Dr A.Velumani, the Founder of Thyrocare Technologies Ltd is a an outstanding technopreneur and a true visionary to boot. Born in a landless farmer’s family in Appanickenpatti Pudur, an obscure village near Coimbatore, Velumani was a brilliant student. He became the first graduate from his village. He went on to acquire a PhD in Thyroid Chemistry. He joined as a Scientist at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Mumbai. He served BARC for fourteen years, when he decided to do something on his own.
Velumani decided to pursue his dream, which got formed while he was a Ph.D student at Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai. He used to see people camping on the road outside the hospital at Parel. These were relatives of cancer patients who did not have accommodation. He desperately wanted to mitigate the sufferings of the patients and their relatives. Realising that he was not a doctor, he decided to offer medical diagnostics, something that he could do, as a service to patients without profiting at their expense.
The outcome of this decision was Thyrocare, which he set up in Mumbai in 1996. Thyrocare is today the world’s largest thyroid testing laboratory. It has a single world-class centralized laboratory in Thane which can handle 500,000 tests a day. The company specialises in immunodiagnostics, testing blood samples for thyroid disorders. Thyrocare decided to focus on preventive healthcare. In his own words, Dr Velumani explains the rationale
At any given point of time, 10 per cent of India’s population is in need of some medical care. Out of these, only one per cent are acutely sick people. The rest nine per cent are not even aware that they have some problem. The 40,000 diagnostic laboratories in our country are all fighting for that one per cent. Few are focusing on the nine per cent, which need preventive healthcare.
We are targeting this very nine per cent. We are planning to include some common tests like heamatology, serology and microbiology. They are important in providing preventive care support. Some high-end tests are also planned.
Thyrocare realized that if they had to provide high-quality diagnostics at a low cost, they needed scale. The company pursues a unique franchisee model to collect samples from across the country. It has over 550 franchisees in last count. All the franchisee needs is a small office, a PC with an Internet connection.
For the centralized testing facility to work efficiently, it worked extensively on its logistics system. The company can provide reports to 90% of the locations in India, within 24 hours. Transporting specimens or reports are very costly considering courier and air-cargo costs. But at Thyrocare, the cost of collecting a specimen at Adyar, Chennai, at 4 p.m. to reach Santa Cruz, Mumbai, at 11 p.m. by air-cargo would be as little as 30 paise only.
Thyrocare uses technology extensively. It was the first in the country to introduce barcoded serum vials. The results of lab tests are transmitted through e-mail, available at all franchisees ensuring the cost of report delivery as truly low.
Thyrocare’s logistics system is so well-respected in the industry, that Reliance Life Sciences has tied up with the company to get samples for DNA tests at their labs using Thyrocare’s logistics.
Thyrocare uses its partnership with pharmaceutical companies for marketing. In an innovative collaboration, Thyrocare offers Cadila, Sun Pharma, Dr Reddy’s, Glaxo etc tests from Thyrocare at 50% discount. These companies give them as complimentary coupons to doctors. The doctor in turn gives it to his patients, which helps in expanding the business for all.
Thyrocare has kept its promise of providing tests at an affordable cost. Dr Velumani says “In the 12 years since I started Thyrocare, the cost of everything — rentals, fuel and reagents — had skyrocketed; yet my customers are not paying a single paisa more than they did twelve years ago,”.“Initially, my competitors called me ‘crazy’ for the rates I charged. They waited for me to go bankrupt, but in vain.”
Thyrocare is a closely held company. It achieved a turnover of Rs 80 crore in 2007. Dr Velumani has huge ambitions for Thyrocare which is clearly reflected in his twin dreams
· Thyrocare should serve 50% of the world’s population for 50% of their diagnostic needs at 50% of the cost.
· Thyrocare should be the biggest client for the top 20 diagnostic manufacturing companies in the world.
May Dr Velumani’s breed increase!
– G. Mohan