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Case study: Cairns Fertility Clinic

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Three years ago Doug Yek, Dr John Yovich and his wife Jeanne launched an ambitious plan to open an IVF clinic and day hospital in the tourist town of Cairns. Already running a successful fertility clinic in Perth, they formulated a bid to capture the potentially lucrative medical tourism market where patients come for world-class IVF treatment and spend their free time frolicking in a town with good tourist infrastructure. Patients stay on site in 5-star luxury apartments and may elect to have other surgery, perhaps dental or cosmetic procedures. "We’re trying to make it a one-stop shop for patients," says financial controller Yek. The centre has been open for 12 months and while currently only 5 percent of patients come from overseas Yek and his partners hope to increase that ratio to 50 percent of clients in the next two years. "Our first international market will be Papua New Guinea, which is only one hour’s flight from Cairns," Yek says. "With all the oil and gas projects in PNG we plan to target mining companies and suggest they use our facility as a fly-in/fly-out medical hub." The day hospital attached to the clinic has two surgical theatres and also offers cosmetic, dental and general surgery, and urology and opthamology treatment. A team also visited Guam last year to sell Australia as an alternative to Hawaii for tourists seeking IVF or medical treatment. Concentrating on these two markets is enough for present, but Yek says Indonesia, with its rising middle class and limited health system, will be their next big target. While he expects the strong dollar will prove a challenge, Yek says the clinic has already broken even. "Whatever we do in the future, it’s going to be a profitable venture."

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