“It’s like working in heaven,” is what the nurses at MediCall tell when you ask about their job. From an office in the Thai costal city Hua Hin they answer the emergency line and give medical guidance to Sweden during Swedish nighttime. That way Sweden-based nurses can sleep tight at night, while the Swedish nurses in Thailand take over the night shift during the day.
In 2008 Dr. Birger Rexed and his wife Karina went on holiday in Thailand to begin working on a house-project. They had no idea their holiday was going to be a permanent stay and neither the fact that they were going to make unwanted night work in Sweden turn into a dream come true in Hua Hin. A casual conversation with their mutual friend, Andreas Winqvist, the CEO of Swedish MedHelp, told the couple about an increasing problem in Sweden; the working situation was not good for Swedish nurses. The work hours were a big issue, and the nurses found the night time working uncomfortable and even a reason to quit their job. Birger and Karina Rexed saw an opportunity to take advantage of the time difference of 6 hours between Sweden and Thailand and that way make life easier. Both ways. “Why not move some of them here?”, they asked themselves. “We can take the Swedish night shift to Thailand, and they can keep their daytime in Sweden”. Dr. Birger Rexed admits his love of taking up a challenge.
“I said: let’s do this!” he smiles and looks at his wife. “Yes, let’s start it!” she replied.
The communication company MediCall was born.
Their house project which was meant for their “winter house” now was being build as the new office to MediCall for future Swedish staff.
Life made simple
Birger being a medical doctor and Karina a senior CEO and both life enjoyers, they wanted to make the best working place. They came up with a business idea which says life should be simple. Moving to another country for work should be easy too.
“Future employees only need to bring toothbrush and swimwear when they leave Sweden,” says Dr. Birger Rexed. Karina Rexed agrees.
“We are so lucky. Our idea is to make the nurses feel they’re in Paradise,” she says. MediCall provides everything for their staff: They pay for the air-ticket to Thailand, offer free housing and food, and they even serve each nurse with a weekly house cleaning done by a maid. On top of that, they are paid 16.000SEK a month. The nurses only have to focus on work – and after work, they only have to focus on having a good time.
“It’s like holiday everyday,” Karina Rexed says. When finishing their shift the nurses can go to the nearby beach and relax, while their colleagues on the other side of the world begin their morning shift.
Today, MediCall also take the calls in the night hours in Thai time. They compensate for 2 hours for each night time working. It means the nurses can work 32 hours a week. It means they work 3 days, have 4 days for free.
MediCall reduces the load of medical system in Sweden
When a Swede calls the healthcare hotline “1177” their call will likely be answered by a nurse in Thailand. Every region in Sweden has their own way to handle medical advice service or “on-call GP”, and the biggest regions Stockholm, Sörmland, and Värmland use private companies for giving their citizens medical counseling. MedHelp is the biggest private medical advice service company in Europe, and MediCall is their subcontractor. Today they produce 25% of MedHelps total production, or in other words: during weekends every second call ends up in Hua Hin.
“In the nights we take care of 60% of all calls to MedHelp,” says Dr. Birger Rexed.
MediCall gives Swedish people advice to handle a situation where medical knowledge is needed.
“Sometimes a problem doesn’t require a visit, but can simply be solved by following some instructions. 60% of all who calls us are able to solve the problem they call for help to. That way we reduce the load for the medical system in Sweden,” Dr. Birger Rexed says.
Swedes should not worry about where their calls end up – the quality is exactly the same. MediCall requires formal qualified nurses with minimum 5 years of working experience. They have a recruitment service who calls references and check up on CV’s. Furthermore, they always make sure of having extra nurses.
“Our company is meant to consist of 40 nurses, but we make sure we are 42,” CEO Karina Rexed says.
They always make sure to have extra back up on everything.
“We are very secured. When your work is about provide help for people in need you always have to make sure of everything works. We have a back-up for everything. We have 5 direct internet lines to Sweden to make sure to always have connection to overseas,” she adds.
Why not do permanent holiday for work?
When the company was established it consisted of 9 nurses from MedHelp.
“We were happily surprised. We did not think there would be so many applicants when we start searching for new staff,” CEO Karina Rexed says. MediCall was a success. They had to create a recruitment service to get an overview. Today, 42 nurses work in MediCall in Hua Hin.
They start working on a 6-month contract. After, it is up to the nurses themselves and MediCall what happen next. It’s not unusual the nurses decide to extend their work in Thailand.
“Nine decided to stay here forever,” Karina Rexed tells.
The nurses consist of many types: families, “nurse couples” where both are working in MediCall, some are single and some rejects retirement and want to make the best out of their golden years. Regardless of their background, age and gender, the nurses become more like a family than just work colleagues.
“We see how these people bond with each other. They organize tours in their spare time, arrange events and take good care of each other. After the first 4 months they actually start to get a little depressed when realizing their 6-month stay soon is over. Most of them want to extend their contract, ” she says.
While night time working in Sweden is a reason to quit, it’s becoming a reason to stay in Thailand. MediCall is growing, and so are the ideas of staying permanent in Hua Hin for work. Even if the contract does not consist of Swedish holidays, the nurses don’t mind.
“When we finish work, we have holiday. So actually, we have holiday everyday here”, the nurses say.