Dr. Ruchi Dass, Healthcare on Mobiles
Oprah Winfrey has been inspiring us each month with her unique approach to life and to creating our very best lives so, as a tribute to her, A La Oprah, what did you know for sure when you decided to be a solo business practitioner?
I graduated from Dental School and started my career as a Dentist hoping to ‘Bring a Smile’ to the people I served. Somewhere along the way, I realized that if I had to do more than ‘bring a smile’ to the starving millions in the world, I had to take a different path. With that realization, it dawned on me that the future of healthcare is tied to efficient use of technology in healthcare and helping medical practitioners adopt newer ways of treating disease. Healthcare is a basic necessity in life and should be accessible to people in all walks of life regardless of color, creed, wealth or political affiliation. I used this philosophy in life to guide my professional career and started working towards establishing a solo career in mHealth/eHealth.
Take us through a typical day with your schedule from start to finish.
6:30 AM- Suryanamaskar and Yoga
7:30 AM- Get ready for work. My husband is really understanding and helpful. I finish almost half a days job in minutes with his support.
8:30 AM- Reach work and start early morning meetings. I manage 3 time zones.
6:30 PM- In My Car- “Bahadur” my chauffeur takes good care of the bumps on Indian roads while I update my blog and twitter with thoughts and ideas learnt and exchanged with my peer group.
7:30 PM- Cook dinner for my Family, Out on stroll around 9 PM
10 PM – Read My Favorite “Panchatantra Stories” with a glass of Cold Milk and Honey. In
Deep Sleep by 11 PM
PS: Blackberry keeps on buzzing, My Alarm clock ticks at night and I could hear the Tyre rub on the busy road outside. But I am already asleep!
What are a few of your “can’t live without” applications on your personal computer/smart phone?
I am addicted to my “Blackberry” – email and messenger to keep me connected with my friends and colleagues from around the world. Applications like “Not while driving”, Calmbiance, Business Card Reader and Translator are my daily buddies. I use the browser on my Smartphone or my PC to keep track of the world outside – business news, stock market etc.
What are your tricks for time management?
My mantra for time management is PPP – “Prioritize + Plan = Perfect!” You need to decide how much time you need to allocate to people around you in both corporate and personal spheres of life. Time management is the first key to work-life balance. Planning is the key to keeping the “chaos” in check.
Best advice received when you started your business?
As I embarked on this new adventure in my career, I’ve had the good fortune of being surrounded by mentors and friends who I could turn to for guidance and advice. It’s hard to pick one piece of advise when there is so much to learn when you start your own enterprise, so I will share some learnings:
One of the strongest assets to building a successful Business is the management team. Vikram Gupta, COO India Venture fund once said, “If I had a choice between an A product and a B management team or an A management team and a B product, more often than not, I should select the B product with an A management team. “
My Husband, Vikas who is a Retail professional ran me through practical examples from his retail background that helped me understand the value of customer engagement – he taught me that having a good product wasn’t going to sell if it didn’t fit/meet the needs of the customer. As an entrepreneur, it is not important to know what a customer wants, but important to “ask” what a customer wants!
David Van Eck, Eclipsys made me realize that a product or service doesn’t necessarily have to be unique, but you have to think of yourself as providing a distinct set of benefits to customers. Even if it is an advantage that will not last forever, it has to last long enough to produce significant profits over the cost of your investments.
Dr Rathan Kelkar made me aware of my motivation- is your goal primarily financial wealth, or are you primarily interested in the personal fulfillment that you will achieve through your entrepreneurial journey?
If given an extra hour each day to seek new ideas and brainstorm, what are some sources you turn to?
The internet is a great resource for information and I usually wander to some of my favorite websites to draw inspiration for new ideas and learn in the process.
Given the current economic climate, how has your strategy for your companies changed for the short-term and long-term?
While we live in a global economy, it is important to understand trends in the local geography where you intend to do business. While the world is reeling from a recessionary/pessimistic economic climate, India is thriving from a booming economy. Our short-term strategy is aligned to the needs of the current business opportunities that we are pursuing in various parts of the world, while our long-term strategy is aligned to our mission and values and is not impacted by the current economic climate.
What’s been your proudest achievement as an entrepreneur?
In India, it is rare to find a specialist practicing medicine in rural areas and so a patient in need of specialist care needs to travel a long distance to the city. To the villagers this meant loss of income and significant inconvenience. We deployed a mobile health solution that connected patients in a rural population to specialists in urban areas and significantly reduced their travel burden. Impacting the lives of thousands in the village was a proud achievement for me as a physician, entrepreneur and a fellow human being!
What are some of the ways that you achieve balance in your life?
I am a poised person naturally. I don’t do much to stay balanced. My Mom says, “A person who is at peace with himself, discerns peace all around”.
Two books you would recommend highly to our readers (and why?)
Go Kiss the World- Author- Subroto Bagchi- You will learn that professional success is not an elusive feat. If you have larger than life aspirations, this book is a must read”.
Engaging Leadership- Author- Chris Parker- Gifted to me by a very dear friend, this book is very good read. It talks about how to engage large number of people to bring about radical change amongst a wide population whilst minimizing time wasted in politics, anxiety, negative stories and other internal battles. It is exceptionally well documented and based on some of the latest discoveries and thinking in strategic marketing, leadership, neurology and psychology.
If you received a surprise bonus equal to half of your monthly salary, what (if anything) would you spend it on?
Money can buy you a little happiness (occasionally!) – I would splurge a portion of the bonus on a good book or something else that would make me smile and stash the rest for a rainy day.
What are some of your most rewarding charitable involvements and why?
Initially, when “mobile health” was not a buzz word, I was not paid for my involvement as a consultant on such projects. We used to go to villages where people were hungry for the right information and didn’t have access to basic healthcare facilities. We implemented pilot projects in villages to connect them to mainstream centers of care. This work gave me a sense of personal fulfillment and kept me energized!
Who has been the most influential person to you as you’ve advanced in your career?
My parents have influenced me the most. The values they instilled in me while I was growing up have not only helped me advance in my career but also become a better human being.
To learn more about Dr. Ruchi Dass’s work, click on the link below: