ATUNE: An innovative approach to health for the Hunter
Simon Ashley established ATUNE Health Centres in October 2006, working as an osteopath out of the front room of his family house in Eleebana.
Fourteen years later, he opened ATUNE in Cardiff, one of the largest integrated health centres in Australia. The $10-million facility brings together 18 health disciplines and employs a team of more than 100. It is complemented by ATUNE in Belmont.
The Cardiff centre was a long-time passion project for ATUNE founder and CEO Simon, who worked for a decade to bring it to life.
Its unique model was inspired by Simon’s own challenging experience of navigating the healthcare system after suffering a spontaneous pneumothorax (collapsed lung) in 1995. He was a university student in his first year of osteopathy at RMIT in Melbourne at the time.
Simon says the care he received in the four months of appointments and operations that followed was disappointingly “neither integrated nor individualised”. An experience he discovered was extremely common when he discussed it with others.
As he recovered and progressed through his studies and career, Simon recognised that working in isolation was not always effective. He found that better outcomes were achieved for his clients by working together with like-minded health professionals.
The vision behind ATUNE was to create integrated one-stop health and wellbeing centres that offered individualised care for the body, mind and spirit.
“ATUNE’s aim is to help transform healthcare in our nation,” he explains.
“Lifestyle medicine, integration and collaboration are critical to a health system that lacks in these areas. So, we aim to demonstrate and build centres that show a different way of care. One that is client-driven, not money-driven, especially in the private sector.”
From general practice to allied and complementary therapies to speciality services, the scope of health professionals working together at ATUNE Cardiff is broad. Among them are physiotherapy, osteopathy, psychology, naturopathy, dietetics, breathing therapy, massage, maternity care and a sleep centre.
“Very few [health centres] have natural and medical working together and none have the associated focus with health food stores and Food Farmacy cafe that all work in conjunction with our medical team,” he explains.
“We even have cryotherapy, infrared sauna and an anti-gravity treadmill that has historically been used for elite athletic recovery, but we are now using all these for the client with many chronic illnesses to bring additional care.”
“It is also very unique to have a holistic dentist work alongside our team of medical and allied health professionals.”
Simon has lived in the Hunter since 2000. He is proud to call it home and, as a business owner, believes the region provides opportunities for innovation and collaboration.
His ongoing contribution to the area recognised with ATUNE receiving a Hunter Business Award in 2019, as well as Lake Macquarie City Business Excellence Awards in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2019.
The success of ATUNE in the Hunter has fuelled Simon’s hopes to replicate the ATUNE model nationally. “Long-term, we aim to plan centres like this all over Australia and provide access to such services in country regions that greatly need all types of medical facilities.”