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We are focused on expanding within India & abroad: Sriram Iyer, Metropolis Healthcare

In today’s edition of e4m Pride of India series, the Chief Revenue Officer of Metropolis Healthcare, shares the laboratory’s journey so far, challenges faced during the pandemic & plans for the future

e4m by Kanchan Srivastava
Published: Apr 13, 2022 8:28 AM  | 4 min read
Pride of India

Having started its journey with just one lab in Mumbai, Metropolis Healthcare today has grown into a chain of 125-plus clinical laboratories and 1,500 collection centres across 7 countries in South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Its revenue from operations stood at Rs 815 crore in 2021. 

In today’s edition of e4m Pride of India series, we caught up with Sriram Iyer, Chief Revenue Officer, Metropolis Healthcare, to understand the lab’s journey, challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic and the plans going forward.

Excerpts:

In the past four decades since the setting up of Metropolis, both the Indian society and the field of medical diagnostics have changed drastically. How has Metropolis evolved to overcome these challenges? 

Metropolis was founded by Dr. Sushil Shah as a single diagnostics lab in Mumbai with 35 employees. It was then called Dr. Sushil Shah lab. He went on to create a reputation for the lab with high-quality pathology services in Mumbai. From there on, he constantly strived to offer the best tests and services for patients. 

Our lab was the first in India to offer thyroid, fertility, and hormone tests.  The real transition came in when our current MD Ameera Shah came on board after completing her business education in the US. The company flourished under her leadership. We have grown from one to 90-plus labs and Metropolis is considered one of the best diagnostic players in India. We have grown organically and inorganically since then with new partners coming on board. We became a listed company and created disruption in the diagnostics market through customer acquisition, and accuracy in tests. Accuracy is in our DNA. We are all aware of where we have come from and where we want to head in the future. 

Covid-19 pandemic was perhaps the biggest disruptor in human history. There were huge demands for tests and labs were running out of the kits and manpower. How did you scale up operations, and arrange funds and kits to meet demand?

What happened during the pandemic was totally unexpected. To perform tests, we collaborated with the state governments and hospitals, and home visits took off in a big way. The safety of the sample collecting staff was paramount to us. They needed PPE kits and safety gear which helped us to give customers a lot of confidence. The shortage of test kits, reagents, PPE, and other essentials made our purchase department struggle a lot.

We saw peak load traffic during the pandemic waves. All these challenges helped us to prepare better for the future. 

What has been your most popular advertising campaign in recent years?

We curated a large number of blogs during the pandemic, leading to an almost 15-fold surge in traffic on the website. We also did paid campaigns on Google and Facebook. Our focus is on targeted campaigns on digital platforms. Our product is not for TV, but for digital as it helps us reach the target audience. 

Apart from campaigns, one has to establish a direct connection with the customers and a network with doctors. Lakhs of customers walk into our labs and collection centres, and we discuss our packages with them. A mix of all these strategies has worked out in our favour. 

Which ad agency do you work with and what is the ad expenditure today compared to what it was before the pandemic?

We work with 21N for creatives and campaigns, media vehicles, and a sister company doe digital paid campaigns. I won't be able to share the amount of expenditure. 

You acquired Hitech Diagnostics (with its subsidiary Centralab Healthcare Services for over Rs 630 crores) last year. What was the objective behind this acquisition? 

This acquisition was aligned with our growth strategy for Southern India. Hitech is one of the strongest brands there with a huge B2C business in Chennai which strengthened our position in South India and this will help us grow further in TN, Kerala, and Karnataka. 

Do you plan to expand further? You are already present in seven countries including Sri Lanka. How is the situation unfolding for Metropolis in Sri Lanka?

We have huge expansion plans. We are looking to increase our test menu. We are looking to enter deeper into the African continent. I would disclose these things after it is approved by the board. We are planning to open 90 more labs of which 20 are already taking final shapes. We want to grow deeper in tier 2, and 3 cities of India to offer the best services with over 1,000 more collection centres in the next three years. We are a scientific company so our focus will continue to be on R&D and oncology, and molecular genomics to offer high-end facilities for diagnosis. 

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