How this nurse hit a home run to grow her health business
As a nurse, Lorna Cook knows firsthand that receiving chemotherapy treatment at home can bring many benefits, including less hassle for those receiving treatment.
So, when her friend Julie Adams, a pharmacist who had experience providing chemotherapy treatments in public hospitals, came to her with the idea to create a business that makes the process more accessible and comfortable for patients, she jumped at the chance.
From those early conversations in 2012, Lorna and Julie are now co-owners of View Health, based in Perth, WA. Their mission is to keep patients safe and comfortable while they undergo treatments for chronic illnesses and cancers. This means rather than travelling to hospital for treatment, which can be risky for people with weakened immune systems, the treatment comes to them at home.
View Health began under the name Chemo @ Home, which opened for business in mid-2013 and started with just two nursing staff. Fast forward to 2020 and the team has grown to more than 65 staff around Australia providing in-home treatments.
“At the time, we were both looking for a new challenge in our careers and wanted to contribute to something bigger. We started with the basics: setting up the processes and protocols, talking to doctors and getting their buy-in,” Lorna says.
In order to finance the launch of the business, both Lorna and Julie remortgaged their homes. This provided the funds to hire their first staff members, buy equipment and undertake the necessary accreditations.
As the company size increased from two to 65 staff, it experienced some growing pains. Lorna and Julie say that expanding View Health into new territories and increasing service levels takes a large upfront investment in staff training and equipment.
“The nature of our company is you have to hire a nurse, train them, teach them and then wait for the referrals from doctors to start coming in,” Lorna says.
“It takes a while to recoup the investment into that team member. And when you’re hiring several at once, it can take six to 12 months to see a return on that investment.”
Lorna says they found this arrangement particularly limiting as View Health moved through a stage of rapid growth.
“It left us asset rich, but cash poor,” she says.
At this point, they looked for additional funding to help bridge the gap and hopefully speed up revenue gains. They had already exhausted their ability to remortgage their homes, and tapping into old ways of financing, such as asking friends and family or accessing personal savings, was off the table.
“We didn’t want to borrow from family and friends and ask them to take on that risk,” Lorna says.
Instead, they turned to a broker for help with finding the right financial option for this stage of their business journey. One of the biggest benefits of using a broker is feeling like someone is in their corner, Lorna says.
Knowing that speed and simplicity was paramount to help meet increasing demand, their broker recommended a small business loan from Prospa as the best option to meet their needs.
“We didn’t want to lose the momentum that we had in the business, so a short turnaround time and quick access to cash gave us the chance to grow and not miss out,” Lorna says.
View Health connected with Prospa in April 2018, and from start to finish the application and approval process took just a couple of days before funds were in their account.
“We were able to get our nurses on the road to help treat our patients,” Lorna says.
Using a broker also helped them to navigate the complexities of lending, and “our broker was honest about the details of our options and why a small business loan from Prospa was the right fit for us”, Lorna says.
“We didn’t know that business finance like this existed – we only knew the traditional banking methods. So we took their advice and we’re very glad we did.”
Big things ahead
Now that some of the operational bumps have been smoothed over, Lorna says she and Julie spend most of their time on business strategy and growth management. This includes discussions with government representatives and hospital administrators to manage the inflow of patients and promote the service as an alternative to hospital-based treatments.
“It’s a wonderful feeling to know we are helping to change the norm of an aspect of healthcare.”
She adds that in the current climate of coronavirus, more people are expressing interest in receiving treatment at home.
“We’ve proven it can be safe and convenient, and now with COVID-19, it’s much safer for immunocompromised people to be away from places where sick people congregate – like a hospital,” she says.
Because of this, Lorna anticipates View Health is on the cusp of another growth spurt.
“We may need to speak to our broker soon about another small business loan to invest in more team members to be able to provide this service for patients,” she says.
“It’s good to know that there are options like this.”
A Prospa Small Business Loan helped Lorna and View Health to:
- Take advantage of a period of rapid growth to expand.
- Bridge the gap between investing resources to train new staff and seeing return on that investment.
- Focus more on long-term strategy instead of the day-to-day operations.
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