Jiva Ayurveda recently opened its first telemedicine centre in Pune and plans to serve patients in regional languages through it. The company has a chain of 45 ayurvedic clinics and over the next few years has plans for extensive expansion. Madhusudan Chauhan, Director, Jiva Ayurveda, in an interview with Usha Sharma, talks about the company’s growth prospects
Tell us about Jiva Ayurveda. How has the company established its niche in the Indian market?
Jiva Ayurveda was started with a vision of helping people live a healthier, happier life by bringing authentic ayurveda to every home. So it’s not as much a niche as it is mass. Dr Partap Chauhan founded Jiva Ayurveda in 1992 as a small clinic on the outskirts of Delhi. To make ayurveda more accessible, he launched the world’s first ayurvedic clinic online. In 2000, Jiva TeleDoc Project was undertaken. It created a successful model of bringing high quality ayurvedic advice to the remotest villages and deliver the treatment at the patient’s doorstep. This project was a part of the Media Lab Asia, in collaboration with the Government of India. Jiva’s TeleDoc Project went on to win the World Sumit Award by the UN at Geneva, Switzerland in 2004. Jiva continued to pioneer the use of technology to set up the world’s first ayurvedic tele-medicine centre. Today, the organisation reaches out to thousands of patients every day, delivering customised, personalised ayurvedic treatment in over 2,000 towns and villages across the nation.
Recently, the company has opened its first telemedicine centre in Pune. Tell us more about its activities.
Jiva Ayurveda runs the tele-medicine centre consulting over 6,000 patients daily, with a large number of these patients coming from small towns and villages. The centre in Pune is extended to serve patients in Marathi language in addition to Hindi and English.
The company is known for delivering customised medicines to nooks and corners of India. What challenges did it face and how were they mitigated?
Jiva Ayurveda has done a great deal of work in standardising the practices, but not the treatment, thereby championing the cause of keeping ayurveda’s authentic approach of personalised treatment intact while making the services available to a large number of people. To ensure quality and effectiveness of treatment, Jiva has evolved best in class training and quality practices, putting multiple feedback and check points in place. This always ensures that the patient and patient-relief become primary.
Another challenge we faced when we started out was that ayurveda was not the first choice of treatment. While people may have had belief in ayurveda, it was, in many instances, the last resort. Jiva and Dr Chauhan, Director, Jiva Ayurveda have emphasised greatly on the need of continuously educating people on what ayurveda does and how it works. This increases the understanding that people have about Ayurveda, clears the mis-conceptions and increases credibility.
Which disease profiles are you working on?
Jiva Ayurveda focuses mainly on diseases that are classified as chronic and lifestyle disorders. There are great treatment options and outcomes that ayurveda has to offer to people suffering from disorders such as diabetes, joint pains, skin disorders, digestive problems, etc. An ayurvedic doctor understands the root cause of the disease and offers a customised treatment to the patient.
A lot of discussions are being held on online pharmacies in India and the government is in the process of formulating guidelines for it. Do you think the concept will work in India?
In a country as big and diverse as India, bringing healthcare to all is a great challenge. A lot needs to be done in terms of infrastructure and manpower to make good quality healthcare accessible and affordable to all. With technology, a number of these challenges can be met. Online pharmacies have lately been in discussion. While it will be wonderful to provide improved access and availability of medicines to people, it requires a dialogue between the industry and the government to ensure that the regulations around it are sound enough to protect the interest of the patient while providing enough space for innovation to take place. The future is going to about how better quality healthcare can be delivered by innovative technology integrations.
The company started its ‘online clinic’ way back in 1995. Why did you feel the importance of adopting this method? Tell us about the success mantra of the clinics?
If ayurveda is to become globally accepted, it is important to establish the wonderful science behind ayurveda and explain it in a logical way. Most people try to mystify ayurveda, whereas by demystifying it, it creates more acceptance and clarifies doubt. The online clinic was started with the intention of reaching out to more people and helping them understand how ayurveda can help them live a balanced and healthier life. Jiva Ayurveda has a deep belief in reaching out to people directly and educating them, for which reason online and a direct-to-patient method was adopted. Our success mantra has just been that we have remained very patient-focused consistently, trying to innovate to make the best of Ayurvedic treatment available to the patient.
Tell us about Jiva Ayurveda’s marketing strategy.
Jiva believes in the concept of educating. Ayurveda is not just about treating a disease, it is a way of life. Jiva runs a number of educational and awareness programmes that promote the concept of healthy, natural, wholesome living based on simple principles of Ayurveda. We receive peoples’ responses on how they have made small changes in their lives based on the shows that they saw on television and the huge difference it has made in their lives. There is no better cure than prevention. We reach out to people through television, social media and on-ground camps, among other things.
Do you have an alliance with the government?
The government’s agenda is to promote both ayurveda and telemedicine. Jiva is a leader in both the causes. Currently, we do not have an alliance with the government, however, we are looking at some initiatives of the government that can strengthen the reach of our telemedicine services.
What are the company’s plans for the current fiscal? What strategies have been adopted to achieve them?
Jiva Ayurveda currently runs a national chain of 45 ayurvedic clinics and the largest ayurvedic telemedicine practice. Over the next few years, we plan to expand our reach to over 100 clinics and serve patients in most regional languages in the country through the telemedicine practice. We are focusing tremendously on research with a commitment towards delivering even better treatment outcomes and quality treatment of the highest standard to our patients.