Sayantani Bhattacharjee: Ensuring Better Life through Healthcare at the Last Mile

Sayantani Bhattacharjee
Sayantani Bhattacharjee | Better Life

Entrepreneurship is about taking the road less travelled. It’s about carving a space for yourself by doing something you are passionate about, and yes! On your own terms.

Entrepreneurship, for Dr Sayantani Bhattacharjee, opened a window to the world that she always wanted to create. It has helped her challenge herself and bring out the best in her. As a doctor, healthcare is Dr Bhattacharjee’s forte. And according to her experience, rural healthcare is where the actual need is. Every need creates an opportunity for an entrepreneur.

During the last COVID-19 scenario in India, the urban healthcare infrastructures received much attention and support from various avenues, but their rural counterparts suffered the most. Even if the COVID scare wasn’t the only thing that led to jeopardizing the rural healthcare system, the absence of doctors and paramedical personnel in the rural hospitals and dispensaries led to no treatment of even routine cases, including pregnant mothers and children.

Also, the lockdown meant people couldn’t travel to cities for treatment as no transportation was available. Many lost their lives just because no vehicle could be arranged to take them to a hospital.

Unfortunately, rural healthcare is still under slumber in India compared to its urban counterpart. It is either left to the Government to arrange services here or is limited to the not-for-profit sector only.

There are almost no private players in this sector on the rural front. Hence people still suffer from ailments that may be unheard of in the city today. Primary healthcare facilities are often minuscule and lack quality standards.

Thus out of Dr Bhattacharjee’s innate desire to bridge this divide, and out of her compassion was born…

Better LifeHealthcare at the Last Mile

a for-profit, primary healthcare-driven medical centre that includes a multi-speciality family clinic, diagnostic centre, daycare, and pharmacy.

As the Founder and CEO of Better Life, Dr Bhattacharjee, says, “I was very clear right from the beginning that I wanted to create a difference here. Through Better Life, we provide affordable, accessible, convenient, sustainable, and quality-driven primary healthcare services to all, at the last mile.”

The Problem Statements that Dr Bhattacharjee wanted to address include providing affordable, accessible, convenient, sustainable, and quality-driven primary healthcare services to all at the last mile. It further contains establishing the urban concept of ‘Polyclinic – all services under one roof’ in rural areas.

Dr Bhattacharjee asks, “Why does rural healthcare always have to be in the form of NGOs or charity foundations?” and answers, “We believe that it can be for-profit and self-sustainable too!”

On the Mission of Comprehensive Healthcare Assurance

At Better Life, the team does not compromise on quality and ensures they have the latest machines and technology to cater to the best of healthcare. Yet they have worked ardently on the pricing such that it is affordable to the rural people, and no one is denied treatment owing to money.

Dr Bhattacharjee states, “At Better life, our Vision is:  To provide affordable, accessible, convenient, sustainable, and quality-driven primary healthcare services to all, at the last mile.”

While the Mission is: To establish a chain of multi-facility primary health care clinics committed to delivering affordable preventive and curative services to all in last mile areas in India.

And the Goal is: To establish quality standards in rural healthcare and replicate the urban concept of ‘Polyclinic–comprehensive OPD-based services under one roof’ in rural areas.

An Ardent Leader Trumping the Adversities

Better Life was born during the COVID times as the primary need of people. Though there was a high demand for medical services in the rural habitats, the scare, and prejudices about COVID were extremely high owing to the lack of education and awareness among people.

Dr Bhattacharjee remembers, “It was extremely challenging for us to have started our journey during these times.” But it has been full of lessons and has been extremely gratifying so far.

The Challenges she faced were a lack of basic amenities like drinking water, internet connectivity and electricity, difficult logistics, local quacks and their malpractices, lack of education, superstitions of various kinds among the tribal people, a challenging political scenario with a history of insurgency, absence of skilled workforce, and being a businesswoman in a male-dominated society.

The Great Health Investors

It was with her professional values and qualities that Dr Bhattacharjee defeated those challenges. Technological inclusion sets the team at Better Life apart and ahead of the rest. They have the latest technology-driven equipment that ensures faster and more accurate results that are absolutely crucial for correct treatment.

They also use telemedicine for a few services there, so expert help is available even in remotest areas. Technology also saves time and makes the human resource more efficient and effective.

For a rural market, listening to a customer is equally easy and challenging. Many times one has to make an extra effort to reach them. Though they may not be educated, they still have opinions and sometimes pretty significant ones! “Thus, for us, we have always been great investors of time, energy, and resources into market research,” mentions Dr Bhattacharjee.

For example, for a customer here, logistics was an important decision maker when someone chose a healthcare provider. “We might be the numero uno as far as our quality of services is concerned but would still lose out on customers because s/he couldn’t reach us on time. Thus, we started to pick up and drop services for them, which was highly appreciated in the community here. This has not only enhanced our business but has also given us an edge over our competitors. Also, this is the first of its kind in this area, further making it our USP,” says Dr Bhattacharjee.

Offering First of Their Kind Services

Better Life’s competition with the local quacks and the age-old traditions and societal norms that not only negatively influence customers but also pose a threat to their health many times. Better Life’s other USPs, thus, has always been in establishing services that are the first of their kind in this area. Here’s the list of Better Life’s first-ever services in Udalguri,

  • First Woman’s Health Camp held
  • Fetal Anomaly Scan – a special scan to identify any congenital defects in a baby inside the mother’s womb
  • Women’s Health Package–inaugurated on International Women’s Day
  • Collaborated with FITBHIM–for children’s nutrition
  • Collaborated with NGO ‘Sadichsaempowering women to make masks
  • Introducing COVID IMMUNE CARE PACK to fight Corona
  • TROP I TEST–For heart attack patients
  • Typhoid Vaccination drive
  • Introduced BL PRO + –  Better Life’s brand of protein supplement powders that aims to provide nutritional supplements to cater to nutritional disorders among people of all ages at an affordable cost.
  • Health packages for Men, Women, Kids and Diabetics
  • Started FREE DIET CHARTS provided for chronic illnesses like hypertension, diabetes, kidney patients, etc
  • Recognized as DOTS CARE CENTRE for TUBERCULOSIS patients by the Govt of Assam – the first private healthcare organization to receive this ever
  • Started pick up and drop vehicles for patients
  • Introduced HOME COLLECTION FACILITY FOR BLOOD SAMPLES for the benefit of patients
  • Started Round the Clock and 24×7 service from Sept 2021
  • Better Life Pharmacy becomes the first ever Night Pharmacy in this region
  • Started LOYALTY DISCOUNT PROGRAMME–AT Better Life Pharmacy

A Sensible Advice

As an experienced professional, Dr Bhattacharjee’s advice to the budding aspirants willing to enter the healthcare business world is full of compassionate wisdom.

She says that if you want to be an entrepreneur, you must be a good nurturer. Patience, knowledge, and strategy are your strongest weapons. Yes! The road is full of challenges and is often a roller coaster ride. If you can enjoy the turbulent, bumpy journey every day, the view at the top would surely be worth it!

Most of the answers to your questions lie within your customer. Read their mind carefully, understand the likes and dislikes, what s/he really wants and what things they surely do not want – these things, if carefully read, could become milestones of your business. So listen carefully!

In the world of entrepreneurship, nothing is generalized. It’s all about your sense of customization and agility towards solving your customer’s problem. No one size fits all. So don’t try and replicate what someone else is doing. They might be your inspiration, but your path is only yours and yours alone. No one can walk that for you!

Tech-Infused Future Healthcare

Envisioning Better Life’s operations with the emerging technologies and automated tools that are revolutionizing the business world by enabling innovations, Dr Bhattacharjee says that technological inclusion sets them apart and ahead from the rest.

They have the latest types of equipment that are technology driven and ensure faster and more accurate results that are absolutely crucial for correct treatment. Technology also saves time and makes human resources more efficient and effective.

Automation is extremely useful in running a business of any kind. “At Better Life, we have ensured all processes are computerized, and health records of beneficiaries are maintained electronically so that modernization can positively impact people’s lives, even in the remotest part of the rural society,” concludes Dr Bhattacharjee.

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