Recently, Pathkind Diagnostics and Hero Electrics entered into a partnership, wherein Hero Electric scooters will be customised for Pathkind with cargo attachments to store critical equipment for all health-metric tests. The cargo attachment shall come equipped with an inbuilt UV steriliser to maintain cleanliness and germ-free equipment at all times. In a detailed interview, Sanjeev Vashishta, CEO, Pathkind Diagnostics and Sohinder Gill, CEO, Hero Electric explain about the partnership goals to Raelene Kambli
What is the rationale behind the partnership? What does the partnership mean to both the organisations?
Sanjeev Vashishta: Both Pathkind and Hero Electric believe in conservation of the environment. We strongly feel that this is the time to act as we can’t procrastinate the decision to take care of the environment. Given the fragility of our ecosystem, it is imperative to make a beginning, howsoever insignificant, to take up the cause jointly. Both the Organisations are of the firm view that it’s best to go the preventive way rather than lament over the adverse consequences. Diagnosis is all about “prevention” and thus, Pathkind feels that a preventive step at this time will go a long way in determining the kind of world we want to leave for our generations to come.
What’s the nature of this partnership and for how many years have both the companies committed this partnership?
Sanjeev Vashishta: Pathkind has embarked upon its journey to create a highly credible network of diagnostics labs and centres across the length and breadth of the country. In the last just three years, Pathkind has set up a credible network of 50 labs and 700 plus collection centres across nine states. We have started using the EVs to ferry the samples in NCR and depending on the availability of infrastructure to charge the vehicles, availability of maintenance / after services etc., we will expand the usage of EVs across all the states. This partnership is not limited by any time/years. We hope to continue using the vehicles till perpetuity and we are certain, Hero Electric being on the cutting edge of technology, will strive to continue offering state-of-the-art vehicles to us.
This partnership involves customised Hero Electric scooters for Pathkind with cargo attachments to store critical equipment for all health-metric tests. So what kind of tests will this involve?
Sanjeev Vashishta: Pathkind is into diagnostics and carries out all kinds of pathology tests across the complete spectrum of pathology, including biochemistry, haematology, serology, cytogenetics, microbiology, molecular biology tests etc. Today the samples are picked from over 700 locations across nine states and are ferried to the closest Labs for testing. The samples are typically picked from the collection centres, hospitals, doctors’ clinics or from the patients from their respective homes. These samples have to be carried to the Labs under temperature-controlled boxes to ensure the integrity of the samples. Hitherto we were using the bikes running on conventional fuel (Petrol) to ferry these samples which are now being shifted to the E-bikes (EVs). With this step, we will be able to reduce the carbon footprint considerably, at least in our operations.
In which region of India will this initiative be launched?
Sanjeev Vashishta: We have launched this in NCR and are actively working towards rolling this out in the other states where we have the operations i.e., Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Jharkhand, Haryana, Rajasthan, Bihar, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh as soon as the requisite infrastructure is made available by Hero Electric. Further, as we are expanding the operations in the other states across India, we would aim to introduce EVs in all our operations.
How does Pathkind benefit from this partnership?
Sanjeev Vashishta: Although, usage of EVs makes a lot of economic sense, yet we are looking at the bigger picture. The long-term benefits to the environment far outweigh the financial benefits. Either way, using EVs brings huge benefits to our operations.
What per cent growth and market share is Pathkind eyeing for the organisation due to this partnership?
Sanjeev Vashishta: It is difficult to ascribe any direct relationship between the per cent growth/ increase in market share due to this partnership as we have just started our association with Hero electric. However, we are certain that we will be assiduously working towards replacing the vehicles that use fossil fuel to the EVs as we are convinced that it is the right thing to do.
What is the investment involved in this partnership? Will Pathkind save costs and how?
Sanjeev Vashishta: For us, it is a strategic decision to shift to EVs for ferrying our samples and eventually to collect the samples from the doorsteps of the customers. The association model is evolving and we are looking at a partnership which is sustainable and makes commercial sense to both the organisations. Needless to mention, we envisage considerable cost savings by shifting to EVs as the running cost of EVs is going to be far more economical vis-a-vis the vehicles using fossil fuel.
How will this cost-saving translate into benefits for patients?
Sanjeev Vashishta: Pathkind’s mission is ‘To be a Trusted Brand having Pan India footprint, making superior quality diagnostics services accessible to the masses at an affordable price through Innovative means.’ The operative words stress the need to make services accessible at affordable prices using Innovative means. Using a fleet of E-Bikes is one such innovation. Given the fact that in our pursuit to reach out to the masses even in the hinterland with the Labs, where the tests are performed (and not just the collection centres), is a capital/ OPEX intensive proposition. To ensure that we can sustain costs and keep investing in the Labs, we will have to bring in innovative techniques, technologies and services into play. Patients are bound to be benefitted a great deal by getting Lab services in their cities/towns, within best possible Turnaround Time (TAT) at an affordable price. Quick TAT helps the doctors immensely in starting the treatment at an early date which brings big pecuniary benefits to the exchequer and the individuals.
What are the unique features of this electric scooter? And how will it ensure the safety of the diagnostic samples collected?
Sohinder Gill: As part of this collab, we have given Hero Electric Nyx ER scooters. They wear the Pathkind logo and are also capable of fitting a 3rd battery for an extended range of over 150 kms per charge. The riders can comfortably drive Hero Nyx direct from home, never run out charge and never needing to visit even a petrol pump. This is just the start and going forward we will take regular feedback and customize it according to their needs. The Nyx already comes with a cargo compartment and that will ensure a dedicated space for keeping all medical equipment and samples safely and securely.
How Hero Electric’s contributions in the healthcare sector?
Sohinder Gill: We have been into the healthcare sector for a while now. Our Mediva brand is a healthcare equipment manufacturer and is engaged in delivering quality medical equipment for individual and institutional requirements. It’s a product design and equipment manufacturers meet global standards which cater to the growing Indian market in addition to worldwide exports. Under the Mediva brand, we have mobility assistance products such as walkers, manual wheelchairs, electric wheelchairs, and standard products (bath safety, ward equipment and beds) both for home use or hospitals and clinics.
How promising does the healthcare sector seem to Hero Electric?
Sohinder Gill: As a brand, we have always been vocal about the need to care and save for the environment. At the core of Hero Electric is the need to push EV mobility across India to kickstart the electric movement in India. The advantages of EVs are manifold: they are environment friendly, low on maintenance, easy to learn and manoeuvre, and EVs also have the potential of balancing the charging grid of India as well – as charging of EVs will help put use the excess power generated in the night. So, anyhow you look at EVs, they are beneficial for our country – as we witnessed during the cleaner air quality during the lockdown – and the world in general.
Which is Hero Electric other healthcare partners in India?
Sohinder Gill: Besides Pathkind, Hero Electric has quite a few associations with the medical world. Our Hero bikes are a popular choice for nurses and medical staff and hospital campuses as a noiseless, zero pollution means of commute. Some pharmacy chains use Hero bikes for home delivery of medicines. We tried a small lot of Hero 2W ambulances as a first responder in the narrow lanes of some cities carrying first aid equipment that can run on the bike batteries.
Does Hero Electric have any plans specifically for healthcare?
Sohinder Gill: We are focusing on the healthcare sector from both partnership and Mediva brand point of view. So many studies point out to the PM2.5 playing havoc with our lungs, we would like to establish a clear link between a cleaner environment and good health and therefore electric mobility as the right choice for the polluting Indian cities. The E cycles that we have added to our portfolio recently also another great way to exercise at ease and maintain good health. The powered wheelchair that we make in Mediva is a natural extension of electric mobility as a great aid for the hospice needs. To sum up, one means of good health is clean air and we are in the business of doing our bit in providing environmentally friendly mobility solution.