Dr. Sanjay Arora is unlocking the true potential of diagnostics - and turning it into an instrument of change in the healthcare landscape - by improving access, elevating the quality, and staying on top of emerging tech and trends.
Dr. Sanjay Arora is the MD & Founder of Suburban Diagnostics. As a Covid warrior, philanthropist, TEDx speaker, and visionary storyteller, he is passionate about wellness, leadership, and entrepreneurship. Dr. Arora is a changemaker in the classic sense who wears several hats with elan and impact. We are overjoyed at the opportunity to profile the man and try to fathom some of the ideals and ideas that power his journey.
We start the session by requesting the persona to describe his life’s driving passion & vision. What makes him get up in the morning, as it were? The champion of change shares spontaneously…
“Passion is something that comes from within. It is this passion that drives and fuels your vision. My passion is to be a better version of myself in anything I do, be it professional or personal. I use this passion to fuel my vision of making a positive impact on health outcomes in our country.”
We proceed to capture Dr. Arora’s journey - his family life, education & early career journey - briefly. He switches to flashback mode, saying…
“I am where I am largely due to the role my family has played in my life. My parents, my wife, my sister, and my children are the wind beneath my wings, propelling me to do what I want. Both my parents put a lot of emphasis on high-quality education. I have studied in the best schools and medical institutions across the globe, giving me the best platform to be successful in fulfilling my ambitions; from Mayo college, India’s premier residential school, to Grant Medical College and Johns Hopkins Hospital to small programs at ISB and Harvard Business School.”
Every life has its inflection points: ‘Eureka Moments’ that leave a lingering influence on the journey. Has there been a similar one in Dr. Arora’s life - a breakthrough episode, so to speak, that changed his perspective for good? The man shares…
“After running our first lab for 10 years, the breakthrough came when we started our first comprehensive diagnostic center in 2004. The success of running a lab and a diagnostic center at two different locations gave us the confidence to build a network of centers and labs.”
No quest worth its salt comes easy. The greatest accomplishments come with their fair share of hurdles and heartbreaks. So what are the setbacks this architect of change has experienced, and what have been the learnings gained thereof? Dr. Sanjay Arora shares with generous candor….
“There have been numerous setbacks and learnings over the past 27 years. The first was in 1995 when I fell seriously ill, preventing me from managing my new enterprise in its second year. I learned the value of investing in your health – this is the bare minimum that we owe to ourselves. The next was working with credible partners that are not only good in sales but also in post-sales support. I learned this the hard way by having a lot of my initial investment in equipment going to waste as our supplier then had no credibility and didn’t support breakdowns. The last is to keep evolving your business strategy and controls in the financial management of your organization, as you scale. No matter who your investor or advisor is, no one knows your business better than you.”
So what is the big need-gap that Dr. Arora’s venture is addressing? What is the raison d'etre, so to speak, of his odyssey?
“Diagnostics accounts for 70% of medical decision making at less than 10% of the overall cost. Additionally, diagnostics spans the entire health continuum of a patient, from screening and diagnosis to prognosis and monitoring. In the era of evidence-based medicine, the role of diagnostics is even more evident. Moving ahead, personalized diagnostics will provide a paradigm shift in impacting health outcomes. In today’s context, diagnostics has been at the center of controlling the covid pandemic, with RT PCR becoming the 5 most known alphabets across the globe”, says Dr. Arora. His team is going out of its way to give form and flesh to the key role which diagnostics can ideally play in the modern healthcare landscape. The man’s transformative vision is changing the contours of the test terrain - one idea at a time. The effort is laudable, no matter which perspective you look it through.
At this point, we want to capture the disruption that Dr. Arora is engineering in no uncertain terms, and we reckon that it is best left to the man himself. He articulates with clarity…
“We have constantly invested in technology and best practices to remain relevant to the needs of the healthcare industry. Cutting edge technology accompanied by customer-centricity allows us to deliver precise testing that impacts medical outcomes, consistently.”
We are curious about the good samaritans who have acted as the wind beneath his wings. Who are the helping hands that have reached out to support his journey when he needed them most? Dr. Arora confides…
“Building a team that brings variety and capability while providing cross-functional collaboration has been the biggest gain in handling roadblocks and obstacles.”
A persona of his standing will doubtless have attracted (more than) its fair share of honors and accolades. So which are the ones he is the happiest, or proudest, about? “Every customer appreciation is received with a huge sense of achievement and pride. In recent times, being the first lab in the country to be nominated to test for Covid-19 is a matter of immense pride”, shares the man with an unmistakable glow of fulfillment.
And what about the more ‘conventional’ forms of recognition and tributes? Awards, for instance? He avers…
“Yes, there have been those, too. For instance, I have been honored with the 100 Most Impactful Healthcare Leaders Award by the World Health and Wellness Congress in 2018, featured in Forbes India Marquee Leaders in Healthcare, 2019, and have received the VCCircle Healthcare Investment Award, 2015. I have also had the good fortune of being awarded with the 'Lifetime Achievement Award' by IES Management College and Research Centre, 2018. Recently, I was honored as the Influential Leader of New India, 2021 by Teammarksmen in association with CNN News 18 for exceptional leadership.”
So what lies ahead of Dr. Sanjay Arora? What are the future milestones he would like to cross in the foreseeable future? Dr. Arora is happy to share a sneak trailer…
“The ability to stay relevant and continue making an impact to medical outcomes is at the center of everything we do. Improving accessibility, with ease to reach us via a physical network and a robust digital platform is an area of focus for us. A renewed focus on wellness, fuelled by a change in consumer behavior towards health, is another area of focus for us. With a priority on safety and convenience on the consumer's mind, heightened focus on home healthcare is another area for us. Personalized diagnostics using genetic testing is also an area of testing excellence for us to strive towards.”
Every changemaker leaves a mark on the sands of time. How would Dr. Arora like to be remembered? What would he, in short, want his enduring legacy to be?
“To unburden healthcare – using the power of diagnostics to reduce the healthcare burden in India – to deliver healthier living powered by precise testing! We wish to be remembered for making a positive difference to the health indices of the country while running a robust enterprise”, he says.
What advice would you leave to the next generation/aspirants in your domain?
“There is a huge gap between demand and supply in providing quality healthcare in India. There is always a need for quality medical professionals across all domains, be it medical or paramedical, to improve health outcomes. I would like to encourage the people to actively participate in this profession, where the fulfillment of making a difference in someone’s life is second to none” is Dr. Arora’s pithy but powerful prescription.
An inspirational session has reached its conclusion. We sign off by requesting Dr. Arora to share a message for the readers and members of the Voice of Healthcare Platform. The crusader of change warmly complies…
“Platforms like VOH help in creating awareness and recognition of the good work done in the medical profession; this will go a long way in providing the much-needed encouragement for the profession and the professionals.”
*This story is published by VOH Team*
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