Technology & data have been paramount to communications: Rajiv Chibber

Rajiv Chibber – Vice President External Affairs, Sahajanand Medical Technologies discusses how communication is important to the healthcare industry.

by Nafisa Shaheen
Published - Oct 18, 2019 5:39 PM Updated: Oct 18, 2019 5:39 PM
Rajiv Chibber

Rajiv Chhibber is a Senior Corporate Affairs, Policy, Communications &  Media Strategist with experience across several industries including Pharmaceuticals/Medical Devices, Development Sector (Health, Environment, Climate Change, Energy and Sustainable Development) and Education. Currently Vice- President of External Affairs, Sahajanand Medical Technologies, he explains how communication is important to the healthcare industry.

How has your journey in the Corporate Communications industry been?

Over the last 17 years of my professional career I have been fortunate to be working in organisations where I have had the opportunity to work in a varied set of domains starting from a leading Education Institution (Rai Foundation) to two major think-tanks The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and Public Health Foundation of India that were essentially policy powerhouses for the Government of India in the realms of Energy, Power, Renewables, Environment, Sustainability and Public Health, to now a leading Indian Medical Device Company that is giving MNCs a global competition in the niche  area of Cardiovascular diseases. 

 However, a commonality in all of these roles has been ‘working towards a sustainable and healthy India.

Although I have a long journey and learning ahead, but when I look at the past, I feel that it’s seldom that corporate communications professionals deal with a variety of domains that I've dealt with and that too in close association with the best minds in the country who have been awarded the highest civilian awards not only by the government of India but several countries for shaping global policies for a better world. Additionally, the amount of travel I have had that includes 47 countries and practically all states of India, has given me a wider outlook that helped me dovetail communication ideas to suit the requirement of the land.

As you have worked across domains, what are the key learnings you've had?

I have fortunately worked in the key areas of Education, Power, Environment, Health and areas of Sustainable Development and now hardcore Industry. These are also the agenda domains of any government towards nation building. A key learning and an outcome that I consider is ‘Communicate, Cultivate and Re-communicate’.

How important are communications in the health sector?

Recently, we have seen a shift towards more accessible and accurate public communications of this complex and sometimes overwhelming topic. The responsibility of this communication can be laid squarely upon the shoulders of two groups: Healthcare Workforce (including Doctors, practioners, Health policymakers, NGO, INGO’s and journalists working in the sphere of health) and Communicators.

I have been working in the area of Health Communications for over a decade now, and a lot has changed, making it important to be on top of communication tools to make an impact.

As a healthcare communications professional, one’s communication skills need to be stellar and a top priority. The importance of communication in the healthcare industry can help prevent diseases, injuries and death, increase trust between the patient and the caregiver, shape policies, and strengthen relationships with other healthcare providers that impact the entire ecosystem promoting quality of life. 

What paradigm shift have you noticed in the corporate communications sector?

Technology and data have been the paramount and paradigm shift that has made or broken communication. The way news is circulated and data calibrated today in a 24x7 format, and the mediums under which it has the ability to impact end-users, policymakers, think-tanks industry and global bodies have changed rapidly. Keeping pace with newer formats, being ahead in dovetailing messages and condensing data in those formats, and at the right time is the key to cope with this tectonic change. With print-runs vanishing, and marketing taking over editorial, organisations need Corp Comms to demonstrate strong communication policies that can enrich the industry and those that don’t have effective procedures in place can negatively impact the society. Institutions need to recognise the importance of the role of communication in order to thrive.

Throw some light on your current venture.

I am presently Vice President of External Affairs with Sahajanand Medical Technologies Pvt Ltd.

SMT is a leading developer and manufacturer in South Asia of minimally invasive coronary stent systems, with one of the broadest product portfolios in the industry, having a strong global footprint in more than 75 countries. Headquartered in Surat (Gujarat) with a modern facility to produce over 5 lakh stents a year, along with catheters, and balloons, SMT is developing Asia’s largest stent manufacturing and R&D facility at the medical devices park in Telangana. In  2005, SMT became the first company in the world to receive CE approval for DES with biodegradable polymers. Today the company has a CE approval (European Union Approval) for our leading products which have helped SMT to become the market leader in not only India but within a small span in most parts of the world, especially Europe. SMT is super excited that the European cardiologist community now experience the most deliverable stents of the world, and that too ‘Made in India'. SMT was also the first company to introduce a blend of the biodegradable polymer matrix.

 What is the 5-year growth plan of your current association in the Corporate Communications industry?

For me, health has become one of the most effective growth paths as a professional. As a Corporate Affairs specialist identifying newer, and effective means to educate people, stakeholders, communities, media and peers on health, how the situation is changing, and what the breakthroughs mean to the global community is the next agenda, and I don’t look at a throttled 3 year or 5-year plan. It is always a plan in working while keeping in mind the changing paradigm. As I said earlier, lack of understanding of the issues often leads to serious misreporting of the facts adding further confusion to the health discourse.

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