Interview: Dr. Ajay Sharma, Chief Medical Director of Eye-Q India

Dr Ajay Sharma-Eye-Q India

Interview with Dr. Ajay Sharma, Chief Medical Director of Eye-Q India

Born on 30th April in 1967 in the family of freedom fighters. Passed his MBBS in 1989 from PGIMS,Rohtak.

  • Gold Medal by Intraocular Implant & Refractive Society of India (IIRSI) for his Exemplary Work and Contributions to Indian Ophthalmology. The gold medal was presented to him by Mr K. Rosaiah, Governer of Tamil Nadu at an annual conference of IIRSI held in Chennai 2014
  • Frost & Sullivan Award 2012 for the best eye care service provider.
  • Dr. Ajay Sharma – Best Ophthalmologist in Haryana 2012
  • Arch of excellence (Medicare) award 2006 at All India Achievers Conference member.
  • Best ophthalmologist in North India 2013,Business and Service excellence awards
  • Excellence award to serve the humanity by Prf. Kaptan Singh Solanki ji, Hon’ble Governer of Haryana, Punjab and Chandigarh UT in 2015

Tell us a little about yourself

Dr. Ajay Sharma: I received my bachelor’s degree from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in Ahmedabad. Coming from a humble background, I consider myself a first-generation entrepreneur.

I have 25 years of extensive corporate experience in companies such as Godrej and Bausch & Lomb, including 3 years as Bausch & Lomb’s head of surgical business for SAARC countries.

However, even after decades of successful corporate careers, I had the zeal to make a large difference in society.

So I set out on the mission to launch a chain of eye care hospitals with my dear friend Ajay Sharma, a leading ophthalmologist.

Subsequently, we founded Eye-Q in 2007 with the vision of providing world-class eye care treatments at affordable prices to common Indians.

Please tell us a little about your entrepreneurial journey

Dr. Ajay Sharma: Back in 2007, people opined that it was an outlandish idea as we were based in Gurgaon and they suggested it would have made more sense to establish a hospital in Delhi.

In fact, even members of our family were sceptical of the concept. However, we decided to open the first hospital in Rewari, a small town outside of Delhi.

As a small company that no one knew about in the beginning, we definitely had to deal with several bottlenecks.

The challenges were eventually resolved and today we are a very well-known brand in smaller towns like Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand, and Gujarat, as well as two centres in Lagos, Nigeria.

We have reached a point where we receive applications from top medical experts to join us and offer their services.

Kindly brief us about Eye-Q Super, its specialization, and the services that it offers

Dr. Ajay Sharma: Aided by our team of specialists with rich experience in their respective fields, we have successfully produced desirable results for 75lakh patients across 37 hospitals in various states in India and two hospitals in Nigeria.

Eye-Q Super-Secialty hospitals have expertise in General Eye Care, Cataract Surgery, Retina Treatment, Lasik Surgery, Glaucoma Treatment, ICL Procedure, Squint Surgery, Optical Services, Oculoplasty Services, Refractive Services as well as Tele-Consultation.

Eye-Q offers laser-automated technology for Cataract surgery which is a bladeless and painless method.

On the technological front, we are the first in Asia to invest in Elita eye correction technology which is capable of producing far better results than Smile and Contura procedures. Besides that, we have a world-class infrastructure to cater to the needs of the patients.

What made you choose this type of business?

Dr. Ajay Sharma: In terms of eye health care, India accounts for a substantial percentage of global blindness and visual impairment.

Inadequate knowledge about ocular diseases has been linked to poorer outcomes in terms of seeking medical help, screening, and prevention.

The lack of mandatory protocols and frameworks in many healthcare facilities also results in variations in outcomes, which leads to more severe eye infections and unsatisfied patients.

Except for the Centers of Excellence and a few other institutes, monitoring techniques are nearly non-existent. Furthermore, the urban-rural divide afflicts eye care.

Nearly 80% of ophthalmologists work in cities, where only 24% of the population lives. So there were the pain points that drove us to work in this area and provide services and solutions to alleviate them.

How EyeQ is delivering affordable eye care

Dr. Ajay Sharma: In comparison to other market players who aim to capitalise on the sufferings of the patients, our business model is premised to deliver affordable eye care in smaller cities as well as generate employment opportunities there.

Our topmost priority has always been the comfort and well-being of the patients. Even Mediclaim Cashless Services can also be easily availed at Eye-Q hospitals across India.

Cashless Mediclaim services provide the flexibility of availing medical treatment by an insured person without worrying about finances.

How deep is the cataract and LASIK surgery market in India and what are the growth aspects

Dr. Ajay Sharma: India is home to approximately 30% of the world’s blind people, nearly half of whom are blind due to cataracts.

As per the reports by the All India Ophthalmological Society, cataract is responsible for 62% of blindness in India.

During the fiscal year 2017-18, 64 lakh cataract surgeries were performed in India, followed by 66 lakh in 2018-19 and 64 lakh in 2019-20, 36 lakh cataract surgeries were conducted in the country during the Covid-19 period, in 2020-21, while 57 lakh such surgeries were performed in the fiscal year 2021-22, according to official data.

To address the backlog of cataract surgeries, the ministry proposed increasing the number of cataract surgeries to 7.5 million in the fiscal year 2022-23, 9 million in the fiscal year 2023-24, and 10.5 million in the fiscal year 2024-25.

Therefore, India has the largest market by volume in terms of patients going undergo cataract surgery every year.

What was the inspiration behind turning into an entrepreneur

Dr. Ajay Sharma: There is no universally agreed path to derive inspiration. It is deeply personal and stems from your values and passions.

But, no matter where you find it, it is frequently an essential element of what keeps you going when times are hard. Being around passionate people, such as my dear friend Ajay Sharma, always gets my adrenaline flowing to make ground-level changes in society.

There were also a lot of people depending on me to make the right decisions for Eye-Q to ensure that we did well, which motivated me to become a good entrepreneur.

If you had one piece of advice for someone just starting out, what would it be?

Dr. Ajay Sharma: To begin with, no one is born an entrepreneur. We all take lessons by committing mistakes. Having the willingness to accept constructive criticism and feedback is essential for any business to progress and remain competitive.

Moreover, if you want to be treated seriously in the business community, you must have a clear vision and focus while also remaining objective.

What are your success tips for young and aspiring entrepreneurs

Dr. Ajay Sharma: Take calculated risks and push yourself. Believe in your ability to succeed, and you will find ways to overcome tough challenges. If you don’t, you’ll just come up with excuses.

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