CX Speak

Healthcare Is About Establishing A Relationship With Patients: an exclusive interview with Dr. Sanjay Arora, Founder & MD, Suburban Diagnostics

Continuing with our initiative to share the experiences of CX Leaders across India, we have another gem of an interview with Dr. Sanjay Arora. Dr. Sanjay Arora is the Founder and Managing Director of Suburban Diagnostics India Pvt. Ltd. Having served more than three million patients over the past twenty-three years, Suburban Diagnostics has emerged as one of the most customer-oriented organizations under Dr. Arora’s guidance. His sole mission is to establish a meaningful relationship with his patients and build a company that his customers can rely on. His customer-centric outlook, along with a passion to serve patients, has turned Suburban Diagnostics into one of the most respected healthcare brands in India. Little wonder that Suburban Diagnostics is synonymous with great patient experience.

In an exclusive interview with us, he shares how he inspires his team to deliver a WOW experience to Suburban Diagnostic’s customers.

Diagnostics is an industry that is largely unregulated by governmental norms and mandates. What role does the patient experience play in this scenario?

When we started Suburban Diagnostics 23 years ago, the industry was fragmented and unregulated, giving us an opportunity to create an impact. The opportunity was not to make the patients feel like patients, but to make them feel like customers. When you go to a restaurant, it’s out of choice, not out of compulsion. In healthcare, patients do not come because they want to; they come because they have to. The opportunity here was that when there is a need, patients should not come over because they have to, but because they want to. They must know that they are at the right place – a place that they can trust. A patient wants to feel comfortable, and this was the approach we wanted to take across the brand.

Suburban Diagnostics

A family doctor personally knows the patient and extends personalized service through an established relationship. Isn’t this difficult in a distributed business such as Suburban? How do you establish a relationship with the patient and improve patient experience?

Healthcare is all about establishing a relationship with the patient. I share my own experiences of interacting with customers with my team; this makes the team understand the values we stand for and learn from the mistakes I have made.

Secondly, standardization plays a critical role in ensuring quality. To ensure experiences are fairly uniform, there must be a strong focus on training. Our training head has been with us for more than 20 years, working in different functions of the organization and has a 360-degree view. She ensures that the values the brand stands for are imbibed into the team right from the induction process.

Along with the above, we also have regular audits of our centers and build a customer satisfaction score. Based on this, we have the ‘Josh Award,’ which is an inter-center competition held every quarter based on service delivery parameters.

For you, it has been a journey of two decades to build this organization to its current scale. I’m sure you have had problems along the way. What has been a customer-focused initiative you have taken up to overcome one such problem?

Every customer feedback that the brand receives is also marked to me. I read every feedback personally and I want my team to believe that unless we don’t feel how a customer feels, we have failed in our role as a healthcare provider. The bottom line for me and my entire team is to find a way to add value to someone’s life every day.

As a diagnostic lab, our role is not just to give a quality report but to add value to it. We once had a customer who got a routine blood test done. We found that her potassium level was dangerously high. We called the patient’s husband and checked if she was fine and asked permission to send a technician to their home to collect fresh samples of blood and reconfirm her results. After reconfirming, we asked him to immediately take her to the hospital. As soon as they reached the hospital, the lady collapsed in the waiting room. Fortunately, she was in the hospital and they wheeled her into the ICU. High potassium levels can cause cardiac arrest and that is exactly what happened to her. Her husband came to us after a few days with tears in his eyes, a box of sweets, and money to give to the doctor from our team. Of course, we did not take the money but he insisted on us keeping the sweets. It is stories like these that keep us motivated.

Your clarity of purpose is clearly trickling down to the team Dr. Arora. This definitely has built the core principles of the brand and has brought it so far. So, what next at Suburban?

Our biggest tasks are to keep our customers engaged and to use technology to reach out to them. We create user groups of various diseases/health conditions within our customer base and reach out to them proactively. For example, when a patient visits us in the last one year, on the basis of his/her history, we proactively explain and recommend the following to him/her:

“You have done your blood sugar test but have not done your glycated hemoglobin. Globally, it has also been observed that if you keep your glycated hemoglobin under 6.5, you will minimize the side effect of diabetes. We recommend you consult your doctor and get the test done to manage your health better.”

Today, patients come to us only when they fall ill and when a doctor has recommended some tests. However, we want to change this habit of the patient so that they can come to us to remain healthy.

“Don’t do a test only when you fall ill, do a test not to fall ill.”

At Suburban Diagnostics, we advocate a proactive healthcare, inspire people to live healthily, and deliver a wow experience with precision and care. Our mission is to be the most admired diagnostic company in the world.

What is your word of advice to an organization that is trying to be customer focused?

Be a good listener. Find a way to listen to the customer and take feedback so that you can improve yourself. Be receptive and not defensive so that whenever you are wrong, you acknowledge that you are wrong and correct yourself. The more you listen to your customers, the better you become.

If customers have given feedback, it means that they value their relationship with you; value their feedback and take action on it.


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