Who are you and what business did you start?
I am Dr Sarah Tedjasukmana, a Sydney General Practitioner and a mother. Together with my colleague, Dr Angela Rassi, I have started Sydney Perinatal Doctors. This is a home visit and telehealth GP service for mothers and babies in Sydney’s Inner West, and sometimes a little further afield. We help with pre-conception check ups, fertility issues, pregnancy care (including antenatal shared care which is the most common way people are cared for during pregnancy, with their care shared between the hospital and a nominated GP). We see Mums and babies for their post partum checks. We offer lactation consultancy (breastfeeding help) and sleep and settling advice.
What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
Angela and I are both mothers and GPs. We realised that a lot of women struggle to find postnatal and lactation support as it is a special interest area that not all GPs provide. We also realised that it’s often hard to get out of the house in the early post partum period or when you are heavily pregnant. Women pay quite a bit of money for lactation consultants with no medicare or private health rebate. Lactation Consultant is not a protected term – some have extensive training and experience and are wonderful, but advice often differs a lot.
There is also a lot of mixed information on the internet etc. With our interest in caring for women in the perinatal period, our personal experience as mothers, and the extra training we have done, we are wanting to offer women quality evidence-based care in the comfort of their own home. We have the benefit of (most of) our services attracting a medicare rebate meaning that women are less out of pocket. We are also a bit of a one-stop shop in that we can prescribe medication when appropriate, order pathology tests etc. So for example, a women with lactation issues may see a lactation consultant who suggests trialing medication to increase supply – they have to suggest they see their GP to ask about this. We can go to a woman’s house, diagnose and troubleshoot her issues, and prescribe the medication if appropriate.
Describe the process of launching the business.
The hardest thing was naming ourselves!
Due to covid lockdowns, we did most of our early work via email and zoom. We spent time defining what we wanted to provide, and also discussing what we didn’t want to or couldn’t provide. We then spent time trying to find a name that we though encompassed our services and ideals, whilst also being adequately descriptive.
Once we settled on the name, we quickly nabbed the social media handles and website domains, and registered our business.
We were very grateful that social media linked us in with a colleague in Melbourne providing a similar service, and she kindly answered all our questions about what she was doing.
We started to attract attention with Instagram posts and word of mouth while we set everything up. Neither of us have ever owned or run a business before so it’s been a steep learning curve. We are a 2 woman show at the moment, so creating all our own graphics (thanks Canva), Instagram posts, marketing, and I even learned to use Squarespace to create our website – another new skill! Setting up a medical practice requires a lot of medicare paperwork, organising insurances etc. Once we had set up our website and software, and arranged all the necessary paperwork, we also had to make sure we had everything we needed for home visits. Portable sphygmomanometers (for measuring blood pressure), baby weighing scales, script pads etc.
It took about 2 months from agreeing we would do this to actually launching and waiting for our first patient.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Most of our patients so far have come from 3 sources: word of mouth (including wonderful friends and colleagues of ours who are excitedly telling everyone they know about our business), Instagram and Google.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
We’ve only been live for about 6 weeks now but we each have a few patients booked each week. We both also work as part time “normal” GPs in physical practices, so at the moment this is our side hustle. We hope that as this takes off we will be able to increase the time we spend doing this, and potentially turn it into our main job. We have a vision for eventually also having a physical premises – a clinic dedicated to women and babies – but still offering the home visits.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I’m learning a lot about the running of a medical practice that I don’t usually have to worry about when I just go to work. I’ve learnt about making websites, and things like Instagram algorithms to try to attract interactions. I think the biggest thing I’m learning is that I can actually do this!
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Our website is hosted on Squarespace, which I have found very user friendly as someone with no coding experience. We use a lot of Instagram and a little of Facebook. Canva is proving a very useful tool for creating graphics.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Honestly the most influential resources for us have been colleagues willing to share their pearls of wisdom regarding setting up and running a medical business.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Put away the Imposter Syndrome and believe you can do this. Make sure that what you want to do does fill a hole in the market, and clearly define what you want to do.
Where can we go to learn more?
www.sydneyperinataldoctors.com.au and @sydneyperinataldoctors on instagram