctors, the staff and the training to care for the patient before having to go to a specialist or hospital,” Dr Tan said.

"McDonaldization of healthcare"
Dr Tan is essentially promoting a cross-border, standardisation of healthcare quality through a network of clinics. “These days, people are extremely mobile, they travel a lot for work,” Dr Tan said. “But if we have a clinic in Jakarta and your information can be accessed through there and the doctor there can follow up on you, wouldn’t that be exceedingly convenient?” This means patients’ records can be accessed and used by different doctors, even across different countries, minimising inconvenience and error on both the patient and doctor’s end – a doctor can easily pull out past records even if it’s the patient’s first time at the clinic.
To healthcare providers, having access to accurate, updated patient information could be the literal difference between life and death. This efficiency and interconnectivity agenda that Dr Tan is pushing has the interests of patients at heart. His main motivation in rolling out more technologically-enabled clinics is to reach out and help as many people as possible. His proposed regional network of clinics means a patient would have access to a standard quality of medical healthcare – the idea that a patient can walk into any of his clinic with confidence and trust that they will be provided quality healthcare is something that Dr Tan is working tirelessly towards.

To do that, Dr Tan is thus always on the lookout for ways and resources to see his vision through. From his first clinic till now, it has remained largely self-funded, but he has scaled up through the skills and knowledge of his partners, saying, “every doctor has their own set of skills, so while every service is offered at every clinic, each clinic has its own focus or characteristics.” Besides tapping on the advice and support of his industry peers, Dr Tan is also an advocate of leveraging resources that’s been put in place to help SMEs. One such example is tapping on DBS and Singtel’s 99%SME marketplace, where he’s started to sell his non-patient care products.

DTAP’s story tells of how a small enterprise can potentially make a big impact on both the community and industry set in their ways. And with a little help from initiatives such as DBS and Singtel’s 99%SME movement, that vision of expansion could be realised sooner than later.

Watch the full story below.

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