Affidea to take on VHI with €25m plan for clinics
The Irish arm of European healthcare clinic chain Affidea is planning to invest €25m here over the next couple of years as it expands its number of clinics and rolls out new patient services.
Affidea Ireland, which already has 10 full-service clinics in Ireland will open new outlets in Galway and Limerick, and is also eyeing smaller clinics in Midlands towns.
And in a move set to bring it in direct competition with the VHI Swiftcare clinics in Dublin and Cork, Affidea Ireland is also going to start treating minor injuries and ailments at some of its outlets by the end of the year, according to CEO Tom Finn.
VHI announced in June that it is to close its three clinics in Dublin and Cork to non-VHI members from September 1.
With its wider clinic footprint, Affidea Ireland will now pose a significant threat to VHI.
Affidea already offers a suite of advanced diagnostic screening for patients for a range of potentially serious conditions, using state-of-the art technology including MRI and CT scanners.
Mr Finn said that the company has been looking at providing so-called 'adjacencies' for some time, in order to expand the types and number of services it offers patients. Its clinics are open to everybody, with or without health insurance.
"That's always been part of our adjacencies plan - to look at minor injuries," Mr Finn told the Irish Independent. "We have the space in clinics. Irrespective of VHI's decision, that's something we would have been looking at anyway.
"We'd already planned to have it up and running in some places by the last quarter of this year. It's part of our 2025 strategic plan to evolve the company from just diagnostics to providing as many of the adjacent services that we can.
"By 2020 we'll have a lot of those services in place, particularly in relation to outpatients and minor injuries, and various other out-of-hours services," said Mr Finn.
Affidea recently opened a €3.6m clinic in Tallaght, south Dublin, and a €2.7m clinic in Waterford.
It has 10 standalone clinics in Ireland, and also has a presence within Sligo General Hospital, and also in Northern Ireland.
Mr Finn said the company has invested €15m in its network in Ireland over the past couple of years.
As part of its expansion plan, the company is also considering smaller clinics in Midlands towns.
"There are a few smaller towns towards the Midlands that we'll look at with a different model, a different kind of centre," he said. Such clinics won't have all the highly advanced diagnostic tools available in larger clinics.
"The bigger cities have flagship centres that would have minor injuries and all the other adjacencies," he said.
Mr Finn also railed against the practice in public hospitals where insurance companies are often billed for the same services provided to patients with insurance, as the patients would have received anyway as a public patient.
"You go into a hospital now and your insurance company is billed €700 or €800 a night irrespective of which bed you're in, which I think is fundamentally wrong," said Mr Finn, a former HSE executive.
"As a taxpayer, I'm already paying for that bed. I agree with the anger of the insurance companies.
"It is fundamentally a stealth tax on people."
Read the interview in full