The Age / Sydney Herald: Physiotherapist pushes for more integrated healthcare
Josh Jennings – The Age
HEALTH JUNE 10 2017
Listening to physiotherapist Matt Stanlake, there are two ways of thinking about the chronic immune system disease that struck him in his early 20s. On one hand, the disease can be characterised as a decade of really poor health experiences that sidelined him from two careers he was passionate about. On the other, it can be understood as a turning point.
According to Stanlake, in the absence of his ill health, his career outlook would probably be different today.
“I’m 95 per cent sure I wouldn’t have gone down this track,” he says. “I just saw a huge opportunity to help others get through their conditions with something like what we’ve created.”
Stanlake is the founder and managing director of Upwell Health Collective, a multi-disciplinary healthcare service centre offering integrated clinical services targeting musculoskeletal injury and illness, along with fitness, wellness and healthy ageing programs.
His role is extensively informed by his experiences as both a health practitioner and health consumer and it involves a busy mix of business and finance, marketing and overseeing the direction of the Upwell’s clinical activity and healthcare model.
He wanted to create a health and wellbeing space where patients could see a team of collaborative healthcare practitioners from different professionals who were all in synch with one another. “I was forever tripping around to different places in Melbourne,” says Stanlake of his experiences as a patient. “I was getting conflicting advice from one therapist to a doctor to a physio to a massage. “Everyone was saying something different and no one was communicating.”
Stanlake graduated in physiotherapy at Latrobe University in 2005 and was a senior physiotherapist before his disease made the physical demands of that job too problematic. He switched to a sales and marketing executive role with Melbourne beverage company MADE Group, where he accumulated valuable professional development experiences in marketing, business and product design, before his illness interfered again.
After the beverage company however, he was gorged with business acumen, which he now uses to support a team of 30-plus leading health practitioners including physiotherapists, occupational therapists and podiatrists “We’ve had some of the best in the business apply and they are now delivering the best outcomes to our patients,” says Stanlake.
The centre, a $1.6 million start-up that only recently opened, anticipates providing care for more than 20,000 new patients a year.
Stanlake, who has reevaluated his own health while getting the centre operational, says he wants to motivate patients to proactively embrace responsibility for their own health and wellbeing in an uplifting setting. “I implemented a number of strategies I can do at Upwell to improve my own health to manage my condition,” he says. “We’re there to empower our patients with all of the correct tools, expertise, equipment and the best environment to allow them to achieve their optimal health.”