We are focused on expanding in India and overseas: Sriram Iyer, Metropolis Healthcare

Having started its journey with a single laboratory in Mumbai, Metropolis Healthcare has today grown into a chain of over 125 clinical laboratories and 1,500 collection centers in 7 countries in South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Its operating revenue stood at Rs 815 crore in 2021.

In today’s edition of the e4m Pride of India series, we caught up with Sriram Iyer, Chief Revenue Officer, Metropolis Healthcare, to understand the lab’s journey, challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic and plans to the future.

Excerpts:

Over the past four decades since the establishment of Metropolis, Indian society and the field of medical diagnostics have changed dramatically. How has Metropolis evolved to overcome these challenges?

Metropolis was founded by Dr. Sushil Shah as a unique diagnostic laboratory in Mumbai with 35 employees. It was then called the laboratory of Dr. Sushil Shah. He then created a reputation for the lab with high quality pathology services in Mumbai. From there, he constantly strived to offer the best tests and services to patients.

Our lab was the first in India to offer thyroid, fertility and hormone testing. The real transition happened when our current MD, Ameera Shah, arrived after completing her business studies in the United States. The business flourished under his leadership. We have grown from one to over 90 labs and Metropolis is considered one of the best diagnostic players in India. Since then, we have experienced organic and inorganic growth with the arrival of new partners. We became a publicly traded company and disrupted the diagnostics market through customer acquisition and test accuracy. Precision is in our DNA. We all know where we came from and where we want to go in the future.

The Covid-19 pandemic may have been the greatest disruptor in human history. There were huge demands for testing and labs were short of kits and manpower. How have you scaled up your operations and organized funds and kits to meet demand?

What happened during the pandemic was completely unexpected. To carry out tests, we have collaborated with state governments and hospitals, and home visits have taken off considerably. The safety of sample collection personnel was paramount to us. They needed PPE kits and safety gear which helped us give customers a lot of confidence. The shortage of test kits, reagents, PPE and other essentials has taken a toll on our procurement department.

We have experienced spikes in traffic during pandemic waves. All these challenges have enabled us to better prepare for the future.

What has been your most popular advertising campaign in recent years?

We hosted a large number of blogs during the pandemic, which increased website traffic almost 15 times. We also did paid campaigns on Google and Facebook. We focus on targeted campaigns on digital platforms. Our product is not for TV but digital as it helps us reach the target audience.

In addition to campaigns, there is a need to establish a direct connection with customers and a network with doctors. Thousands of customers come into our labs and collection centers and we discuss our packages with them. A mix of all these strategies worked in our favour.

What ad agency do you work with and what is the ad spend like today versus pre-pandemic?

We work with 21N for creatives and campaigns, media vehicles and a sister company for paid digital campaigns. I will not be able to share the amount of the expenses.

You acquired Hitech Diagnostics (along with its subsidiary Centralab Healthcare Services for over Rs 630 crore) last year. What was the purpose of this acquisition?

This acquisition is part of our growth strategy for southern India. Hitech is one of the strongest brands out there with huge B2C business in Chennai which has strengthened our position in South India and this will help us expand further in TN, Kerala and Karnataka.

Do you plan to develop further? You are already present in seven countries including Sri Lanka. How is the situation of Metropolis in Sri Lanka evolving?

We have huge expansion plans. We are looking to increase our testing menu. We seek to enter deeper into the African continent. I will disclose these things after board approval. We plan to open 90 additional laboratories, 20 of which are already in the finalization phase. We want to expand further into Tier 2 & 3 cities in India to provide the best services with more than 1000 additional collection centers in the next three years. We are a science-based company, so we will continue to focus on R&D, oncology and molecular genomics to offer high-end diagnostic facilities.

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