Interview with Dr Francois Fong | Neo-Health Group’s new facilities in Central, HK.
We are speaking for a second time with Dr. Francois Fong, who is the Founder and CEO of the Neo-Health Group in Hong Kong, a holistic health provider, also a world leading specialist in the area of sexually transmitted diseases. Today, we have a more specialized topic, because Neo-Health has moved into a new facility, quite state of the art. So, we thought it would be useful for viewers, whether they’re existing clients of Neo-Health Group, or perhaps prospective ones, to give a walking tour to show what the facility is like, where it’s located, for people who have an interest in private health care.
You can see the first interview with NHG here: https://seiml.com/venture/interview-with-dr-francois-fong-managing-director-neo-health-group/
Script of Interview
Interviewee Dr. Francois Fong (FF)
Position Managing Director
Company name Neo-Health Group
Company website URL http://www.neohealth.com.hk
Interviewer John D. Evans, CFA (JE)
Interview conducted on 31st March 2021
JE: Okay, good afternoon to the viewers. This is another episode of SEIML Ventures. We are speaking for a second time with Dr. Francois Fong, who is the Founder and CEO of the Neo- Health Group in Hong Kong, a holistic health provider, also a world leading specialist in the area of sexually transmitted diseases. We did a previous interview with Dr. Fong, you’ll see the link on the podcast that you’re looking at if you want to revisit it. Today, we have a more specialized topic, because Neo-Health has moved into a new facility, quite state of the art. So, we thought it would be useful for viewers, whether they’re existing clients of Neo-Health Group, or perhaps prospective ones, to give a walking tour to show what the facility is like, where it’s located, for people who have an interest in in private health care. So good afternoon, Francois. Well, how are you?
FF: Good afternoon I am well, John.
JE: Good to hear on this on this Easter weekend, and also a holiday in China. So, we’re both working. Let’s kickoff. So, as we start, in the background the viewers will see a map of your office and the general area around. Now you were previously just across the street in the Li Dong building in Li Yuen East Street. How long had you been at that address? Was it your first location as a clinic? And secondly, when did you move into the new premises at your current location World-Wide House?
FF: We have been in Li Dong building for 12 years, since 2008. Prior to that, we were in a smaller building across from the Four Seasons Hotel, a building called New York House and it’s a much smaller location. So, in 2008, when we moved to Li Dong we had occupied one floor and we have developed over the years and were occupying three floors at Li Dong. But each floor the floor space was much smaller. So, after 12 years, we decided we moved into a bigger location and putting all the services and facility on the same floor.
JE: Okay, I’ve seen the facilities. So, I also sense that the World-Wide House is a much more modern building than the Li Dong so there’s a change in that regard as well. Okay, so making a move of a large clinic such as yours, is that difficult to do? Does it take a long time to find the right new location? How many properties did you have to look at before you settled on World- Wide House?
FF: Well, we’ve only looked at looked at about half a dozen properties. For our requirement we want to have all our facilities on the same floor and there aren’t many buildings in Central there has got large enough floor size that will accommodate our needs. And therefore we have only probably look at just about half a dozen and some of them were much smaller on the terms of floor place. So that’s why we eventually chose the World-Wide House.
JE: Okay, now we’ll take a look at some photographs, we’ve labeled them all and the viewers will be seeing them on the screen. There are some exterior shots of the World-Wide House, A2 and A3. Now when I look at the address it says 19 Des Voeux Road. Is this the street you enter from or are there multiple addresses?
FF: Sorry, sorry, John. The filming crew is still here. Okay. Okay. We just took the last part again John.
JE: So, I was just asking about the address. The postal address is 19 Des Voeux Road, is this the
only entrance to the building or are there multiple entrances to get into World-Wide House?
FF: Yes, there are altogether three entrances. So, one is on Des Veoux Road, which is the main address. There’s another entrance on the other side of the building on Connaught Road and there’s a third entrance from the bridge way in Central which connects IFC, Jardine House, World-Wide House and many other buildings in central location and that entrance go into the shopping mall in World-Wide House which can directly go back into the commercial areas.
JE: Okay. Yeah, I see on photograph A2 the over the street walkway, I see in A3 the entrance. You’re right beside the Metro. So, it’s very centrally located, no pun intended, but also very different access points. So very easy to get inside. Okay. Now, we’ll be looking at the building, it seems to be 32 stories high. And you’re on the 11th floor. Is that correct?
FF: Yep, that’s right, John.
JE: Okay, so we’ll, we’ll move along. And we’ve added a photo here, A3a, of the elevator bank. So are there dedicated elevators for your floor, do elevators serve all 32 floors? How does getting up to Neo-Health Group office on the 11th work?
FF: The building is divided into three sections. And each section has got four individual lifts that go to each floor. So, for our section from 4th floor to the 12th floor where four lifts actually go up to each floor.
JE: Okay, so it’s very quick and convenient. Because I remember at the previous location, there were just two elevators for the whole building. So, a lot more elevator access in your new building. That’s good to hear. Okay, now, let’s just sort of pretend we’re taking the elevator up from the photograph and A3a, we get off at the 11th floor, we see photograph A4. And I notice you have two separate units on the 11th floor, one for the clinic, one for the office, just describe that setup in general.
FF: Yeah, in the past, we had corporate office and the clinical area on separate floors. And we found there was a little bit less convenient for staff to move around and also be for logistic reasons. So, we decided to have the two merge together. So, we are now occupying two units on the World-Wide House. And one part is the corporate office and the other part is the clinical area.
JE: All on the same floor. So very convenient for staff to get back and forth from. Okay, so now let’s, firstly, move and take a tour of the clinic. And you’ve provided us with a lot of photos there from basically P1 to P18a. So, I will just read these out. And you can give the viewers a brief description of each of the photo, which will give them a good walking tour, firstly, of the clinic. So, start us off with P1.
FF: So P1 is our main waiting area for patients who come in and do their registrations and waiting to see the doctors or other therapist. And then P2 is our main reception area. So, staff will be greeting patients from there, doing payments, and also giving out medications to them at the front.
JE: Okay, and P3 is an another shot of the reception area like P1. It seems quite spacious and quite bright, bright colors, whites. So that’s very interesting to see. So, I see a painting in P3 and I’m guessing that P4 is sort of, ‘turn right at the painting’. Tell us what’s down that hallway.
FF: Yep, so as we walk down P3 towards the painting on the right-hand side is our doctors’ consultation rooms and you can see the corridor with different room name, numbering in P4.
JE: How many different doctor’s consultation rooms do you have in the clinic?
FF: We have we have six consultation rooms and one surgical room. Okay, and then two nurses’ rooms at the back.
JE: So, nine rooms in total, quite large. Okay. So, then we go along and we’re in P5. What is P5,
looks like a different sort of waiting area?
FF: Yes, P5 is a separate, what we call, VIP waiting area. So, for some patients who require more discreet privacy, that will be the area we put them into rather than waiting in the open area.
JE: Okay, so two different reception areas depending on the level of privacy needed for the consultation. That’s interesting. Okay, so we go on and look at P6. Now we’re into some sort of office here, it looks different. Tell us about P6.
FF: P6 is one of our consultation room and we set this up as a health screening office. So, patients who come in for their body checks, they will use, occupy this room, and which have different requirements, including the body composition measurements, machine, ECG, the blood pressure monitoring device, so that they will have the general health screen in one place.
JE: And health screening services are an important component of the services you offer. Is that correct?
FF: Yeah, that’s right. We provide individuals general health screening services and also to some corporations for their staff annual medical checkup as well.
JE: Okay, interesting. So, onto P7, what do we have here?
FF: So P7 is my consultation room. So similar to other consultation rooms where we see patients in our individual rooms.
JE: Okay, so you spend most of your day in your clinical office, as opposed to the corporate office. Is that correct?
FF: Yeah, that’s right.
JE: Now I’m just looking at that painting behind you, is that where you are now? Or are you out in the corporate office?
FF: Yeah, I am at the clinical office.
JE: Okay, interesting. Now, P8 is a different sort of photo. It’s some very big chair, and I know you don’t have dentists there. So, tell us a little bit about what this is, is all about.
FF: Well, this is a fully electrical surgical chair that we have newly installed. This chair can position at different locations, set in different positions, so that we can perform different types of surgery on patients from cosmetic surgery, like lying flat for other minor surgeries, but we particularly like this chair, because it has got some tilting mechanism at the lower end. So, two of our services particularly require this setup for the colposcopy servers for several cancer screening, and also anal cancer screening.
JE: Okay, interesting. I mean, beyond checkup, wellness, diagnostics, do you also perform minor surgeries in the clinic?
FF: Yeah, we perform minor surgery, usually surgery that doesn’t require general anesthetic we can perform at our center.
JE: Okay, very interesting. So, moving along to P9, a more traditional looking pair of chairs. What do we have there?
FF: Well, P9 and P10 are two of our nursing rooms. So, a patient who comes in without any major symptoms, just coming in for regular checkout for either STDs or general checkup, where they just require simple blood test service. Those are the rooms that will set up for them to have the quick service.
JE: Okay. Now, as we move along into, I guess the remaining shots of the clinics, P11 to P18, we’re into a much bigger facility. Tell us what this is. And just walk us through each of those individual photos, it looks like a lot of equipment there.
FF: Yeah, a major part of our facility is a clinical laboratory service. So, from P11 is the entrance of our laboratory. And P12 is a whole length shot, the whole laboratory from the front to the very end. So, it is in the way unique in our service that we have our own laboratory, so patients can receive the test result in a much, much faster pace than if we had to send out samples to other laboratories.
JE: Okay, do you do a large percentage or all of your testing in the lab internally? Or do you need to send some of it out for diagnostics?
FF: Well, 90% of test samples we can process in our lab, only about 10% we need to
send out to other laboratories.
JE: Okay. I mean, is that typical for a GP clinic to have such a large lab on premises and do 90% of their testing in-house?
FF: No, it is not common. Most doctors would send out their samples to outside lab for testing. But because we would like a quicker turnaround for our patients and also so that their private information would not necessarily be released to outsiders. And that’s why we decided to have our own laboratory. And also from a quality assurance point of view, we can actually see some of the results as raw data rather than just in getting a piece of report as a piece of paper.
JE: Okay, and I guess the whole area of sexually transmitted diseases raises real privacy issues for a lot of people so I can understand that point. Okay.
FF: So, I guess another important part of having our own laboratory is we actually have those clinical samples kept for research purposes.
JE: Yes, that I mean, that’s, I think another unique aspect about NHG, Neo-Health Group and that you do a lot of research and development, whereas a lot of GP practices don’t do that.
FF: That’s right.
JE: Okay. So, let’s look at some of the equipment in P13 through P18. Talk us through those photographs.
FF: P13 and P14 are two of the laser machines that we have. And we conduct a lot of the infection immunology is those two machines, from HIV to hepatitis, H pylori infections. Those are the machines that we use for testing our blood samples. And with the P14 Elisa machine by Abbott, we also can do hormones, cancer markers, and a whole variety of immune assays using that machine.
JE: Okay, interesting, and P15.
FF: And P15 are some of the equipment’s that we use for biochemistry, and also cancer markers, and also cell counters to check or represent on whether cell and platelet counts. Those are usually used for the general health checkups,
JE: Okay, and P 16, 17 and 18. Looking at different equipment in those three pictures
FF: A lot of our test samples, we perform molecular tests on DNAs. And so P16 and 17 are our extraction room. So, extract DNA from samples, and P16 is a PCR room to actually magnify those DNA samples, and to perform tests on particular STD HIV infections. We use the molecular room mostly.
JE: Very interesting.
FF: And the P18 is also a microbiology area where we have a PCR machine, HIV testing machine, and also culture machine for incubation for bacterial samples.
JE: Okay, before we walk out of the clinic, in photograph, P18a, how many people work on the clinical side? And how many would be in sort of the GP assessment side, and how many would be in the lab?
FF: We have about 20 staff on the clinical area, excluding doctors and other professionals. And we have about 10 staff in the back office.
JE: Okay. So fairly substantial. So, I understand that P18a, that the viewers will see, we’ll be walking back out to the corridor, back into the hall. And then we’ll turn and go down to the office starting in P19a, which I guess is just looking in. Tell us a little bit about that office and how many people work in there?
FF: Well, we have about 10 people working in the back office now. That covers the HR department, finance department, marketing, and our logistics support team. And we also have more team members to cover for other business units, including Neo- Pharm, which is a wholesaling unit for HIV prevention medications.
JE: Okay, and when I look in P19a, very closely to the window and the other side, I see a Ferris wheel. So, I’m guessing that is looking in the direction of the Harbor towards the north. Is that correct?
FF: Yes, that’s right.
JE: Okay, so the people looking into Victoria Harbour, the people in the office have a room with a view. Okay. And then P20 and 21 I guess at the unit you talked about 21 is a meeting room.
FF: Yeah, John, just hold on. I’m running out of battery and maybe get a power supply to okay. Okay, John, I’m back.
JE: We have power. Yeah, okay, good stuff. And I notice you’re uploading very, very quickly so that that’s a good sign. Okay, so we’ve completed the tour of the office. And we’ll just leave photo X1 of your logo on and just finish off with a few comments looking towards the future. Now you’re in a bigger, more modern office. I know you’re looking at expansion, although perhaps more in the telemedicine than the physical ofices. How do you see the World-Wide House over the next three to five years? Is this going to be big enough to accommodate all your activity or expansion? What’s Neo-Health going to look like in in three years’ time?
FF: Well, I hope we’ll need more room for expansions. Actually, the landlord has asked us to rent the next unit. They’re right next to our current unit already. But I think with the uncertainty we have with COVID we have to be very conservative in our expansion. But I think telemedicine is a very important move for us. In terms of particular for our STD diagnostic service, a lot of people are really concerned about privacy and reluctance to come out to clinics to actually get tested. And I think a telemedicine service and diagnostic service would be very useful for this group of people so that they don’t delay their treatment and seeing doctors. Okay, so we hope we actually need more space. But for the time being we can make use our space and make it more occupied.
JE: Okay, very good. That’d be interesting to see there’s a lot of photographs there that are high quality. And for any person who’s perhaps considering new private GP services in Hong Kong that has not seen Neo-Health before I hope this is an informative and interesting tour for them. And on the release of the video will of course have all the contact details and websites of the Neo-Health Group headquarters in Central so that people can contact you directly, if relevant, so thank you for the time. Thank you for the photos. And we’re looking forward to sharing this with our viewers on Venture Watch.
FF: Thank you very much, John.