This week's Doctorpreneur of Doctology is Dr Ganesh Naidoo.
Dr Ganesh Naidoo is an Australian General Practitioner (FRACGP), passionate about improving the health of all patients through health care innovation.
He was the founder and Managing Director of Medicheck Australia, an occupational health and general practice service that was acquired by Fullerton Health and served as Medical Director for Fullerton Health Australia before joining Healius Limited as the National Medical Director of Health & Co.
What organisation / startup did you found?
What is its noble purpose? We want to be the best in the world at getting medications to patients when they need them.
Tell me about the first 10 years of your life?
I was born in Port Kelang, Malaysia on the Strait of Malacca midway between Penang and Singapore. My family descended from the east coast of India, near Hyderabad and were brought to Malaya in the early 20th century as indentured labourers working the British owned rubber plantation estates.
My father, through hard work and scholarships, successfully exited the plantation life and was educated at the University in Penang. I did not live long in Malaysia, my father accepting international roles. Our young family moved to Florida when I was three years old and I completed kindergarten in Tallahassee.
There were short periods in Europe, including time in Stockholm, Sweden before our family migrated permanently to Melbourne when I was five years old.
We lived a typical suburban life in the south-east suburbs of Melbourne although it was pretty hard being a migrant kid in Melbourne in the 1980s. I attended a local primary school prior to commencing at Haileybury College. Haileybury was a shock. An austere boys school in those days. You had to learn to have thick skin and look after yourself.
What age were you when you had your first paying job? What was it? I think I was 16 and worked a shift off the books at the local "servo" on a Saturday afternoon for $5 an hour. Over the next few years I worked a regular shift and looked after the service station on the weekends.
I enjoyed looking after the servo, keeping the shelves clean, the floor mopped and the newspapers stacked. I learnt a lot about small business and great customer service.
What made you want to be a Doctor and what specialty did you choose? Why? I had a true love of science, particularly biology. I remember at a young age meeting a great GP that took the time to explain how Ventolin, as a bronchodilator would help my asthma. It was a pivotal moment that I still think about to this day.
I went on to major in Physiology and Immunology at Monash before entering Graduate Medicine at the University of Queensland.
During my internship at The Alfred, I really loved my time in the Vascular Surgery and Trauma Units. I strongly considered a surgical speciality but decided I wanted to have a broader clinical life and chose General Practice.
What made you want to be an Entrepreneur or follow an alternative route? When exactly did you decide?
I have always loved business and thinking about business models even at a very young age.
I remember working hard as a GP in a private clinic and thinking that I was limited in the number of people I could help per day due to the limits of my personal exertion. To me, the business of the clinic was more important than my individual efforts because a great health care business could help multitudes more than I personally could in my clinical life.
I was about 32 years old when I decided to build a healthcare business that could do things differently.
Are you still practicing as a Doctor now? If yes, do you intend to stop if your organisation or project takes off?
I am providing Medical Director support to a large general practice and undertaking some limited clinical work. It helps me keep close to the problems that clinics, doctors and patients are facing in this rapidly changing landscape.
Ultimately I think it is important that I continue some ongoing clinical work regardless of my business interests.
Why do you think traditionally many Doctors struggle with entrepreneurship? Or at least they are perceived to? Thinking about business optimisation has been seen as against the ethos of medical professionalism. To me, I have never seen good medicine and good business as mutually exclusive.
On the contrary, we need to optimise our service models and leverage new technology to provide the best health outcomes for our patients.
What is your favourite quote?
“It always seems impossible until it’s done".
What would you do in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse?
Sail off into the sunset with my family, my dog and a beer.
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