Dec 20Featured ArticleIssue

Healthcare Leader: Sudhaker Jadhav

Chief Operating Officer, Oasis Fertility

When the nation called for a complete lockdown on March 24, it was a chaotic situation and many IVF centres in the country were forced to pause putting a lot of pressure on the system with no revenues. There was no visibility and certainty as to when the pandemic would end. There were almost two months of zero revenues in the industry and only in late May and in early June, the IVF centres started to resume their operations. Liquidity was a major issue and of course paying salaries to our staff and medical teams were the biggest priority for us at Oasis Fertility.

According to a Grandview research report, Asia Pacific accounted for the largest share in terms of the number of IVF cycles performed in 2019, with Japan, China, and India being the major contributors to the region.The India IVF Services Market garnered $478.2 million in 2018 and was expected to reach $1.45 billion by 2026, at a CAGR of 14.7 per cent from 2019 to 2026.The potential of COVID-19 severe pandemic necessitated the development of an organised and well-reasoned plan for the management of embryology/andrology laboratories while safeguarding the wellbeing of patients and IVF staff. We at Oasis Fertility created an indigenous and exhaustive SOP and road map even considering a second wave of the pandemic. Our priority was to give a very high degree of safety assurance to our patients and all our staff and stringent safety protocols right from the patient’s phone call to the centre till she gets her embryo transferred.There was no reference point for us to learn from the past, it was those crucial 45 to 60 days which taught us how to fight this pandemic.

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Looking back, we at Oasis Fertility feel that we have come a long way in setting up some decent safety protocols.On a different tangent, I think COVID-19 has taught us to be considerate and empathetic towards people and restricted us from spending money on a luxury.I feel that as healthcare leaders, we need to reassure our employees and their jobs. We always believed that patients come second. We have a clear understanding that a happy employee makes a customer happy. We take a lot of pride that at Oasis Fertility we never displaced or laid off any of our employees and during the tough time, we showed them the solidarity by paying the salaries.Second, I think we should be more proactive and anticipate the situation to continue for another year or so and start planning resources for our goals.

We all know that online consultations have grown a 1000 fold but unfortunately in IVF treatments it doesn’t work that way as the patients have to come to the centre, But, however, we have tried and reduced the no of visits by launching IVF at home and also doing a lot of things remotely such as, registrations, appointment booking, history taking, counselling and patient education which is now done totally contactless.We anticipate that the next financial year would be better.As mentioned earlier, employee engagement was our top priority during the lockdown in terms of just not supporting them financially by assuring their salaries but also frequently checking on the well being of them and their family members. There were instances where our admin team ensured a seamless supply of groceries and other essentials to our employees who were COVID positive.

On the patient front, we had launched a contactless patient engagement platform which makes the IVF journey for a patient very smooth, right from the booking of the appointment to the day of the embryo transfer.We at Oasis Fertility are sensitive about the needs of the patients. We have a deep understanding of the customer demographics and have also understood that money has become dearer. We came up with some very aggressive economical packages tocater to the patients thereby continuing the great level of patient satisfaction and also offered them zero per cent EMI options through different fintech companies.I think the industry leaders should look at curtailing the spiralling cost of IVF and pass on the benefits to the patients.

This is possible if the revisions happen right from the supply side like IVF consumables and pharmacy. We have been talking to the leaders from the supply side to look at a price revision. Some aggregators are playing a decent role a decent role who can bring down the cost per cycle. We feel that these kinds of aggregators should be encouraged who can bring in a lot of value on board for both the IVF space and the patients.I feel that next year could get better as there will be a spike in footfall at IVF centres and also people per se will feel safe going to a stand-alone clinic vis-a-vis a fertility centre being operated within a multi-speciality hospital or a mother and child hospital.The numbers would be very positive as the demand which was restricted due to corona will ease out and also hoping that by the starting of the coming year we might get a vaccine.

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