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Dr. Sayantani Bhattacharjee: Enabling Access to Care in Rural Communities

Dr Sayantani Bhattacharjee | Better Life Medical Center
Dr Sayantani Bhattacharjee | Better Life Medical Center

A leader in care foresees the struggles of patients and takes innovative small steps to create a big difference. Dr. Sayantani Bhattacharjee, Founder, and CEO is one such women leader in the healthcare sector who gave up her lucrative urban life, to build a healthcare facility, Better Life Medical Center in one of the rural communities in her country.

Her motive behind such a decision was to enable affordable, accessible and cost-effective healthcare for those living in rural areas so that they experience the same privilege that the urban people do.

Dr. Sayantani has a demonstrated history of working in cross-functional leadership roles within the hospital and healthcare industry. She is skilled in management, healthcare management, obstetrics and gynecology, digital media, and healthcare marketing & business development.

In an interview with Insights Care, she talks about her journey through enabling healthcare for all, which makes her worthy of the title ‘40 under 40 Passionate Women Leaders in Healthcare.’

Please tell us your inspiration behind Better Life Medical Center.

I was very clear right from the beginning that I wanted to create a difference in the lives of patients. Through Better Life, we can do that by providing affordable, accessible, convenient, sustainable, and quality-driven primary healthcare services for all.

Furthermore, my goal was to establish the urban concept of ‘Polyclinic —all services under one roof’ in rural areas. Often, rural healthcare is in the form of an NGO or charity foundation because I believe that it can be for-profit and self-sustainable too.

What are your vision and mission for the organization?

At Better Life, the team does not compromise on quality and ensures they have the latest machines and technology to cater to the best of healthcare. Yet they have worked ardently on the pricing such that it is affordable to the rural people, and no one is denied treatment owing to money.

At Better life, our Vision is:  To provide affordable, accessible, convenient, sustainable, and quality-driven primary healthcare services to all, at the last mile.”

While the Mission is: To establish a chain of multi-facility primary health care clinics committed to delivering affordable preventive and curative services to all in last-mile areas in India.

What challenges did you face on the journey to Better Life?

Better Life was born during the COVID times as the primary need of people. Though there was a high demand for medical services in rural habitats, the scare and prejudices about COVID were extremely high, owing to the lack of education and awareness among people.

The challenges that we faced were a lack of basic amenities like drinking water, internet connectivity, and electricity, difficult logistics, local quacks, and their malpractices, lack of education, superstitions of various kinds among the tribal people, a challenging political scenario with a history of insurgency, absence of skilled workforce, and being a businesswoman in a male-dominated society.

I remember It was extremely challenging for us to have started our journey during these times. But it has been full of lessons and has been extremely gratifying so far.

How did you manage to invest your resources in setting up Better Life in a rural community?

For a rural market, listening to a customer is equally easy and challenging. Many times one has to make an extra effort to reach them. Though they may not be educated, they still have opinions and sometimes pretty significant ones! Thus, for us, we have always been great investors of time, energy, and resources in market research.

For example, for a customer here, logistics was an important decision-maker when someone chose a healthcare provider. We might be the numero uno as far as our quality of services is concerned but would still lose out on customers because s/he couldn’t reach us on time. Thus, we started to pick up and drop services for them, which was highly appreciated in the community here. This has not only enhanced our business but has also given us an edge over our competitors. Also, this is the first of its kind in this area, further making it our USP.

What advice would you like to like give to budding enthusiasts within healthcare?

As an experienced professional, my advice would be: If you want to be an entrepreneur, you must be a good nurturer. Patience, knowledge, and strategy are your strongest weapons. Yes! The road is full of challenges and is often a roller coaster ride. If you can enjoy the turbulent, bumpy journey every day, the view from the top would surely be worth it!

Most of the answers to your questions lie within your customer. Read their mind carefully, understand their likes and dislikes, what they really want and what things they surely do not want – these things, if carefully read, could become milestones of your business. So listen carefully!

In the world of entrepreneurship, nothing is generalized. It’s all about your sense of customization and agility toward solving your customer’s problems. No one size fits all. So don’t try and replicate what someone else is doing. They might be your inspiration, but your path is only yours and yours alone. No one can walk that for you!

How do you plan to scale your services in 2023?

Envisioning Better Life’s operations with emerging technologies and automated tools is what sets us apart and ahead of the rest.

Our focus in 2023 will be automation. At Better Life, we want to ensure that all processes are computerized, and health records of beneficiaries are maintained electronically so that modernization can positively impact people’s lives, even in the remotest part of rural society.

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