Riding the Asian Tiger
November 22, 2011
Prestige Brand Award (Established Brand)
December 8, 2011
Enterprise 50 Awards – Touching the lives of poor kids and farmers

MHC was founded in 1994 when I was still working as a General Practitioner GP) in a HDB estate. Life was far from rosy. The life of the solo GP was very tough at that time and most of us were facing rising rental cost and stiff competition from larger groups and polyclinics. Suppliers were charging higher prices for drugs and other medical supplies, compared prices offered to large groups. We didn’t have the economics of scale that they had. I knew of many other solo GPs like myself who were struggling, and I wanted to do something for them.

The company was started to level the playing field for solo GP, by allowing them to group together. As a network, we were able to offset the high cost by getting bulk discounts. Such partnership also opened doors to a larger group of patients. Companies preferred to partner a group of clinics for their employees’ health needs rather than individual clinics.

Even though I understood the intricacies of running a clinic, it wasn’t an easy feat to manage everyone’s needs. We were overwhelmed by the massive amount of data entries and in the beginning and we got into many difficulties which led us to the point of near bankruptcy in the early days. We were using fax machines, pagers and telephones to coordinate the orders and patient data. Imagine the amount of paperwork that we were dealing with.

We were also looking for an efficient way to provide cashless outpatient visits for our corporate clients. Despite the dot-com crash, we made a breakthrough in 2000. We developed the first web-based medical claim system in Southeast Asia that could successfully link up a network of over 150 clinics.

With this system, we were able to help employers and insurers manage health care cost and complicated employee medical benefit scheme at the point of transaction. We eliminated the need for data entries, which brought great relief to many employers. As a result, our business grew exponentially.

Today, technology forms the backbone of MHC’s business. We are essentially about the efficient use of technology to increase productivity for our clients and valued partners.

We believe in investing heavily in strengthening our technological advantage. Through our constant interactions with patients, we have further automated a wide array of patient services such as the filing of medical claims online.

A virtual membership card for patients was created so that they do not need to carry an actual card when visiting a doctor. Taking advantage of the high usage of smart-phones in Singapore, we develop an “app” for our patients. Within seconds, one can find out the location of the nearest clinic. Our patients also receive email and SMS appointment reminders. It’s no longer enough to be efficient; we need to connect to our patients, our consumers.

It would not have been possible without the help and support from my staff. Most of my key staff has been with me since the early days. Some of whom have been with me for more than 15 years.

I believe that it is important to make work enjoyable. We provide them with a fun work environment equipped with table-tennis table, table soccer, exercise equipments and massage chairs. I’ve always encourage them to keep fit and take time to relax. My staff spends eight hours a day at work and we want to make sure they have fun at work; if work is fun the bottom-line will take care of itself. We have grand plans for the company and we can’t do it without our staff support. Today, we process over a million outpatient visits on behalf of our clients and insurance partners in Singapore every year. It is definitely a far cry from when we first started.

Stepping away from Singapore was essential to drive further growth. We wanted to share our learnings and solutions with other networks. There was potential in other countries. Through the support of SPRING Singapore and IE Singapore, we have recently inked a MOA (Memorandum of Agreement) to partner Siloam Hospital Group (a member of Lippo Group) to bring our business model to the Indonesia market. We have also received requests for collaboration in other markets like India and Abu Dhabi.

We are not aspiring for an IPO. Going for an IPO is not the most important thing. But if it comes naturally at the right time, so be it.

Success is really about being able to give hope to people. If we are in a position to go into business and do well, we should translate that to helping others who as not as fortunate. As such, we embraced a non-profit organisation called Goducate – an amalgamation of the words ‘Go’ and ‘Educate” as our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

The various projects for our CSR which MHC is now funding include a children’s home in Cambodia, 12 kampong schools to provide education to over 2,000 children in Sabah and a Training Centre to help poor farmers with livelihood projects and organic farming in the Philippines.

Through Goducate, we also provide free musical instruments and music lessons to needy children in the Philippines, many of whom have mothers working in Singapore as domestic servants.

For the open house of our new premises in Amara, we asked guests to contribute to Goducate, instead of sending congratulatory flowers. Every contribution counts.

We plan to give more than just 10 percent of the company’s annual profit to such social causes. If our business grows and becomes more successful, we want to see more lives touched, and more children and farmers being helped. We certainly want to reach our dream of helping at least 30,000 children with education in Sabah.

Moving forward, I hope that MHC will continue to add value to society and business.

(The Writer is the CEO & Founder of MHC Asia, one of this year’s winner of Enterprise 50 Award)

Source: Business Times 24 November 2011