Antra Bhargava | SuVitas
Antra Bhargava is the CEO of SuVitas, India's award-winning first Transition Care Hospital Chain (with its flagship 48 bed residential centre at Hyderabad) that focuses on the rehabilitation of long term patients. SuVitas is a category defining venture which bridges that crucial gap between hospital and homecare, ensuring a holistic approach to a person's rehabilitation. The organisation specialises in the areas of Neuro, Ortho, Cardio and early stage Onco, with an excellent record in treating victims of Stroke and Road Traffic Accident survivors who present with brain injuries and/or polytrauma.
An honours graduate of Law from Trinity College, Dublin and a qualified Chartered Accountant, Antra has worked around the world in a variety of strategic roles for over 15 years. She prefers to be termed A “tough but fair” leader and has consulted with several companies (that aim to navigate change), mentored startups and closed multi million dollar deals and acquisitions.
The multi-faceted Antra was one of the first female black belts in Taekwondo and the first and youngest female referee for the sport in the Indian National Games held in Imphal in 1998. A passionate advocate for equality and safety, she developed the PACE model for all genders and age groups.
That apart, Antra co-founded and is Managing Trustee of The WoW Kitty Trust which brings together women of substance who support rural female entrepreneurs through offering business loans at 0% interest. The WoW Kitty Trust has over 70 members and, disbursed hundreds of loans with a 100% repayment rate. (https://www.facebook.com/thewowkitty/)
Antra has lectured on gender diversity for the Institute of Directors in India, and both taught and examined on Accountancy and Taxation in Ireland. SuVitas, the startup she heads is also the Winner of the TiE Lumis Excellence Award from TiE Delhi-NCR & Lumis Partners, and has been recognised as one of the Top 10 Innovative and Promising Startups of 2016 by Awesome India.
So what is the big lacuna that Antra’s venture is addressing? What makes it a game-changer and need-of-the-hour, as it were? Antra explains the crucial areas in the Indian healthcare space that SuVitas is addressing…
FREEING UP BEDS
“India has one of the lowest hospital bed ratios in the world. In addition, 30% of ICU patients develop hospital acquired infections that can result in complications and even death. By taking the stable, longer term care patients out of the tertiary case system, into dedicated infection free facilities, we free up hospital beds for those that require the more critical level of care. This has never been more necessary or evident than in the COVID 19 Pandemic.”
MAKING CARE AFFORDABLE
“Being an asset light model, SuVitas also makes inpatient care far more affordable for patients – between 30 – 50% of tertiary hospital care costs for long term patients. While insurance has yet to cover this segment on a cashless basis, doing so will only increase the accessibility of this care.”
REDUCING PREVENTABLE DISABILITY
“Tertiary care hospitals are built to save lives on an emergency / surgical basis and hence are gauged on low ALOS (average length of stay) and high ARPOB (average revenue per on-patient bed) metrics. The speed of care required makes it impossible for them to provide the kind of comprehensive rehabilitation required for patients to drive sustainable and complete recovery goals. The multidisciplinary, matrix style operations of the transition care industry that SuVitas is pioneering, reduces preventable disability.”
What fires up an idea champion like Antra, we wonder aloud. How would she describe her Life’s driving passion & vision, we probe. Here’s what Antra has to say, “From an early age I was inspired by social changemakers from the fields of justice, poverty alleviation and integrity with a strong backbone in patriotism - is of the “less talk, more action” variety. My life’s vision is simple – to live as if each day is my last and to ensure that each minute I am building a legacy that leaves the world better off. I grab every opportunity I can to do good”
We take a look into the past, requesting Antra to capture her family-life, education & early career journey briefly. As it turns out, she was born and raised in Calcutta to hard-working parents that strove to give her an excellent education – across a versatile range of disciplines, from martial arts to music to academia. “I was one of India’s first and youngest female blackbelts in Taekwondo and in fact went on to become the first female referee in the sport at the Indian National Games in 1998”, recalls Antra. As a mother of two daughters, she strives to do the same : Doing her best to provide them access to opportunities whilst instilling a core set of values. An excellent student, she subsequently completed a law degree from Trinity College, Dublin and qualified as a Chartered Accountant and Tax Advisor while training with one of the top consulting firms in the world – KPMG Ireland. “Over time, my career has taken on a distinctly international tone - spanning the world and straddling a swathe of industries and functions : From glass manufacturing to telecommunications to drug safety services, before I entered the healthcare industry”, says Antra, capturing her multi-dimensional background.
Was there any cross-roads or ‘eureka moment’ that changed her life and journey? Anything she considers a life altering experience? Antra reflects, “While I always strove in my career to follow the opportunities to learn and grow, I always felt like I was on a relentless pursuit of the “next big thing”. The corporate ladder climb was exhilarating as I kept being head hunted and gaining better designations and higher pay cheques. However I never really had a clear direction. Shortly after I returned to India, I suffered a health setback which luckily turned out not to be as serious as previously envisaged. The shock of a possible cancer diagnosis made me decide to focus on discovering my raison d’etre and it was through participating in multiple volunteering experiences, including cleaning the streets with the Ugly Indian, that I discovered that my true passion lay in social impact.”
Self-made leaders – the kind who have lived and learnt from the ground up – tend to carry priceless pearls of wisdom not found within the covers of bestselling books or MBA courses. What has her own kaleidoscopic experience taught her? What have been the learnings gained? We want to mine the leader’s mind for precious takeaways, and Antra doesn’t disappoint: “My two biggest learnings have been the power of collaboration and the value of resilience. In the first, and especially in the case of women, I truly believe people can work together and build solutions for society and that teams drive larger, more complex and therefore more sustainable results. The second has been interesting as the realisation has built over time that challenges are relentless – it is the ability to balance caring for the world and reserving a part for yourself that enables you to bounce back and continue to deliver instead of burning out. Both were hard won though as they required a deeper level of self awareness as to my own shortcomings in terms of impatience and reluctance to trust others. I am very much a work in progress and look forward to continuing to learn and grow.”
At Voice of Healthcare, we want to bring our readership and community on the same page with the future plan of healthcare leaders like Antra Bhargava. This serves the dual purpose of inspiration and awareness, allowing others leaders and networks with similar synergies to connect and create breakthroughs. So what’s Antra’s team upto? Which way is her journey headed? The idea leader who is deft at balancing intellect, grit and vision lets us in on her future itinerary: “We’ve had some pretty incredible results in terms of life-changing turnarounds in rehab. Now that we have proven results, an established protocol based care system and a world class advisory board, we are focused on expanding this category. We have already turned crisis into opportunity by being one of the first in India to launch virtual rehab services and then providing comprehensive elderly care solutions – from inpatient to remote monitoring. During COVID and to serve the community we have scaled up to provide COVID care isolation centres for asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic patients. Every bed we serve is bed free for the moderate to severe cases in our hugely burdened hospitals. In the future, I intend to foray into building the assisted living segment in India that will leverage our pedigree of clinical care and hospitality experience to serve our silver haired citizens in their golden years.”
How should future generations remember Antra Bhargava as? Or, from another perspective, if she were a brand, what would be the essence of its elevator pitch? Pat comes the response, “I would like to be remembered as a joyful person that changed the world for the better”. Amen to that.
“Don’t wait to find the “right job”, the “right time” etc to follow your passion. Learning requires doing and the more you do, the more uncomfortable you make yourself, the higher the chances that you will grow to become the best version of yourself. Read and laugh, work hard, care but rest and allow the future to unfold for you in faith and hope”, is Antra’s short and profound answer.
*This story is published by VOH team*
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