Grafton Medical Centre, headed by Dr Lung Choi and Janice Choi, is a new player in Auckland’s health care industry. With a different approach, they are already making an impact in the Central Auckland area.
With a will to be at the forefront of preventative medicine, several years ago clinical director, Dr Lung Choi, left hospital practice and trained as a GP. He then worked in a number of GP practices around and north of Auckland before becoming a partner at Upper Harbour Medical Centre in 2016.
A couple of years into his partnership, the opportunity arose to establish his own practice from scratch. A friend who owns and operates a dental practice in Grafton introduced him to an empty space in their building. Dr Choi and Janice ran the numbers and found that it stacked up well financially. From there everything fell into place and Grafton Medical was underway.
Dr Choi saw an opportunity to create a clinic that is open to patients from all walks of life but also provides dedicated care to LGBTQIA patients, an increasingly visible group that has high health needs but often neglected.
“I’m gay and in the past it hasn’t been easy to find a place where you can talk about things openly. There’s been research showing that in New Zealand up to 50 per cent of LGBTQ patients have mentioned that their GP doesn’t know their sexuality. And while they may not volunteer that information, they do think it’s important that their doctor knows. I definitely feel like there is room for a practice like this.”
While many health care practitioners go into business, most go into partnership within an existing practice and do not start from scratch. Certainly Lung and Janice had been warned by various advisers regarding the problems of starting a new business. Like other startups, starting a medical practice from scratch created challenges like variable income, building the clientele base, capital investment, building and fitout designs and, in fact, about half a million was spent on renovating and fitting-out the ex-café space into a modern functional clinic.
Additionally, rather than taking the traditional approach of partnering with other doctors, Dr Choi chose to partner with his very articulate sister, Janice Choi, who became the practice manager.
Janice Choi has a PhD in Chemistry and she hasn’t run a medical practice before. However, her background as a Research Manager at University of Auckland inadvertently set her up nicely for her role as practice manager.
As a research manager for a large research group at university, she covered everything from administration, to HR, to cost management and finances and many other complex tasks. This unique experience enabled her to build up an understanding of running a business.
Although she had to upskill very quickly, Janice has not been fazed by the challenges in her new role as practice manager. Much like the diversity of her previous job, she’s had to learn about every aspect of the business such as the design of the floor plan and cabinetry, patient management software, graphic design for advertising materials and signage, content writing and web development.
“It’s been a good challenge and has motivated me to learn new skills.”
We don’t have many clients that we have such a long history with! Janice and Andrew went to high school together; Andrew’s wife and Lung were classmates during their training to become GPs.
In 2011, when The Accounting Hub was a fledgling business, Lung and Janice enlisted Andrew’s help with accounts for their investment property. Andrew remained their property accountant, and a few more years passed until they needed an accountant for the new clinic.
“We didn’t need to look for someone else, we knew Andrew could do it. Andrew has specialist knowledge of the medical industry, his wife is a GP and he understands how it works, like the government funding, dealing with ACC and the Ministry of Health.”
With Janice’s acquired business experience and Dr Choi’s experience as a clinic partner, they are confident running most of the day-to-day financial side of the business themselves.
Andrew provides advice on high level taxation, business and finance matters. The Accounting Hub also take care of the GST returns and end of year financials.
“Andrew is tech savvy, he set up Xero for us very quickly. It allows us have access to the analytics easily and saves us time.
“We use the Receiptbank app which is great. It captures a lot of data with their AI and help us to reduce manual data input.
“Andrew is always quick to reply, some accountants are not that helpful!”
It’s been a pleasure working with Dr Choi, Janice and the team at Grafton Medical. While we look after their financial health, we recommend they look after your personal health. They welcome patients of all ethnicities, sexual orientation, age and values. They have built a smart business built on strong morals and clear goals and we have enjoyed working with them to bring the practice to fruition. To join their centre or get in touch, you can contact them here.