Success Stories

Skin Smart: Life saving goes mobile

Jessica Rowe
Culture Journalist

Jessica Rowe is a Melbourne-based writer with a passion for not-for-profits, the digital world and making a difference

Jessica Rowe
Culture Journalist

Jessica Rowe is a Melbourne-based writer with a passion for not-for-profits, the digital world and making a difference

We all use technology differently. But for one small business, it’s given them the opportunity to educate and potentially save Australians from melanoma – the number one cancer killer among those 17-44 years of age.

According to the Melanoma Institute of Australia, 30 Aussies are diagnosed with melanoma every day, and 1,200 will die from it every year. Yet it’s one of the easiest to treat if it’s caught early on, which makes getting into a doctor for a check so important. For many, making the decision to get into a doctor without obvious symptoms doesn’t rate that high up on the priority list.

It’s this misconception that Jane Homberger and Hillary McGregor, founders of Skin Smart Australia, decided to tackle head on. Technology has created a whole new business model that allows them to take their mole-mapping clinic to the masses, rather than waiting for them to walk through the doors of a clinic.

A woman walks on a street wearing a hat

A ray of light

Jane and Hillary both have a background in nursing which inspired their studies at the Skin Cancer College Australasia.

After working in traditional skin cancer clinics and scanning people who were being proactive about their health, they thought about the people who weren’t – those who were either time poor or hadn’t thought about getting their skin checked. It was this thought that inspired the corporate side (mobile clinics) of Skin Smart Australia. 

“What we find when we see clients in the corporate setting, is the majority of them haven’t had skin checks before, and they all say to us, ‘this is an incredible service, if you hadn’t come to us we wouldn’t have ever had this done’,” says Jane. 

On the road

Traditional skin cancer clinics don’t go out on site. Instead, patients have to personally arrange their own appointments. However, Skin Smart Australia’s promise is that they’re prepared to go anywhere.

“If a client comes to us and says, ‘look, we are in the middle of nowhere’ – that is absolutely fine. We will come to you,” says Jane.  Whether it’s Darwin or Davenport, nowhere is too far for Skin Smart Australia and its team.

Like any mobile business, it relies heavily on technology and access to a reliable mobile network.

“We actually changed our phone provider to Telstra at the start of the year because we spend so much time in remote areas. We need to be contacted pretty much 24/7 to keep the business running. Also, the other thing that we do is provide a lot of support for our staff on site.”

The importance of training

Ensuring your team is equipped with the right skills and is continually learning is key to success, growth and customer satisfaction. And when you’re working in the medical field, training and contact is crucial. It can be the difference between life and death.

Training and passion have been instrumental to Skin Smart Australia’s growth. In their first year (2012), they performed two and a half thousand skin cancer assessments; between August and December 2014, they performed a staggering ten and a half thousand.

“Because our staff are scattered all over Australia, ongoing training is probably one of the most important things that we do with them, and being [with] access to the internet and Skype, we’re able to send them task sheets.

“We can talk to them on the phone while we have images, and get them to assess images to make sure that they are improving all the time.” 

Changing lives

Jane and Hillary stress that melanoma doesn’t discriminate.

“There isn’t one person out there who doesn’t need a skin check at some point. One of the points that we always bring up when we are on site with people to push that point home is that Bob Marley passed away from a melanoma that got under his toenail.”

Winner of a Telstra Victorian Business Award in 2015 and now Bupa Wellness’ preferred partner, there’s a lot to learn from Jane and Hillary’s passion. Combining your existing skills and qualifications with technology and innovation can give birth to ideas that not only change lives, but save them. 

The sunny side of business

“I always pinch myself and say, ‘how did this all happen we’ve been so lucky’, but I suppose that it was all about grasping that opportunity and really going with it. 

“Knowing that we can offer a service that can really change peoples’ lives, is probably the biggest measure of success,” says Jane.

Mobile is also helping businesses across Australia get in touch with suppliers and teams.

 Read PB Seeds’ story here.  

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