The idea was never to become big or famous, but to contribute my share to diagnostics industry of our country.
Started from a small 150 sq. ft. place, vision and ideas grew to give rise to what now stands tall at 2,00,000 sq. ft. space laboratory. All experiences of my life - My birth, My pillars of support and the journey till now have fueled my focus and vision, to be where I am today!
Until the interview in 1982 at BARC, I did not know where the Thyroid gland is located in our body. The in-depth study in Thyroid made me realise how understudied and under-recognised disorders related to its functioning are, in our country! With just Rs. 1 lakh in hand and a dedication to serve, I started Thyrocare with a primary focus on Thyroid testing. Today, I am the Managing Director of Thyrocare Technologies Ltd., my own company, dedicated to preventive healthcare testing focuses on a wide panel of diagnostic tests. Brand, Thyrocare, India’s first most advanced and world’s largest thyroid testing laboratory is currently a leader among diagnostic chains all over the country, with a turnover of more than Rs. 250 crores, and a brand value of more than $350M. Patients are our primary customers and we ensure a right value is provided at the right time to the right patient.
A Journey from Rack to Track!
Started in 1996, to provide affordable thyroid testing and quality reports to our patients at the most competitive rates samples were tested manually using RIA technology. Owing to samples rising from 100’s to 1000’s to the current investigations in lakhs, we became the first in India to install Total Laboratory Automation from Siemens, a 27m automation track. To efficiently handle the growing workload volumes, need for a complete advanced solution capable of handling multiple domains of laboratory operations became a necessity. Today, Thyrocare operates from its 2,00,000 sq. ft completely automated Central Processing Laboratory (CPL), equipped with the world’s longest track automation, Aptio® from Siemens. With an end to end automation, in-built scanners, own dedicated sample managers and a data management system, all three stages of laboratory operations - pre-analytical, analytical, post-analytical, are completely automated ensuring minimum errors and minimal human intervention.
Thyrocare focuses on providing affordable preventive healthcare testing and performs various biochemical tests majorly for thyroid, lipid, renal, cardiac, infertility, steroid and vitamins profile. Within a year of its birth, we had 25 franchisees all over India, and today Thyrocare boasts of a spanned network of more than 1000 franchisees across the country, with the main head office in Mumbai. The company possesses international standards of quality and is accredited by reputed Indian and global accreditation bodies viz: the International Organization of Standardization (ISO 9001-2000), National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) and College of American Pathologists (CAP).
Business Concept: Simple and Unique
Blood samples are collected by our franchisees, or from collection centers from all parts of the country and are sent to CPL via Air-cargo Logistics. Every sample is barcoded, making the sample processing error-free, right from sample collection till sample archival, every entry is registered in our computer system. This unique system ensures our samples reach CPL every night, same night, before midnight. A clear focus on speed in combination with our IT-enabled bi-directional systems, imparted this unmatched speed factor, ensuring a turnaround time of 4 to 8 hours for processing of samples that arrive at CPL at anytime of the day or night.
Why only focus on Biochemistry?
There were apprehensions from certain quarters about such specific lab-testing. Instead of starting a full-fledged pathology laboratory, conducting all tests and localising the services, I decided to venture into something I was sure of. I must say when my peers focused on pathology; I only focused on clinical biochemistry. This uncluttered focus became the trendsetter; giving birth to Thyrocare using resources of intelligent IT enabled systems, Logistics, Automation and Human Resources. In a country like India with population in billions, reach of healthcare services especially in the remote parts of the country is poor. My focus is on the slice number 3, 4, 5 and 6 in the economic pyramid of 10 slices in India. Having experienced the dark perils of poverty, fueled my desire to start an affordable enterprise for a vast populace. Thyroid disorders are manageable with cheap and safe methods of medication, if detected well ahead in time. Back then in a competitive market, thyroid tests and other specialised tests were hardly considered important and were ridiculously priced; sometimes as high as Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 3,000. The patients also had to wait long for results, even three-four days. This made me realize Thyrocare had a lot to work on.
Story of Disruptions!
When Thyrocare started operations, cost of a single sample testing in the diagnostic market was around Rs. 400 to Rs. 800. I was not deterred though. When my peers took more money from the patient, I charged the least to the patient and focused on charging more to the vendor but I also understood in order to achieve profits, the only task ahead was to build volumes! This was the first disruption in the healthcare sphere which was achieved by creating a nationwide network of franchisees. I kept in mind the three vital parameters: Quality, Cost and Speed. Considering the viability of our biological samples and travel costs, transporting specimens to CPL was very costly from all the parts of the country. I had volumes in hand; I realized it then, the cost of collecting a specimen at Adyar, Chennai, at 4 p.m. to reach Santa Cruz, Mumbai, at 11 p.m. by Air-cargo was as little as 30 paise only. Hence, I chose air-cargo logistics to bring in the samples to CPL which massively reduced the turnaround time. Well, this was another disruption that awaited to happen. Thyrocare tries to make optimal use of technology, hence the results of laboratory tests were then sent via E-mails to all franchisees ensuring the cost of report delivery as truly low.
Quality is never an accident…
Instead, it’s a result of high intention, intelligent direction, sincere effort and skillful execution. I dreamt of processing only 100 specimens per day when I left BARC in an attempt to change my status from a Bajaj scooter man to a Maruti 800 man. Well, now an unrelenting focus made our brand Thyrocare, a laboratory with the widest network of franchisees across India, 6 Regional processing laboratories equipped with state-of-the-art automation as efficient as CPL, all controlled via a centralised server. Expanding same business concept, Thyrocare has gone global with laboratories in more than 14 countries and 2 continents.
Today an average day at Thyrocare is a complicated scenario: more than 40,000 specimens, around 2,00,000 investigations, 200+ different tests are being carried out in different instruments. Our 60% revenue comes from Aarogyam- a head-to-toe clinical preventive healthcare checkup profile in a single package. Thyrocare ensures an efficient and timely maintenance of quality of reagents, instruments, manpower and systems. The first disruption which started 20 years ago served us well for 18 years. Even when the growth fell, I went ahead with cost cuts, but our investors were apprehensive that such a move would affect the profits deeply. But I still overrode the board, because I had conviction. Our growth made a strong comeback, soared up to 30%. It is this latest disruption which has placed us in a position of comfort for at least eight years. This year, Thyrocare’s maiden Initial Public Offering received a remarkable response from all categories of subscribers with an over-subscription of almost 74 times.
With a family of 700 employees currently, for whom I am the first employer, and, with a stellar success at our IPO, my vision still remains the same:
1. To serve 50% of the world’s population, 50% of their diagnostic needs, at 50% of the costs.
2. Thyrocare should be the biggest client for the top 20 diagnostic manufacturing companies across the globe.
Life has not always been a bed of roses; there were many thorns to contend with. There were ups and downs, apprehensions and dynamics of the diagnostic industry as would be bound to happen in any venture of this kind against the backdrop of my personal struggles.
In the end, there are only two kinds of people....
1. Doing today what world did yesterday
2. Doing today what world will do tomorrow
My experience taught me to stick to the latter, and that gave me the idea to start my venture on building this brand around a gland, brand Thyrocare. I do not preach or teach. I only remind everyone including my family of Thyrocareans to keep their eyes open and try to see “what the world cannot see”. Focus, Dream, Differentiate and Develop. I did that and so can you!