I hope you all are safe and healthy.
All of us are probably now morbid with boredom than the real virus itself. It is why I want to pitch in and give some pep talk to all of you. Being in leadership roles, we mustn’t lose our morale and motivation. The fear or insecurity about our career is justified to some extent. But overthinking is not going help us achieve anything. I am sure over 50 percent of the people in India will be more worried about their future than the fatality of the virus. As a leader of your team, it’s advisable to keep your hopes up and high, always have constructive thoughts, and focus on your revival plans. We all have a huge task of reviving not only revenues but our patient base, market share, the morale of the team, the motivation of the team and bring the growth curve and expansion plans back to the table. Keep away from negative News, disturbing viral communications, watch the News only to get an update on the numbers and change in the local scenario. Remember, you cannot help Italy, the US or China, except pray for world recovery. Be alert towards the safety of you and your family.
Before we move ahead, it’s imperative for you all to understand that this is not a regional calamity. The entire world is gripped under this pandemic and frozen with an uncertain and faceless enemy which can annihilate the human race itself. While the whole world is working on eradicating this menace, let us feel lucky that we are safe in our homes, and are better than the rest of the world.
We will bounce back, and I am sure our future will be better in all terms. You must recite this hundred times a day, to possess and display a positive mindset, for the benefit of your career and future. Your positive energies should be contagious to the rest of your team, who probably have suffered more than you during the lockdown.
We will have half of April, and full of May operational, with less footfall and revenues. I am sure by the end of May we will be back in business and forget the whole pain and troubles we had during this pandemic and the lockdown.
Looking at the current scenario, I can predict some of the changes in the country, post-pandemic, and lockdown. There are going to be a lot of changes in the external environment. In Macro terms, the positive effect would be that the entire country will now be more aware of sterility and cleanliness. The Health Care industry, which was not the top priority of our government, will get all the support and budget allocation. Health care is going to boom all across the country, especially in preventive care. People will prefer early diagnosis and treatment, as they will be now more health-conscious, which will result in more walk-ins. More and More inventions will thrive on making the country and its population safer and healthier. Health Insurance business will boom in the country, and hospitals will get an additional business of new insured patients. Corporate health care schemes will be more towards preventive care to keep their employees hale and healthy.
Apart from these, there is also going to be a significant change in Health Care Processes. Especially in terms of clinical protocols. There are going to be new protocols in intervention, diagnosis, and surgical methods. The daycare processes will also change, and maybe more of non-contact processes and usage of digital platforms will be prevalent. Some daycare businesses may resort to home care and online processes. As part of crowd control, hospitals may resort to appointment systems more strictly, which will bring relief & discipline in terms of patient management at the hospital premises.
While above are some of the macro positive outcomes, post-pandemic, there are also areas of concern.
As most of the businesses have lost a lot of money, the revival strategies will largely revolve around cost reductions, which may affect employment opportunities, salaries, and loss of frills and fauna of the patient care processes. Private practices may increase their service tariffs in their revival process, and operational costs may be reworked. All ‘good to have’ plans on staff welfare, marketing or branding programs, infrastructure improvement may be shelved for a quarter or two. Expansion plans may get postponed, and investment plan may be deferred or stretched towards the last quarter. Fiscal policy changes of government may affect our business, pricing, import costs, etc. Taxes or surcharges may go up, and state governments may have pressure on payback of aids, and loans, which may defer payments from government health care schemes, or put a wet blanket on liberal or popular health care subsidies, or schemes. Quite contrary to my above assumptions, people may not resort to regular hospital visits with fear of infection. There are also chances that elective and cosmetic surgeries may get postponed due to less cash liquidity, and family budget allocation to general health.
We must predict all these patient behaviour and changes in market dynamics and make robust and innovative plan to counter all these negating factors.
All of us should plan our operations, protocols, processes, IP management, Patient management, patient revival strategies, data mining strategies very diligently, and to the micro details, so that we are all prepared to meet any challenges in future operations. Prepare a business plan with your pipeline, assume your business of April, May and devise a plan for recalling all the patients. Have a staff deployment plan for April and May, with a stretched working hour, Sundays, and also multitasking allocation to all staff. All of the staff should render their extra efforts to maximise the business and recover the losses as quickly as we can. Look at your centre’s past performance in patient flow, type of patients, conversion dynamics, retail sales, and devise a plan of recovering the flow as before.
Coming to individual revenue pies, we have a significant dependency on cataract business. Cataract surgeries are going to continue, as this cannot be evaded. Our surgeons and counsellor’s persuasive skills should be more while advising the cataract surgeries. We will also have to watch the market pricing pattern and have parity pricing pattern so that we do not lose the patient. We should also explore restructuring the tariff and revise IOLs against each procedure, to optimise cost and margins. Think of increasing the prices of premium lenses and leave the rest to parity pricing.
Reassure every patient about our stringent and diligent sterility protocols, to keep them safe from any infections. Display our sterility protocols visibly inside the system, so that their concerns are alleviated. Offer online postoperative checkup to avoid travel. Start systems of home delivery of Pharmacy, Optical, Contact lenses, and even primary eye checkup at home.
Our other major, the retail revenue stream of optical business should again adopt parity pricing and also offer home deliveries, etc. Offer more home care services like repair, replacement of glasses and keep the customer loyal with you.
Retina surgeries are going to be doing well, as there are not many options for patients other than to operate. Pricing may not affect Retina surgeries, because of fewer practices in the country, and choices available on experience.
We may have not much of incumbents for Refractive and Cosmetic surgeries for some time. We have to do a lot of persuasive marketing and price schemes to seed interest in patients for these procedures.
Pharmacy and Lab businesses may not get hit and may show good results post-pandemic.
The most significant change would be in our approach and attitude in our day to day work and thought processes. We all have realised the value of work and how important it is for our life. We all have understood how important our family is, and how secure our four walls of the home are. Most of us have understood the gaps in our work, with a lot of brain space we had while sitting idle at home. I am sure in the process of our online training programs, most of our technical skill sets will come with renewed and refreshed knowledge. Our doctors have understood how important it is to keep our patients with us to keep their profession alive. The management team have realised how vital predictive tools and planning are to the business. Above all, many of you would have probably honed some skills and hobbies which you always wanted to. So bring all these positive accumulations back to work, and resurrect the flag of Maxivision to keep it fluttering high in the air with positive vibrations.
Good Luck to all of you and see you all soon.
Written by Sudheer S. Chief Operating Officer Maxivision Super Speciality Eye Hospitals