ODGERS INTERIM TEAM PROFILE
Dan Kiely, Consultant in the Interim Healthcare Practice...
Dan, one of your key focuses is the Private Healthcare Market... How long have you been with the firm?
I joined Odgers Interim at the beginning of 2012, having spent the previous five years as an Interim Recruiter for another multinational firm.
What are the main areas you specialise in?
As a team, we deliver assignments across the NHS, Private Healthcare and the various Health-related regulators and my personal focus is on the latter two areas. In terms of roles, I divide my time between Change/Transformation-led work (Programme Managers/Directors, Turnaround experts etc) and the more traditional ‘Interim Executive’ positions such as COOs, CFOs and Chief Executives/ MDs.
What kinds of clients do you work with and where are they based?
Private Healthcare firms come in all shapes and sizes; from private hospital operators to care home providers, optical/dental services, specialist diagnostic services or, more recently, privately-owned businesses that provide NHS services to the public. The regulators are a little easier to define as there are 12 professional bodies in the UK known as ‘Health and Social Care regulators’ with each being responsible for a different profession. Alongside these bodies are the larger sector regulators such as the Care Quality Commission and Monitor. My remit is nationwide, so I do spend a lot of my time travelling around the country.
How has the Private Healthcare sector shifted over the past couple of years?
The Health & Social Care Act of 2012 has led to a seismic shift in the Private Health sector. On one hand, there are now opportunities for private firms to bid for the right to provide NHS services to the general public; Circle running Cambridgeshire’s Hinchingbrooke Hospital, Virgin Care running community services in Surrey and Serco doing the same in Suffolk are prominent examples.
On the other hand, private hospital operators are under pressure with the big health insurers cutting margins. Thanks to an increase in the number of NHS patients they now find themselves treating, the major operators have to adjust their growth strategies accordingly.
Care home providers have justifiably come under scrutiny since the Winterbourne View abuse scandal and roughly a third of care home firms are said to be in financial difficulty. However, with an ageing population and a dramatic increase in the numbers of dementia/Alzheimer’s diagnoses, this is an area of the sector which could expand exponentially.
What sort of roles are you seeing most of at the moment?
Governance and Business/ Clinical Process Improvement Consultants are undoubtedly in-demand at the moment. Also, in the last few months I have worked with a couple of different private equity firms which were in need of an Interim CEO/MD to turn around a Healthcare business in which they had invested.
And why is that?
In theory, running a care home business or optical/dental practice should be a highly-profitable enterprise. However, investors often don’t realise that running a Healthcare business isn’t as simple as ‘keeping the costs low and the margins high’; whenever a person’s health is involved, there are intangible emotional factors which don’t appear on P&L spreadsheets. I think some firms have invested in Healthcare companies and quickly realised that they have taken on more than they originally bargained for. Interim Managers who are familiar with the sector are often able to help these firms reconcile the need for consistent high-quality care with the desire to return a profit.
What's the most interesting role you have dealt with over the past few months?
Anything turnaround or M&A related is always absolutely fascinating to be involved in. I’m currently working with a PE backed Healthcare business which is in need of some consulting expertise to assist with the smooth integration of a recent acquisition. I expect I’ll be seeing a few of these roles this year.
In one line... how do you think you add value to the organisations you work with?
I think our industry can be quick to ‘sell’ but less keen to listen, so I strive to make sure that I don’t fall into that trap. I spend a huge amount of time meeting the best interims the market has to offer so that when a client establishes a need, we can react in a matter of hours.
What are your predictions for 12 to 24 months and do you see the Private Healthcare sector shifting?
We’ll see a lot of consolidation and M&A activity throughout the sector during 2013/2014. There are a couple of care home operators which appear well-positioned to add to their portfolios and the same goes for at least one private hospital group. The relationship between the Private Sector and the NHS will be under incredible scrutiny as well. The opportunity for growth and commercial return in the sector has never been greater, but it comes with an enormous reputational risk for providers which fail to maintain acceptable standards of care quality. I’m anticipating a busy but fascinating year!
Do you have any advice for anyone who maybe looking for interim positions in your sector?
Sadly, there are still vast pockets of the NHS which insist on ‘hiring their own’ – i.e. those with significant NHS experience. This is difficult for both interim providers and interims themselves to overcome and inevitably leads to history repeating itself across troubled parts of the sector. I’m generalising of course, but private providers do tend to focus more on the nature of an Interim Manager’s experience and their directly transferrable skills. For instance, large dental/optical/care home businesses are in essence complex, multi-site operations and interims with extensive FMCG or Retail experience can often add significant value as a result.
Whilst innovation, cost-effectiveness and profitability are vitally important to private health firms, the absolute priority has to be world-class quality of care. Without it, a health business is destined to fail and Interim Managers hoping to work in the sector would do well to keep this at the forefront of everything that they do.
To learn more about Dan or his work, please do check out his profile.