A Caring Profession
Having expanded its services, Union Medical Healthcare is focusing on what matters – looking after the wellbeing of its clients
Writer: Dani Redd | Project Manager: Callam Waller
When it comes to measuring healthcare systems around the world, the Bloomberg Healthcare Efficiency Index is worth consulting.
It calculates a score for each nation based upon its life expectancy and health expenditures, and Hong Kong has consistently been number one on the list, thanks to its accessible, cost-effective healthcare provision.
Union Medical Healthcare Limited (UMH) has a large part to play in this, as it is Hong Kong’s largest non-hospital medical service provider. Its vision: to become the leading client-centric medical provider in Asia, for aesthetics, health and wellness.
In September 2018, we spoke with Karen Chui, Director of Corporate Finance and Investor Relations at UMH, about the company’s plans to expand through mature marketing and big data. We recently caught up with her to see how the organisation has developed since – according to Chui, there have been no end of successes.
“We have successfully transformed into an integrated medical and healthcare player since we last spoke,” she explains.
“And not only that, UMH has managed to expand its clientele from individuals to the government, insurance and even corporates. Thanks to its continual focus on technology, branding and high-quality services, we have been able to outperform our peers.”
In 2018, UMH had 54 clinics of 233,000 square feet with 80 in-house registered practitioners. It now has 56 of 301,000 square feet, with 96 full-time and exclusive practitioners across 23 disciplines. Collectively, UMH completed more than 240,000 medical procedures over the year ending March 31, 2020. In other words, then, the company’s plans for expansion have been realised.
However, the recent COVID-19 outbreak has proved a challenge for UMH. Although the scale of its business means it is able to secure a reliable and consistent supply of medicines and other products from medical businesses, the fact that beauty services were temporarily suspended meant a potential loss of revenue, which was roughly 20 percent of the business.
The company acted quickly, adopting a series of measures to safeguard the wellness of its talents and clients.
“In February 2020, UMH launched its telemedicine services in Hong Kong, facilitating social distancing following government guidance, safeguarding our clients and talents and offering services to clients during the lockdown due to the pandemic,” Chui explains.
Telemedicine allows doctors to examine patients remotely, via video-link, enabling them to make diagnoses without patients having to leave their houses. During the pandemic, when it is important for anyone exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 to stay at home, it has been invaluable. And looking beyond the pandemic, it is just one of many ways in which UMH can put its clients first.
“We currently are more focused on consumer interfacing than we are on investing in technology, such as AI,” the Director says. “Our capability to capture clients’ needs in a timely and efficient manner shall allow the company to retain clients.”
Since UMH currently has a client retention rate of 80 percent, its customer-centric approach is undoubtedly working.
Putting people first
Indeed, UMH plans to continue its focus on customer retention first and foremost throughout 2020. It cites medical aesthetics as a valuable entry point for securing long-term clients, although that is not to suggest the company only recommends repeated cosmetic procedures.
“We want to encourage individuals to age gracefully,” Chui says. “Regardless, you need to stay healthy! This is why we are preventive and precision focused when it comes to your health and wellness.”
UMH has also identified the fact that women are often the medical and health decision makers of the family, and therefore can target its communications towards them.
Further, the company recently rolled out its UMH Health Program, which offered 100,000 individuals free health and wellness services valued up to $240 a head, as well as discounted services at special rates. It invited 1,000 medical and healthcare professionals in Hong Kong to join the programme for free, helping to boost their wellbeing.
This is but one example of its focus of corporate citizenship – looking after the welfare of both loyal clients and Hong Kong residents.
As well as focusing on retaining clients, UMH is also deeply engaged in retaining talent to maintain its high-quality services. Back in 2018, Chui mentioned that finding skilled medical practitioners was one of the company’s greatest challenges. These days, it is much less so.
“Now we are the largest non-hospital medical service in Hong Kong, with more than 120 in-house and 170 affiliated registered practitioners, so attracting talent is much easier,” she says. “The challenge now lies in selecting the right candidate to grow the platform with us in the long-term.”
Chui sees the company’s new co-ownership plan as vital to this goal. UMH’s talented staff are invited to invest a proportion of their annual salary, their existing family wealth, into the company, helping to drive overall growth over the next few years. At the end of the investment period, participants may be awarded up to 50 percent of free shares.
“Participants are no longer just an employee, but a co-owner of the company with the upside of free shares of UMH,” she explains. “We anticipate this sense of ownership will make staff more productive and efficient, and hence UMH as a whole.”
With its emphasis on client retention and staff satisfaction, the firm is focusing on what is most important in healthcare – putting people first. It is this approach, above all, which explains its success.
Despite the recent pandemic, Chui remains optimistic about the period ahead, and states that UMH will continue to expand its operations, whilst monitoring it’s medical and aesthetic targets closely.
“We were quite focused on local spending and announced a further acquisition of our pain and wellness management centre recently – we will replicate this model and further consolidate the medical industry,” the Director says.
“In addition to medical tourism, we have decided to speed up expansion into Mainland China, in particular the Greater Area Bay, where favourable policies have been and will be implemented to facilitate the interaction of talents and business.”
UMH plans to set up between 30 to 50 outlets in the next three to five years. We, for one, are in no doubt it will realise its goal of becoming one of Asia’s most important and well-respected medical providers.