Yellow Folder Interview Series: Peter Spryszynski – Country Manager, Q-bital Healthcare Solutions

 

Given the challenges we’ve all experienced during 2020 and into 2021, Yellow Folder wanted to reach out to a number of executives to understand how COVID-19 has impacted their businesses, their teams, and their ways of working.

In this second interview we spoke with Peter Spryszynski, who as Country Manager of Q-bital Healthcare Solutions, which offers a range of services to healthcare providers including additional capacity, emergency response, refurbishment replacement capacity and community healthcare, has focused on leading growth in an entirely new market during a pandemic.

 

 

Question (Yellow Folder): Being in the health sector, how has COVID-19 impacted your business? 

Answer (Peter Spryszynski): We found that normal business slowed down, but, in the meantime, different forces came into play. When the first wave of COVID-19 was at its peak, we were being contacted by various state government health agencies to provide infrastructure for COVID-19 recovery centres. These were centres they were going to set up at convention centres and football fields.

Fortunately, the curve flattened, but as a business, considering we are at a relatively early stage of our growth in Australia, it was a really positive step for us to be part of that conversation and to be considered as a potential solution.

There was also a new business driver in the form of pent-up demand for elective surgery. This was compounded by the fact that people who hadn’t had normal health investigations, who in the ordinary run of things would have had positive findings that were trivial or found early and easily treated, are now seeing their disease is more advanced and requires more complex intervention. This has led to increased demand for our equipment.

Q: What were some of the challenges you faced?

A: One challenge for us was not being able to engage with our customers as we usually would. In a normal non-pandemic moment, clients could recognise the value of the offering. But during COVID-19, there was a paralysis in relation to thinking outside the box. Innovative solutions that may seem like a taking a leap of faith, can feel like a risk. Additionally, as our clients had a myriad of other competing priorities, our usual stakeholders were prioritising COVID-19 issues including chasing personal protective equipment, organising re-development works in the hospitals and dividing emergency departments. Trying to cut through this when you genuinely have an offering or way to help was difficult. Another issue we faced was the fact that we had a project in Toowoomba, Queensland and the Government requirement was two weeks in quarantine, so some of our new staff from outside the state missed out on seeing a lot of the progress.

Q: What are some of the successes you had during COVID-19?

A: One success was that we were able to learn more about our customers and how they operated in times of stress. We also learnt who the decision makers at our clients are; it wasn’t always the CEO or the Board, sometimes it was deeper into the organisation.

On top of this, as staying connected with customers, especially those based in Victoria and Queensland, was difficult, we increased our presence on social media, e-news and blogs. It also triggered us to develop a targeted PR campaign to leverage the pain points in the system. We are only starting to flesh this out at the moment.

Working through COVID-19 required lots of adapting. Our work was pulling us toward COVID-19 type clinics and there were additional requirements in our facilities.

Because we are young and new, we are malleable and adaptable, and able to reflect what the market needs. Agility is in our DNA. We also had support from our parent company, Vanguard Healthcare Solutions, which is based in the UK.

Q: What are some of the positives you had?

A: Internally speaking, a real positive was learning how resilient the UK and Australian organisations are as a group. It reinforced the culture of the organisation and it didn’t stray when the UK was in a strict lockdown. When the pressure was on, everyone pulled together and did what they needed to do. Working with the UK, they have been very responsive. They were able to send out a colleague to help with the first delivery in Toowoomba, which gave us the training we needed to deliver subsequent ones. It didn’t feel like they were on the other side of the world.

From an external perspective, Q-bital was known enough to be called upon when various stakeholders needed a solution. Also, because some projects were deferred or had slowed down, we had some downtime to think about what next steps looked like for us.

Q: What has permanently changed for you?

A: Our mindset has changed; we were quite reactive and now we are introducing a little bit more of ‘what if?’ thinking in our daily operations. We are much more focused on trying to anticipate how the market is going to be changing and what our customers are going to need.

Q: What does your roadmap out of COVID-19 look like?

A: A significant opportunity of ours in Queensland, which was delayed due to COVID-19 in March, is now returning. It is bigger than our project in Toowoomba in terms of number of units. There are two procedure rooms in one module, a ward, and a decontamination facility. On top of that, we are overseeing all of the construction work as well. There has been a delay in refurbishment and procedures, so we will see a surge in demand.

As a business, we have had enough time now in Australia to set up a footprint and to start genuinely looking into New Zealand and neighbouring counties, which is exciting.

 

 

The Yellow Folder team would like to thank Peter very much for his insights and wishes Q-bital well as the business continues to grow. Please stay tuned for our next interview with Julie Watkins  Chief People Officer, UniSuper, who discusses how she has onboarded and trained a significant number of staff remotely during 2020 and into 2021.