Specialist Orthopaedic Centre: SME Excellence Business Award & Top Business Service And Quality Award 2022/2023

Specialist Orthopaedic Centre (SOC) is a private clinic founded by Dr Kannan Kaliyaperumal, who is a registered orthopaedic specialist. The mission of the clinic is to help its patients lead quality life through providing cost-effective orthopaedic care. Empathy is a priority in relating to the patients. The cornerstone of the clinical practice is professionalism, compassion and transparent costs. Dr. Kannan has a total of more than fifteen years of experience as a specialist surgeon. He is a sub-specialised orthopaedic surgeon who focuses on lower limb reconstruction and minimally invasive surgery (MIS), with a special interest in knee, ankle & foot surgery in adults and children. He currently manages two clinic locations – one in Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre, and another in Parkway East Medical Centre. The core nature of business of SOC is the provision of specialised orthopaedic services in the private sector.

It is interesting to note that Dr Kannan stumbled into medicine and has grown to love the profession. He was the first in his family to go into medicine and his younger sister followed in his footsteps. His sister is currently also a successful specialist gastroenterologist in a government restructured hospital. Medicine appealed to him, as he was interested in sciences in Junior College. He pursued a medical degree and was awarded his Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery (M.B.B.S) by National University of Singapore. Then, he received his Postgraduate Master’s degree in orthopaedic surgery from the National University of Singapore. For his postgraduate training, he went to the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh, and became an Intercollegiate Member of the Royal College of Surgeons after receiving advanced training to be an orthopaedic surgeon. Finally, he received further postgraduate sub-specialty fellowship training in orthopedic reconstructive surgery after he was granted the Human Manpower Development Programme Ministry of Health (HMDP MOH) scholarship to train in Switzerland and the Netherlands.

The reason Dr. Kannan started his own business was because he was drawn to the independence and flexibility of medical private practice. He loved that the business was about people, and enjoyed interacting directly with his patients. He did not want to be bound to a nine-to-five job where he would have to focus on paperwork.

For Dr. Kannan, the biggest challenge that he faces is time management in the course of his work, as he does not have fixed hours. As such, he often has to sacrifice his personal and social time due to work commitments. Although it was initially challenging for him to make plans, his family and friends have come to accept his routine and are very understanding to his social and work constraints. Since every patient and surgery is different, Dr. Kannan does not like to rush through the processes with his patients.

Dr. Kannan, founder of Specialist Orthopaedic Centre

He prefers to attend to every patient thoroughly. For him, this is the nature of his profession. While attaining the skills and the knowledge is no small feat, he does not view it as the biggest hurdle that he has faced; for him, the biggest challenge will be to juggle all is professional, family & business commitments with the limited time resource that he has.

Specialist Orthopaedic Centre is different from its competitors in that it is a boutique niche one stop service provider focusing on sub-specialized orthopedic services, seamless insurance claims and extensive post-surgical follow up. The clinic is on all major corporate and shield insurance panels making it easy and accessible to clients. The majority of its clients are direct referrals and repeat clients who bring their families and friends to see Dr Kannan.  There are not many sub-specialised lower limb reconstructive surgeons in Southeast Asia as well, therefore Dr. Kannan has a fair share of clients who come from the region, mainly Indonesia, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Myanmar. Majority of his patients are between thirty to fifty years of age, who are suffering from sports injuries, deformities or who have sustained trauma. His next largest group of patients are children and teenagers who require MIS surgery, followed by the elderly, who often may require knee or hip replacement surgery, for arthritis. Dr. Kannan is a very patient-oriented doctor, and he often puts himself in his patients’ shoes. He goes the extra mile to assist his patients by working closely with insurance companies to help them get their full claims. The Centre provides many modalities for patients to reach them, on top of giving them good surgical outcomes and high success rates in their surgeries.

Specialist Orthopaedic Centre has five full-time employees, who are working respectively in appointment management, patient service, insurance claims, as well as one senior nurse whose job is to assist the doctor in surgeries.

The Centre employs the newest technologies for its services, including using the highest grade 4K High Definition cameras for arthroscopy. It uses robots to perform surgery for knee and hip replacements. The Centre utilises only the most cutting-edge materials and the highest grade implants for surgeries. Even before Covid, the Centre had begun utilising tele-medicine and tele-consulting to attend to international clients and to follow up after the surgeries. Medical Certification is issued digitally, and communication can be done digitally, as well.

The Centre’s proudest achievement, for Dr Kannan, is that he has gone from the lowest point of his business to where he is today. Although he started out in a group practice of six to seven people, he decided set up his solo practice at the peak of Covid in 2020. He was unable to physically inspect the new clinic premises he was renting in the hospital, thus he had to handle everything via video calls with the hospital management and renovation contractors. There was a low supply of drugs and consumables like masks and sanitizers. He was unable to meet key people such as insurance contacts and vendors. He was even unable to hold a ceremony to celebrate the opening of his clinic because of Covid. There was also a manpower supply deficit, as it was difficult to hire front-line workers to work in healthcare during the pandemic. He has overcome all adversity with tenacity, resilience and hard work with a “never give up” attitude!

Dr. Kannan advises young entrepreneurs to never give up despite the multitude of obstacles. He tells them, “Knock on all the doors. Go one step after another. One of the doors may open, in which case, you should seize the opportunity and just take it. It will then lead to another door. Even if it turns out to be the wrong door, that is fine. You should learn, cut your losses, and move on – until the next opportunity comes along. Honesty, hardwork and humility will open all doors sooner or later!”

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