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Entrepreneurship is a road less taken. And the reason behind it is quite obvious. Entrepreneurs are change-bringers, and they drive solutions that stimulate transformation. In this vein, many opportunities are strewn across our rural terrain. Rural healthcare is among them and is widely unaddressed. While there are apparent improvements because of corporate participation and resources through the National Rural Health Mission, it is insufficient.

There is a toxic mix of poor quality, high costs, frequent blunders, and limited access for the poor. Many in the healthcare hierarchy are worried about the situation, and they’re taking tactful attempts to improve things. Dr. Sayantani Bhattacharjee is one of them. The following article follows her passion and how she is creating a fundamental change in quality healthcare.

Dr. Bhattacharjee has substantial expertise in cross-functional leadership roles in the healthcare industry, besides being a doctor. While she might have made a good living in the city, she discovered her passion for rural healthcare and its hurdles. The immediate stimulant was the invocations of COVID-19.

The urban healthcare infrastructures received huge attention and support from various avenues, but their rural counterparts suffered substantially. The dearth of doctors and paramedical professionals at rural hospitals and dispensaries resulted in even common cases, such as expecting mothers and children, remaining untreated. People couldn’t travel to cities for better facilities because travel was limited during the lockdown. In fact, several people died because of transportation errors Dr. Bhattacharjee couldn’t stand it. She sought to provide affordable, accessible, sustainable and qualified healthcare services at the last mile. Taking a bold decision, she founded Better Life – a for-profit primary healthcare centre having a multi-specialty family clinic, diagnostic centre, daycare and pharmacy. The firm primarily operates in Udalguri, Assam. With a distinct motto, ‘Healthcare at the Last Mile,’ Dr. Bhattacharjee envisions a PAN-India footprint with an established chain of multi-facility, primary health care clinics offering cost-effective and qualified healthcare.

Without question, private healthcare provides better quality treatments and highly qualified specialists in their fields. Unfortunately, as compared to metropolitan counterparts, rural healthcare in India is still dormant and limited to arrangements made by the government or NGOs. Even the basic healthcare facilities are often minuscule and lack quality standards. And the surrounding challenges in rural often restrict access to urban healthcare. Better life aims to level the playing field. Its 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.

Dr. Bhattacharjee argues that rural healthcare should be forprofit and self-sufficient rather than being overseen solely by charitable trusts. She has fully integrated Better Life with the most up-to-date equipment essential for proper therapy and accurate outcomes, putting her ideas into action. Digitalized practices like Tele ECG are conducted to avail expert help in last-mile areas. The tech-blended model makes Better Life efficient and effective. Also, its treatments are ardently priced such that no one is denied treatment owing to money.

Besides technology and resources, it’s important to listen and understand customer concerns to be more effective. And in the rural market, one has to make an extra effort to realize people’s issues and viewpoints. Hence, Better Life invests a great deal of time and resource into market research. To explain this better, The Good Doctor shares an instance in her voice, “For one of our customers here, logistics was an integral part. While we may be the numero uno for our quality, transportation errors often stop them from reaching us on time. Hence, we started pickup and drop services for required patients, which is very appreciated by our community.” This is also the first of its kind in the area, providing a distinct advantage over its competitors.

With its complete healthcare solution, Better Life has made a diligent presence in its area of operation as compared to its peers. It has introduced a slew of first-of-its-kind services in Udalguri in less than a year that caused a big splash. Few of the notable mentions are:

  • Fetal Anomaly Scan – It identifies congenital defects in a baby inside the mother’s womb
  • Introduced Oxygen Concentrator Machine, Injectable Contraceptives
  • Women’s Health Package
  • COVID IMMUNE CARE PACK to fight Coronavirus
  • TROP I TEST – For cardiac patients
  • Pap Smear Test for Cervical Cancer Screening
  • Introduced BL PRO+ – Its personal brand of protein supplement powder catering to nutritional disorders to people of all age.

Also, with a keen eye on sustainable development it has laid down several celebrated initiatives and practices such as:

  • 1st Woman’s Health Camp
  • Collaborated with FITBHIM – for children’s nutrition
  • Collaborated with NGO “Sadichsa” – empowering women to make masks
  • Typhoid Vaccination drive
  • Health packages for Men, Women, Kids and Diabetics
  • Free diet plans for people with chronic illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes, kidney disease, and so on.

Better Life Pharmacy is also the first-ever Night Pharmacy in this region. Since Sept 1, it has started 24×7 roundthe-clock services. Better Life Pharmacy has also started a ‘Loyalty Discount Programme,’ first ever in Udalguri. The Govt. of Assam has recognized one of its facilities, DOTS Care Centre for Tuberculosis, and it’s the first to earn this. Overall, everything it has done has reverberated across its locale.

It’s going beyond demographic challenges (internet connectivity, electricity, lack of education, superstitions, political insurgency, etc.) to establish itself as a promising care provider. Nothing less can be said for Dr. Bhattacharjee. Her journey is quite similar to women growing and building on their passion. It’s her hardcore dedication that keeps her focused on her goal – to create a difference.

Better Life was born with a strong purpose – so strong that it attracted young and dynamic people to associate. Starting with merely 9 people, Better Life is now a powerful pack of 25 people and growing. Everyone is driven by teamwork and dedicated – to the long run. Better Life is customercentric, and no advertisement can beat the power of wordof-mouth recommendation of an employee. Everyone’s feedback and suggestions are acknowledged, which keeps them engaged.

Dr. Bhattacharjee has also inculcated its culture with a constant learning and knowledge drive. This comes from timely brainstorming, training sessions, and other participatory engagements, where the staff earnestly takes part. “Right from medical skill upgradation to learning the art of selling, there’s room for everyone,” adds the good doctor.

Although Dr. Bhattacharjee has conquered many leadership milestones, mushrooming Better Life reflects
her special forte. She has always favoured challenges over comfort – and establishing a stand in the community as a ‘Shentrepreneur’ is a colourful feather on the cap. The company has clocked a turnover of over INR 1 Cr. It has served over 3500 beneficiaries, including 2000+ ultrasound therapies and 500+ ECGs. An impact of this scale, especially in just 10 months, is not something to be taken lightly. It hasn’t been a walk in the park, but her determination and sheer will have helped Better Life bloom in all aspects.

Now, Dr. Bhattacharjee plans to set up more medical centres in last-mile areas across the North East. She is also focusing on enhancing the company’s portfolio, entering other verticals like healthcare skill building & education, healthcare-related products and Nutraceuticals. These will assist Better Life in raising its region’s health standards.

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