Turning Failures Around, Low Lee Yong

Even when the going gets tough, giving up is not an option, says Dr Low Lee Yong, founder and CEO of Make Health Connect (MHC).
Turning Failures Around, Low Lee Yong

Within the first two years of my solo medical practice, I had noticed that I was fighting a losing battle – a small-time practitioner going up against the giants of big established practices. Whether it was buying drugs or attracting more patients, my small practice had to compete against the sheer economies of scale of the bigger players. I could have just gone with the flow and be content with a life of always struggling to survive in this big fish-small fish dynamics. Or I could dream big. I decided to go with the latter and that was how MHC (Make Health Connect) came into being.

MHC is now an established managed care and third-party administrator in Singapore, facilitating cashless out-patient visits through an extensive network of clinics in Asia.

But MHC didn’t materialise overnight. Nor did it come about by a stroke of luck or genius. It came about painstakingly through sweat, tears and failures.

When I started MHC, I was young and inexperienced. I sought safety in numbers by recruiting classmates and friends to form a bigger network to attract more corporate clients.

That approach had an inherent flaw – with many partners governing a single entity and no proper business operation, the network became a breeding ground for internal conflicts and cash flow haemorrhage. In no time, we were $300,000 in debt, with unhappy doctors demanding to be paid and disgruntled clients filing complaints over the phone, almost non-stop. Also, as there was no proper IT system to link up clinics or process medical claims efficiently during the initial stage of setting up MHC, data processing and administrative work became tedious. The business suffered great losses and MHC went into further debt, owing its corporate shareholders nearly $1.5 million. It seemed doomed to fail.

But MHC didn’t materialise overnight. Nor did it come about by a stroke of luck or genius. It came about painstakingly, through sweat, tears and failures.

But instead of allowing the administrative mess to grow out of control and drive the company into bankruptcy, I re-evaluated the system and came up with a solution – I needed a more efficient modern Web-based system that would improve the running of the business. I proceeded to build one, and made the bold move to stop all existing contracts with doctors to force them to embrace the new Web-based system. It worked and the business turned around.

The lesson I learnt – don’t let failures take you out. Instead, take them on. Look at the problem, study the cause(s) of failure and tackle the problem head-on to increase your chance of success. Challenges, problems and failure may be inevitable in life, but they don’t have to bring us down. If we dare to fail, success may be just a dare away.

Dr Low Lee Yong is the founder and CEO of MHC. The author of the book, I Dare to Dream, he has garnered many awards such as the International Management Action Award by the Chartered Management Institute Singapore. He’s currently working on his second book, tentatively entitled I Dare to Fail. He gives back to the community by supporting Goducate, a non-profit organisation helping the needy in Asia.

    Jul 24, 2013
    Dr Low Lee Yong
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