Goodbody Health Inc. (AQSE:GDBY) Chief Executive Officer Marc Howells caught up with DirectorsTalk for an exclusive interview to discuss the under-resourced and overburden NHS, the change in how people are managing their health, how they are meeting the massive growing demand for services and continuing to grow at speed.
Q1: COVID has created this perfect storm of rising health-related risks in the UK population at a time when the NHS is under-resourced and overburdened. What’s your view on this?
A1: Firstly, I’d say that I think we all as a nation applaud the employees of the NHS for the amazing work that they do and for what they’ve been able to do over such an unprecedented pandemic.
However, if we go back a couple of years, even before the pandemic, it was very clear the excessive backlogs were building up in the NHS and its ability to meet the demand with the capacity it had. Add into that what happened on Brexit and post-Brexit, a significant number of people being repatriating to their own countries. You then layer the pandemic on top of that which has significantly changed people’s attitude towards their health and position on their health. It’s just created a perfect storm for the NHS where it’s struggling to keep up with the backlog and it’s even forecasting those backlogs will increase over the next five years so it’s a very challenging time for the NHS.
One of the results of the pandemic as well is that people are far more inquisitive on their health and want to take more control of their health, not just on diagnostics and treatment but also on prevention. People are now used to going into the pharmacist and going into their doctors to enquire about their health without waiting for symptoms or without waiting to feel poorly. So, there’s a huge increase in customer awareness, customer desire to know more about their health and that’s impacting on an already over-stretched NHS.
Q2: Given that dismal backdrop, are we really seeing a change in how people manage their health?
A2: We are, and you can see that with the incredible increase of people requesting blood tests, requesting allergy tests, requesting intolerance tests. Just to put it into perspective, the vitamin business alone in the UK is a £1.5 billion business and that’s grown exponentially during the pandemic and since the pandemic.
So, you can see that people are taking more control over their health, over feeling well as you know, in Goodbody Health we use the phrase ‘Know More, Live Better’, that it’s know more about your health, know more about what your blood is telling you and be able to manage and control the outcomes and manage your lifestyle. We believe wellness I very much a lifestyle choice. If you look at the millennials today, they’re actually called ‘the wellness generation’ and that is managing and taking control of their wellness rather than just relying purely on the NHS.
If you look at the situation we have in the country and how it’s historically developed, you never check your blood, you go to the doctor when you’re feeling unwell and the doctor will take a blood test or instruct a blood test and then determine the results of that. You check your car on a regular basis, you check your boiler on a regular basis and you go to the dentist at least twice if not more a year to check your teeth but there’s not a culture in place of checking your blood which is probably the biggest commodity that you have, it determines how healthy you are.
So, we’re seeing a significant increase now in people wanting to check their blood to determine their wellness and determine their health and have more access to that information so that they can control and manage it as they move forward.
Q3: How is the company meeting the massive growing demand for your services?
A3: As fast as we can. We’re bringing innovative technology into the industry, we now operate through over 200 pharmacies, we have devices that will mean that you do not have to go into the doctor, have your blood taken at the doctors, go through a courier, go to the lab and experience the huge time delays doing that. You can go into one of our pharmacy’s and have a blood test with the results in several minutes, not five plus weeks.
The devices we’re using are Abbott devices which are NHS-approved devices and we have those in 111 pharmacies today and we’ve grown that network as fast as we can. We’re trying to achieve that through bringing in the technology into the local pharmacies because the pharmacies are in the position of offering these services outside of the general NHS.
Q4: It looks as though Goodbody Health is developing into an impressive health provider. Can you continue to grow at speed?
A4: Absolutely. I’m acquiring these devices as fast as I can, we are signing up pharmacies as fast as we can, there’s more innovative technology coming into the market which we’ll announce in the near future, that’s very exciting and enables to continue to disrupt the existing market. There are 11,700 pharmacies out there and we’re currently in 200 so there’s a huge opportunity to extend our services over the existing market and experience in the UK to allow people on a national basis to have access to their blood and to what their blood is telling them.
So, we’re very exciting about our growth plan and how we’re executing that growth.