Affectionately known as Dr. G, Matshidiso ‘Tshidi’ Gule (37) is a qualified medical doctor, a health advocate, a celebrated author, and an entrepreneur. In 2006, her passion for improving South African’s experiences with local healthcare systems and procedures led her to found the MediSpace Lifestyle Institute; a healthcare solutions facility providing corporates and executives with healthcare education, programmes, and tools for their overall well-being.
“Frustration is an opportunity for growth,” says Dr. Gule, Chief Wellness Officer at the MediSpace Lifestyle Institute. “Many of the diseases we treat today are preventable if detected early enough. Intervention methods are readily accessible but that’s not how we currently approach healthcare in South Africa.” Understanding she could make a valuable and lasting impact, Dr. Gule wasted no time in developing a healthcare service that “South Africans deserve”.
Understanding patients’ needs
And so, MediSpace Lifestyle Institute was born. “My future as a doctor was sealed once I realised that I could design healthcare models most South Africans could access and that would bring them not only affordable but also quality healthcare and wellness options.” Healthcare professionals at the Johannesburg-based Institute provide patients with quality care centred around their personal ailments, goals, concerns, and needs.
“Today, medical consultations have become very clinical – if you’ll excuse the apt pun. It’s no longer about what really ails the patient but rather how many patients can be attended to within a given timeframe.” Dr. Gule’s approach to healthcare is to help patients understand that their well-being should be an inspirational journey, not an obligatory one. “My philosophy is to focus on the patient experience by really understanding who my patients are, and by making sure their individual needs are met.”
This approach means that at the institute there are no 10-minute consults where patients feel rushed and often-times unattended. Dr. Gule believes her approach makes for better, more insightful medical decisions based on solutions specific to each patient’s needs.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint
When it comes to healthcare, Dr. Gule prefers an ‘easy does it’ approach. “There’s no quick fix. One’s health should be viewed as a marathon and not a sprint.” Dr. Gule and her team at MediSpace advocate small and incremental lifestyle changes. “Take on one lifestyle change, one day at a time. A consistent approach is the best foundation for managing a lifelong health journey, and perfection is absolutely not required.”
Dr. Gule and her team seek to understand each patients’ needs before embarking on any treatment or programme. “I prefer to create independence rather than a dependence on any form of treatment,” says Dr. Gule. “We look at the long-term effects and benefits of anything we prescribe or recommend and how that fits into the patient’s life.”
Startupreneur – Dealing with work-related burnout
Having ventured into deep into the belly of entrepreneurship herself, Dr Gule was very much aware of the pitfalls and hurdles faced by those starting up their own businesses. Coining the term Startupreneurs, Dr. Gule identified – through healthcare programmes and treatments – how to navigate entrepreneurs through the long hours, tight deadlines and mounting responsibilities that cause burn out and depression in so many within the first few years of their businesses.
“As an entrepreneur, there’s a need to produce your best, make yourself seen and heard and survive in an economy that can be volatile and unforgiving,” adds Dr. Gule. “All this pressure to perform at one’s peak – all the time – puts a lot of strain on a person mentally, physically and emotionally, and soul, and so I seek to offer practical solutions to minimize the effects on the body.”
Re-engineering employee wellness models
Dr. Gule is also sought-after across the African continent for the work she does assist companies to re-engineer more effective employee wellness models; a move which has proven to save her clients money by creating sustainable programmes that also show considerable return on investment.
“It’s imperative to have and maintain a happy and healthy workforce, the opposite is only counter-productive.” Amongst the talks and seminars offered by Dr. Gule, which she offers to Human Resource teams and top executives at a corporate level, our Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) – Strategy to Excellence, Employee Wellness, and ROI, Productivity Management and Stress Management.
Diamond in the rough
Dr. Gule’s infectious love for inspiring South Africans to live healthier lives has garnered the support and recognition of political leaders, medical aid giants, corporate executives, and the media, making her a sought-after speaker, health contributor, and corporate expert. In 2015, her entrepreneurship journey was revealed in a tell-all memoir titled Rough Diamond: Your First-Class Ticket to Mentorship Excellence.
The memoir exposed the intimate and often hidden experiences she encountered as a start-up entrepreneur, and shares key insights, lessons and meaningful exchanges she had with a mentor Basetsana Kumalo.
Inspiring a nation
Dr. Gule discovered her love for medicine from a young age. “My passion for supporting individuals on their health journey was ignited as a teenager,” remembers Dr. Gule. “I used to shadow doctors in my township. Yeah, I was that kid!” Dr. Gule attributes her success to experiencing that kind of care first-hand and seeing how good health uplifts a community and improves economic development.
Her parents always taught Dr. Gule and her siblings to pursue careers that achieve a greater good for others as well as themselves. “I loved science and biology as a child, and I could see how pursuing a career helping others was definitely my calling.” “The joy of seeing someone’s health transform for the better still gives me goosebumps!”
What the future holds
Currently based in Cape Town, Dr. Gule is establishing a branch of the MediSpace Lifestyle Institute in the Mother City and looks forward to a future that provides wellness and preventative healthcare solutions that impact and improve the health of the SADEC population.