According to World health Organisation, Homeopathy is the fastest-growing and second-most widely-used system of medicine in the world and no wonder the man in action at the 6th Annual Pharmaceutical Leadership Summit & Business Leadership Awards 2013 (pharmaleaders2013.com ), organised by Network 7 Media Group’s media outfit Pharmaleaders (pharmaleaders.tv ) is Asia’s most respected expert in alternative health, homoeopathy, is Dr Mukesh Batra.
According to a PRNewswire statement, Dr Batra will address the Pharmaleaders 2013 summit on Challenges of Globalisation of Homeopathic Medicines. Dr Batra is the Chairman of Dr Batra’s positive health clinic, which is fast spreading its wings in global map. Established in 1982 by Dr Batra, the Clinic has come a long way today with 126 clinics spread across 64 cities in India, Dubai, UAE and the UK. What is more, the health clinic also provides state-of-the-art services to more than half a million people from all over the world, with the numbers growing steadily.
To the credit of india and in an era of difficult times where the Indian pharmaceutical industry is facing an uphill task in the allopathic medicine, Dr Batra’s efforts are commendable but the real test lies in taking the brand to the global map specially to the developed market where regulators and price will be a major challenge, the statement points out.
Dr Batra told Satya Brahma, Editor-In-Chief of Pharmaleaders, Dr Batra summed up briefly the major points of his key-note Address that of building India as a worldwide base of creating an ideal destination in Homeopathic Research.
Second largest system of medicine
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has termed Homeopathy as the second largest system of medicine. According to US-based The National Centre for Homeopathy, by 2017 the Homeopathy market will be equivalent to the alternative healthcare market, which is Rs 52,000 crore currently.
“My first predicament when I started my practice back in 1974 was how could I make money out of other peoples sufferings. A doctor was then seen as a healer, a family physician, a friend – even a match maker. This was more so in case of homeopathy. When the missionary bought homeopathy to India they set up many free clinics. These mushroomed over the years and together with a large number of amateur practitioners led to the belief that homeopathy was good for free. If you had to pay for it, you better consult a specialist”, Dr Batra concurred.
“The number one challenge for us as a start-up was to legitimise homeopathy as a paid professional service. It has been said that, ‘The science of medicine is the art of healing’. It was thought that homeopathy was more an art than science – A hit and miss method that works for some, and doesn’t work for others.Second challenge was to correctly position homeopathy as a modern medical tool and to increase its acceptance. It was also believed that homeopathy works only with experience. It was a perception that you have to have white hairs to prescribe white pills.Third challenge was to change the fuddy duddy perception of homeopathy into a modern therapy practiced by young progressive doctors. Medicine gets easily outdated as new technology and even newer diseases make old knowledge irrelevant. During my time there was no swine flu, bird flu, aids, not even chickengunya. The next challenge came from the personalised and individualistic nature of homeopathy treatment. This imposes a growth limit since there are only so many patients that one doctor can handle. Thus, the fourth challenge was to professionalise the service and create a scalable replicable business that could work independently of me and reach economies of scale”.
On organisational matrix, Dr Batra said: “I wanted to build an institution and institutionalise my practice of homeopathy so that my medical experience does not die with me, as people die but institutions outlive, evolve and grow. This proved a huge challenge and has taken me more than ten years to build a strong organisation that can not only continue the present entrepreneurship model in an auto mode but also be able to drive growth”.
First mover disadvantage
“Marketing gurus speak of a first mover advantage. But it can also be a disadvantage when there is no path to follow and you have to create your own path. The cost of experimentation is sometimes high and we learnt the ropes the hard way. It can be an expensive learning curve for the pioneer. Secondly, while we grow the market at our cost others copy and just move in”, he pointed out.
“How much is too much: In an industry where word of mouth is the prime reason for decision-making by the consumer – advertising is not often well received. We sometimes hear people say, they advertise so much, they must be making a lot of money, or if they can spend so much they must be very expensive”, he said.
Loosing trained doctors
Gone are the days when people would start and end their careers in one company. Undoubtedly, today, for any HR in the healthcare industry, retaining medical professionals is the major challenge. At Dr Batra’s the attrition rate of doctors is just 2 per cent. What keeps them back are great salaries backed by performance incentives, good working conditions, and 500 hours of CME every year and a watertight contract.
Rentals in retail
All the retailers would agree that with property prices soaring at an unbelievable rate, it hampers our rent-to-revenue ratio, thereby making business un-viable. The scalability challenges: How did we overcome it? Achieve standardisation throughout Infrastructure, Services, Medicines, and Treatment Treatment at Dr Batra’s is standardised through standardised training as well as processes which all doctors follow. The medical audit department also does a regular review of treatments. Medicines are centrally purchased through approved vendors as per international standards and dispatched to every clinic; no clinic is allowed to buy local medicines. Layouts, designs are as per written manual including the right colour of red and blue of our brand and GSM of stationary used across the organisation. “We believe that we are part of a knowledge industry and we have to regularly update our knowledge. To achieve this we introduced intensive and continual medical training for doctors and measure their KPA’s and KRA’s for after training efficiency.We remained patient centric and tracked and recorded customer satisfaction and responded to it. We measure customer advocacy through repeat business and references. A recent Nielsen study showed that as much as 2/3 of our patients would recommend Dr Batra’s very strongly. Also, 90 per cent of Dr Batra’s hair patients won’t change to any other brand of treatment. Another study revealed that 73 percent of the patients taking allopathy and homeopathy treatment say that Dr. Batra’s is the best solution in homeopathy”, Dr Batra said..
Print & Electronic Media
Dr Batra’s does consistent media campaigns through various channels to ensure maximum brand visibility and growth. About PR, he said: “We have successfully built our brand and increased credibility by utilising varied PR channels for our annual events, launch of new clinics, products, technology, success stories etc. Dr Batras is today the most trusted brand in homeopathy in India according to Brand Trust Report 2012”.
The company from time to time to get a better insight into the consumers mind has carried out both qualitative and quantitative research studies. This shapes the internal communication to our patients at the clinics and is also reflected in our advertising. In fact the Clinic pioneered the use of Internet to treat patients online. “We introduced the brick and click method for the first in homeopathy. We have treated 4.5 lakh patients in 2005 through the Internet from 86 countries that got us a mention in the Limca book of records for treating the highest number of patients on line”, Dr Batra said.
“It was Mark Twain who said: ‘Always do right. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest’. No prescriptions are coded but are transparently put through our computers to doctors and patients alike. Similarly all payments are through cheques. There are no under the table remuneration for any employee in the company. We have also refused properties which had a cash component. We, in fact followed the best business practices and became the first homeopathic clinic in the world to earn ISO 9001. Furthermore, we are now into TQM, Six Sigma and balanced scorecard. We have recently developed our own ERP programme to help us run our business better”, Dr Batra continued.
Dr. Batras’ is the first homeopathic institute in India to introduce blister packing of the traditional white pills to retain the medicinal properties in the purest form till it is consumed. “We introduced m-health to enable patients to get treatment through their mobile. We were the first to pioneer Tele-Homeopathy Clinic in homeopathy to facilitate doctor-patient interaction through video-conferencing for consultation or a second opinion across various geographies”.
Standardisation of treatment
“Our cutting edge ERP system stores patients’ medical histories and treatment details online, enabling standardisation of treatment. Third-party mystery customers visit the clinics and audit every person involved with the company to help keep track of their performance as well as to maintain the value of the brand. Dr Batra’s is the first to maintain online records of patients’ case histories and seamlessly integrate network access to patients’ databases for research and evaluation studies across its clinics. The Clinic has in place well-defined disease protocols for measuring medical outcomes through scientific parametres. There is also a system where cases are escalated for a second opinion with an expert medical committee”, he said.
Establishing international partnership is one of the major challenges in expanding business internationally. For example, most countries have 51/49 percent share holding norm for partnership with local partners holding maximum share in any venture. However, understanding the critical challenges in this, we refused to do business in this kind of share holding pattern till date. Dr Batra’s today has 100 per cent ownership in all its international ventures, Dr Batra said.
Distance & Time zones
Managing clinics miles away is a hurdle. Also, different time zones creates difficulty in smooth functioning. Crisis management becomes extremely difficult in international ventures, as it becomes difficult to commute and take on the spot decisions when business demands. Different countries have vivid laws and regulations. In Dubai for example, there are separate regulations for foreign partners in Dubai and Dubai Healthcare City. Thus, it is mandatory to take approvals from both the regulatory authorities, which can be a time consuming and difficult process. For instance, it took us 14 months to get license to practice in Jumeirah, he stated.
“As doctors, we see so much of pain suffering and death that we become insensitive. I walked and complained that I had no shoes till I came across a man who had no feet. To keep our sensitivity alive we work with the under privileged, the old age homes, orphanages and animal shelters. We have a one percent formula for our foundation, one percent of salary, vendor billing and profits of the company. Rs 2 for every paid patient is donated to an animal shelter every month. It motivates us to create wealth so that we can share it. We have initiated the positive health awards for people who have fought impossible medical odds to recover”, Dr Batra said and added: “Conclusively, with the phenomenal growth that homeopathy is currently enjoying all over the world, we believe we have just touched the tip of the iceberg. Management buffs often ask me about our five-year business plan and the future of our company. I believe that in a dynamic fast changing world the only constant is change. We have to adapt to change according to ground realities and have to be flexible and responsive to market conditions. Therefore while on paper we do have a business plan in practice we change it every day”.
Pharmaleaders believe that while the industry today is at the loggerheads with the Government and various statutory authorities including the regulators such as the Drug Administration, Market watchdog SEBI and host of other organisations, there is a lack of meaningful dialogue and interaction between the Industry and the Government leading to the bigger uncertainty of the overseas players coming to India with the basket of products and investments in the absence of a weak law and virtual policy paralysis.
The issue of Pricing is the biggest factor leading to the discontentment of the Pharma Companies. The unavailability of medicines seen across the country is the major challenge as well the declining research and drug discovery, Clinical trials are seen as major deterrents”. The Pharmaleaders platform therefore attempts to build these crucial gap of trust deficit and infuse the sense of confidence of the country’s drug makers, policy makers and the government.
Pharmaleaders is an independent Media that aims to ventilate the views of the common man through its magazine and digital version. Pharmaleaders is India’s first opinion based and research driven Healthcare Communication media and has a decade of relentless reporting in Pharma Journalism in an unbiased, fearless and independent way. Over the last one decade, Pharmaleaders has covered some of the biggest voices in healthcare Industry.