Home healthcare provider Portea’s success underlines the wisdom in focussing on lesser tapped customer segments for a steady route to growth. Not only has the company chosen to remain “patient-centred” as opposed to “provider-centred”, it also wants to specialise in a way that keeps its growth in line with its philosophy of effective continuity of care.
As part of executing on its philosophy of patient-driven care services, Portea has attempted to turn the concept of loyalty programmes on its head. Named ‘Cherish’, it is designed to “encourage positive behaviour among its members” – broadly, positive health behaviour of patients attract rewards. Customised health information and special offers are part of the loyalty programme.
Loyalty to growth
Meena Ganesh, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, says, “From an impact on bottomline, it induces ‘repeats’ among the customer base while also bringing in referrals of other customers at a lower cost.” Besides the emphasis on the viability of such schemes, Portea also caters to B2B clients (large corporations whose employees need healthcare advice or the parents of employees that require home care, for example). However, about 70 per cent of Portea’s business continues to be of a B2C nature.
“We’ve tried to ensure that any service we deliver stands on its own legs. We don’t discount just to get more customers. We’ve been gross margin positive for a while now. For profitability at a company level, we need to reach a larger size and we’re working on this,” says Meena.
Portea has made news in the recent past for its acquisitions and partnerships. But even after four years in business and now operating in 16 cities, Meena feels it is crucial to continue managing the pace of growth.
“We offer a comprehensive set of services and it’s more important to build this out strongly across the locations that we’re in. So that would mean going deeper into each city, going deeper into each kind of service.
“That would mean if I already provide eldercare services, thinking about specialising in managing a patient’s dementia, or providing high quality care for cancer patients,” Meena explains.
In years to come, Portea may be in as many as 40 cities, she adds. This plan would, however, move ahead with an eye on how technology-led models of care become possible even for India’s smaller cities.
(The article first appeared in The Hindu BusinessLine.)