Connie Porter – Ramsay Health Care

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Connie, you are the Chief Executive Officer with the Port Macquarie facilities of Ramsay Health Care. Can you please give us some insight into what your current role involves?

Ramsay Health Care – Port Macquarie is made up of Port Macquarie Private Hospital, Coolenberg Day Surgery and Hastings Health Centre (formerly known as Hastings Day Surgery). Ramsay is the largest owner and operator of private hospitals in Australia and the fifth largest in the world. Our hospital has been a part of the local community for over 35 years. In partnership with the exceptional group of medical specialists we are lucky enough to have in Port Macquarie we provide surgical, medical and rehabilitation services.

We strive to provide excellent health care to our patients and offer a choice for people who are looking to have their health care needs met in a private hospital setting with their choice of doctor.

We employ over 230 people across the sites and care for more than 11,000 patients each year. In my role as CEO I am responsible for all aspects of the business, including strategy, resource management (human, financial and capital), development, community engagement, marketing and anything else that comes up.

I could never really describe a normal day, because every day there is something different to do and for me, that is what keeps my role dynamic. Hospitals are such interesting and complex places to work. My role as CEO is challenging and rewarding, juggling competing priorities with the end goal of meeting our patients’ and doctors’ expectations and providing a valuable service that makes people want to keep their private health insurance and access our services.

The health care industry is currently responsible for a large proportion of employment in the Hastings region. How important do you think the health care industry is in the growth of Port Macquarie as a region? And what do you think we can do as a region to foster this industry growth?

Health care is a growing employer across our community. Access to health care is a big factor for people when they are choosing to make a community their home. From my perspective, it is imperative that we have a healthy public and private offering of health care services in our community. This ensures that we are able to continue to attract and retain excellent doctors. We are very fortunate in Port Macquarie to have so many excellent medical specialists who are committed to the growth of services locally. This means we are able to access excellent health care close to home. To continue to support the health care industry, it is important that we utilise our local services. This will ensure there is an opportunity to grow the services that can be offered.

What changes have you noticed in the health care industry over the last decade or so, and how have you had to adapt to cater for these?

Changing patient expectations. I think currently consumers of health care are better informed and demand a different level of interaction with health services, and rightly so. This has forced operators like Ramsay Health Care to try and understand what the consumer / customer / patient wants and to strive to meet those expectations.

One way we have tried to meet this challenge locally is the initiation of a Community Advisory Council, where we have representatives from the community who advise the hospital on all manner of things – strategy, brochures, policy from the patient perspective. We have found this engagement invaluable and have made some real changes with the influence of that committee.

Rapidly changing technology is another growing challenge … Trying to balance the growing costs of technology, the outcomes it may provide and the constant change in preference. In my role, the challenge is deciding when to invest capital in equipment and training, and when to hold off.

You are an ambitious person who has successfully worked your way up through the ranks to positions of leadership within your organisation. What personally drives you to succeed in business?

My drive comes from genuinely loving what I do. Hospitals are people places, dealing with the team, doctors, patients, visitors and contractors every day to work towards a vision of providing excellent care.

You deal with people at their best and their worst. I thrive on hoping that I can make a difference and enable our team to make a difference – what a privilege.

What would you class as your biggest career achievement to date?

Balancing a promotion to the role as CEO with a 6-month old baby boy. What a challenge those first 12 months were, but I didn’t survive – I thrived. Of course, that wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the company and my team, but more importantly the unwavering support of my husband, Andrew.

What is the most rewarding part about your role?

Working with people who care about what they do, why they are doing it and making a difference to patients. In my experience, patients who end up in hospital rarely want to be in that situation. I believe in trying to make the hospital experience as caring and as compassionate as possible. The hospital’s reputation in the community is based on delivering excellent care to our patients. This is driven by our wonderful team, who strive to deliver the very best care to each of our patients. Our team consistently go above and beyond; I firmly believe that is what sets us apart. The Ramsay philosophy is about “people caring for people”, which is what we do each and every day at the Private Hospital.

And what are some of the biggest challenges you face within your role?

Trying to keep everyone happy – which is really like chasing the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

And finally, if you could invite any three business people to lunch, who would they be and why would you invite them?

Dame Quintin Bryce – she is such an inspirational woman for modern Australia, and I love her sense of style and her suits. Dolly Parton – successful and mostly because I love her music. To balance the table, I think I would invite Richard Branson – wildly successful, passionate and slightly cheeky. Could you imagine the conversation!

Thanks for your time, Connie.

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