With nearly three decades of experience in industries including healthcare, consulting, technology, outsourcing, education, and ecommerce, Meena Ganesh, MD & CEO of Portea Medical is one of Fortune India’s 50 'Most Powerful Women in Business' and a #Wpower Trailblazer by Forbes India in 2017.
Meena Ganesh founded Portea Medical, a home-healthcare company operating across 16 cities in India in 2013. The journey since, she quips, has been nothing short of a roller coaster ride.
Portea brings to patients services at home, which covers the full range of geriatric, chronic, post-operative care as well as allied healthcare services that are affordable and convenient to access. They constantly speak to their customers to see what they are looking for to see if there is some way to provide the solution.
Customer service is a key to their success
Describing their work as extremely challenging and rewarding at the same time, Meena credits her entire organisation for working hard to provide the best customer experience. It has been defined as the top goal for growth at Portea.
Meena and her team have overcome multiple challenges in the course of Portea’s journey. While they have been on a roller coaster, maintaining equanimity through it all has come in handy.
One of the initial challenges for Portea Medical was gaining the trust of the ecosystem; as with any new concept, getting industry stakeholders — hospitals and customers — to understand the value proposition takes time and effort. They overcame this by meeting the customers' high expectations to ensure that their patients are satisfied.
“Portea gets more than 1,00,000 visits a month so it is thus a challenge to deliver consistent quality every day, for every customer requirement, ” adding that it is only through consistency that they have managed to deliver the quality.
In overcoming challenges and scaling the company to the next level, technology has helped the company in a big way, Meena says.
And investors have played no small role in the company's success either. Meena adds,
“Investors are partners in our journey and I have received the proper mentoring, advice and direction needed at that time.”
Tech leading the way
Tech has been integral in building solutions and Portea has used it to its advantage. According to Meena, there is a lot of technological innovation taking place in the health sector. “From great diagnostic tools to remotely managing an ICU patient, technology is helping solve real problems. Healthcare is evolving as customers and patients are becoming more empowered and knowledgeable, asking more questions and taking charge of their health.”
Portea has recently added nutrition consultation to help those customers with chronic diseases who need lifestyle and diet changes in addition to medication.
Meena has also channelled her focus onto the weaker sections of the society. “Economical weaker or the old and neglected section of our society fails to avail healthcare due to lack of resources and funds. This is a real problem and needs to be addressed from many perspectives. The company plans on collaborating with social enterprises to fight challenges faced by the weaker section, by raising funds, providing their services at a deep discount or for free or by helping them access low-cost options for hospitalisation. The plan is to identify other health challenges remotely, and amplify the resources to handle more locations and geographies using technology.”
Another cause of concern for her is education since she believes the education system in India is woeful and in dire need of an overhaul.
She says, “Our education system has always preferred people to be compliant and not questioning. This then translates into a workforce that wants to be led intellectually. This requires a significant overhaul of how we teach our children and how much we encourage them to question and explore.”
Making an impact
So what keeps this entrepreneur excited?
Startups are not for the faint-hearted
It is a well-known fact that entrepreneurship is not for the faint-hearted. It takes a lot of grit, passion, and a layer of thick skin to build a company from scratch. Meena’s guideline for young entrepreneurs is:
“Find a real problem that you are passionate to solve and be ready to put your life behind it. It is not for the faint-hearted but on the other hand the high of creating a new together is unparalleled.”
To bring more women into the workforce, Meena strongly believes that the society should not pressure young women to 'settle down'. “That’s the first step in helping young women take risks and start up. Women tend to consider themselves not fit for startups or not having all the skills needed to start up. I believe more confidence is in order. There are women-friendly funds, mentoring entities that they can access to build this confidence.”
On asked about maintaining a proper work-life balance, Meena says,
“More than work-life balance, I believe in a free flow of the two. That helps me keep on top of all my priorities. Second is ruthless prioritisation.”
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