AmarLab co-founder Tazin Shadid was 28 years old when his mother was diagnosed with cancer and given 2 years to live. The disease could have easily been diagnosed from a simple blood test and could have changed the trajectory of his mother's disease. His mother has miraculously survived. But the event changed Tazin’s outlook towards life and work. At that time, Tazin was working with Microsoft in Seattle where he helped lead product innovation. Tazin felt a calling back to his home country, Bangladesh, and to focus his energy on healthcare.
The first version of Tazin’s efforts came together in a non-profit called Spreeha, which focused on bringing healthcare to the underserved and underprivileged markets, the poor, in Bangladesh. A young physician, Dr. Zahid, joined the journey around this time. They saw the transformative effect when medicine comes to you and learned a lot by serving 200,000 people, but often thought about diagnostics and Tazin’s mother and what could be done for everyone.
Tazin and Dr. Zahid learned the profound, pervasive yet fixable friction involved in people getting medical tests in Bangladesh. So they set out to fix the problem and created Amarlab, a healthcare mobility company bringing diagnostic testing to the homes or offices of people.
AmarLab makes diagnostics easy for everyone so that people can stay on top of their health. Founded in 2017, the company has experienced excellent growth over the past years using a combination of high-quality service and customer-first growth strategies. For example, in October, the company saw 35% user growth, fueled by recurring customer numbers, increasing overall growth by 60% over the last quarter.
Healthcare is a sensitive service. AmarLab has made delivering high-quality service a priority from day one, which in turn has helped the company build a loyal customer base.
“One thing we have always focused on is providing a top-notch customer experience,” said Tazin Shadid, Co-founder and CEO of AmarLab in an interview with FS. “We, me and Dr. Zahid, have not only worked in Spreeha and Amarlab, but also with other clinics and healthcare providers. From our experience, we have seen that in many cases the quality in healthcare is mostly about the compassion and empathy of the healthcare providers, which can affect the overall experience of healthcare.”
Taking AmarLab service is simple. Customers can place an order through various channels such as Facebook messenger, AmarLab website, or AmarLab’s hotline number (+8809643445566), choose their preferred diagnostic center or hospital, select the tests, and schedule a convenient time for sample collection from their preferred location, which can be their home, or office, or any location convenient for them.
What is the cost? The cost of tests is what the labs normally charge to clients. If there is a discount, AmarLab extends it to customers. Customers can pay cash on delivery, pay through the website or make Bkash payments as per their convenience.
But you may ask, how does AmarLab earn revenue? AmarLab doesn’t charge any extra fee from the patients. The cost of the lab tests is exactly what labs normally charge to clients. The company, however, charges patients for hygiene material, collection material, and transport. And, the overall cost of these purposes is 250tk only per order.
Timely report delivery. Delivering reports mainly varies based on the type of test a patient orders. Most common tests usually take less than 24 hours. However, some advanced tests require additional time taken by the labs.
Whenever the report becomes available, AmarLab collects the report and delivers it to clients. AmarLab shares the digital copy through email right away. The paper copy of the report is usually delivered within 24 hours.
There are no extra charges associated with hardcopy delivery.
The core strength of AmarLab, however, is its empathy towards the customers it serves.
“Providing healthcare service is such a sensitive responsibility,” says the company in a statement. “So we want to give the utmost comfort to our patients while giving our service. The philosophy of our service lies in being empathetic to the patients in the same way we feel when our friends, family members, or relatives become sick. The patients can feel sick both physically and mentally. And, we want to make sure their stress level gets mitigated by receiving our quality service.”
AmarLab maintains a strict Quality Control (QC) protocol to ensure high-quality service. QC protocol is divided into two phases: purchase and service.
AmarLab has trained medical technicians who visit the household as per schedule. They collect the sample (blood, urine, stool, etc.), following standard medical practice.
The company has a dedicated collection and transportation policy developed with the help of PUM Netherland (a service of the Netherlands Government) following international standards.
After collection, the sample is transported directly to the lab using AmarLab’s custom-designed temperature-controlled carrier system.
AmarLab always follows quality guidelines while purchasing any healthcare product. For example, there are two types of needles available in the market: cheap and costly. AmarLab always prefers to use the needle that comes with more perfection, no matter what the cost is.
Regarding sample collection and transportation, temperature maintenance is the most important and challenging task. Traditionally, healthcare professionals are habituated with old-fashioned thermometers. AmarLab uses a “Data Logger” that gives a temperature reading every 60 seconds, which makes monitoring the temperature of the sample being transported easier. It also allows AmarLab to take prompt measures to avoid any issues to ensure top-notch quality of transporting patient samples.
AmarLab has built an excellent relationship with its lab partners. The company empowers lab partners to better utilize their resources, serve external patients, and maximize their capacity.
The demand on modern laboratories is very high, particularly known as “Sample Load.” The walk-in patients in a lab require massive queue management. In this case, AmarLab gives the lab partners a golden opportunity to receive external patients through them.
As an outcome of the collaboration. AmarLab ensures the maximum utilization of the testing machines. At the same time, the labs don’t have to take the hassle of managing such a large number of walk-in patients.
The biggest challenge for AmarLab is that it goes against the usual human behavior of availing healthcare services. Generally, people tend to go to a hospital or a diagnostic center to perform their required lab tests. Since at-home lab service is a relatively new service, people don’t feel confident about taking at-home pathology service. People have misconceptions and unfounded concerns about sample transportation from their home to a diagnostic center.
So overcoming the barrier of hesitation is arguably the most critical challenge for AmarLab.
But it is helpful to know that nowadays the samples are even transferred from one corner of the world to the other.
AmarLab has taken measures to address these challenges. As we mentioned earlier, the company maintains a strict quality control protocol. It delivers samples to the labs as soon as it is collected following a strict international standard protocol.
While it will take time to educate the market and overcome the misconceptions, AmarLab has already been breaking barriers.
AmarLab, as an organization, exudes passion for healthcare. The company cares to send the message that it is not doing it for money alone. Founders come from backgrounds and personal histories that tell that the enterprise is more than a business to them.
“We are a passionate value-driven organization,” Mr. Tazin told us in the previously mentioned interview. “Making money was never our motivation. Dr. Zahid and I have always wanted to solve healthcare problems in Bangladesh. We want to bring a change to the entire healthcare sector of Bangladesh through our work.”
In everything it does, AmarLab tries to translate motivation by setting higher standards and delivering superior value. It has built a culture where people are passionate about healthcare and cognizant of the fact that it takes daily growth to do something well.
The dedication and hard work is paying off for AmarLab. As mentioned earlier, the company has been seeing excellent growth with superb retention rate. Its at-home diagnostic service has been experiencing double-digit growth, allowing the company to bring more services through collaboration and partnership. The company aspires to be the leading healthcare platform of Bangladesh where everyone will have the access to receive healthcare services from anywhere in the country.
Healthcare is a huge problem and demands more collaboration to bring major changes. With that in mind, AmarLab has started partnering with other healthcare service providers to make healthcare accessible for everyone.
The company has started providing doctor consultancy and medicine delivery through multiple partners. The integrated nature of the healthcare services offers an excellent opportunity for AmarLab to play a greater role in transforming the overall healthcare service in Bangladesh. AmarLab aspires to cover all the core parts of a healthcare service cycle in the future by working with partners to make quality healthcare accessible to everyone, everywhere.