The Rising Giant: Decoding Omron Healthcare’s India strategy

Riding on its quality and accredited range of products, with focus on cardiology and respiratory segments, the Omron Healthcare has reached a turn over of INR 130 crore within just eight years of formal incorporation in India

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Omron Healthcare, now a well known name in India, had started selling products in the country even much before 2010 when it was formally incorporated. The company is a key player in the healthcare segment providing innovative medical technologies for monitoring and therapy. The eight year old company in India has registered a remarkable growth in these years with the turnover of INR 130 crore during FY 2017-18. The company is now targeting the year on year revenue of INR 189 crore in the current financial year, which means a whopping growth of over 45 percent.

Few would know that Omron Healthcare was the pioneer in introducing manual and digital blood pressure units to the home healthcare market in the world. The company has the highest market share in the home-use digital BP monitor in India and across the globe. 

Headquartered in Kyoto, Japan, Omron Corporation is a multi-billion-dollar, diversified company with business units producing industrial automation products, electronic components, and healthcare equipment and ticketing systems.

What and how does Omron sell in India?

The company’s portfolio comprises of home healthcare products such as blood pressure monitors, respiratory therapy devices, body fat monitors, pedometers, digital thermometers, massage devices and many other products. Besides quality and accuracy accreditations from international bodies, the USP of the Omron’s product portfolio has been its ‘Bio-information Sensing’ technology. 

The company sells both directly and through its channel partners. It has recently announced the opening of 48 Pickup centers in addition to seven existing authorized after-sales Service centers across tier-1 and 2 cities. This strategic move denotes company’s efforts to deepen its reach and connect with the end-customers via strengthening its after sales service infrastructure by introducing unique concepts and adding value to the existing facilities. These centers are located at New Delhi, Gurgaon, Mumbai, Bangalore, Cochin, Chennai, and Kolkata. While these act as facilitation points for customers in top and tier 1 cities, Omron plans to expand in 70 cities.

Talking about the current focus of the company, Mr Rohit Saini, Head-Sales and Marketing, Omron Healthcare India mentioned, “We are predominantly into home healthcare products. Our focus is to bring the quality medical devices from hospitals to individual homes. Omron is a market leader in BP monitor and nebulizer product categories for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, the two top burdens globally.”

Company’s take on ‘Make in India’ & regulations

The company as of now has no plans to ‘Make in India’ as it hasn’t reached the minimum order quantities required for it to start manufacturing. However, Mr Saini doesn’t rule out the possibility in the near future.

The Omron healthcare has been pursuing with the government to list the BP monitors and nebulizers as medical devices. “We were seeking the testing and accreditation agency for BP monitors and nebulizers besides their listing as medical devices before CDSCO and health ministry for testing of these devices. The good news is that the BP monitors and thermometers are soon going to be categorized as medical devices by the health ministry. I am sure the nebulizers might be too in the longer run,” Saini told BioVoice. He didn’t comment specifically on the price caps put on the certain medical devices by the government recently as the company doesn’t manufacture the items.

BP diagnosis: Omron’s challenges and opportunities

Traditionally, the instrument used to measure blood pressure is called a Sphygmomanometer which depicts the mercury based readings. The blood pressure cuff is snugly wrapped around the upper arm and the head of the stethoscope is placed over a large artery. Most of us must have seen it umpteen number of times during our visits to the doctor.

Yet most of the people aren’t aware that the mercury has been already banned in developed countries. Any product using mercury has become obsolete too. While India is yet to do it, the policymakers have intentions to do the same in next 6-7 years. Mr Rohit Saini points out to this fact and the underlying fact too, which is that there is a huge market out there for the digital BP monitors. He calls the continued use of old machines as a challenge and an opportunity too.

Another challenge is how the systolic and diastolic blood pressure measurements are being made in India. The systolic one has been conventionally read as 120 and diastolic as 80, written as “120 over 80” or “120/80 mmHg. However, this too has changed now globally due to widespread lifestyle disorders and changing body conditions. “The systolic has changed from ‘120’ to ‘139’ and diastolic has changed from ‘80’ to ‘95’. It has been certified by the British Hypertension Society and American Heart Foundation,” says Mr Saini. The company’s latest machines have the same settings as of global ones as compared to the local and Chinese. This sounds as a good opportunity for the company.

Home Blood Pressure Machine

Omron Academy and its purpose 

While Omron Healthcare was associated with the Indian Medical Association (IMA) until recently, the company is now aligned with Indian Society for Hypertension (ISH) to drive the educational awareness about the hypertension and benefits of home BP monitors.

The establishment of Omron Academy by the company is aimed at making the masses aware about the latest trends in the hypertension, its prevention, diagnosis and ways to do it. The company is planning to hold the conferences and workshops where ISH will bring key opinion leaders, professors, doctors and mentors from all over India to spread awareness about hypertension in India. Besides the various modules focused on the awareness and education, the Omron Academy will also disseminate the information on the correct and scientific ways of taking measurements. The company has its master trainers onboard for the purpose.

Explaining more about it, Mr Rohit Saini says, “Omron Academy won’t restrict it to a single annual gathering but multiple ones in different zones across India. In India, you can’t address a people of 100 gathering and say we have reached out.”

Pointing towards the challenges, Mr Saini mentions, “That is where the Omron academy comes into the picture. We are preparing the hypertension management coursework as refresher courses to make the latest updations that are happening globally in India too.” He adds, “Globally Omron Academy has been started three years back. It is bringing together the medical practitioners, general practitioners, professors, students who are into the hypertension management and diagnosis of patients. We have various modules of the courses to disseminate information on the latest trends including diastolic and systolic blood pressure measurements as per global surveys.”

“The second part is the education on home blood pressure management. In Asia Pacific region we have seen that the doctors don’t recommend the BP monitor to the patient as they have a fear of losing out. They also think the patient will start self medication which is not true. Rather if they teach the patients rightly, they will also get help from them in return about the weekly readings. They will be able to change the medication accordingly. That is why the home blood pressure monitoring is important in the entire scheme of things,” says Mr Saini further.

Competition, Ayushman Bharat and outlook

The company is facing competition from the Chinese products and the Indian products with Chinese manufactured parts. Mr Saini claims that they are not clinically accurate and thus the readings too are untrustworthy. He cities the Omron Healthcare’s study report to point out the unregulated business of the BP monitors and nebulizers in India. “As per our study, 51 brands for BP monitors and 102 brands for nebulizers in India. It shows that how fragmented is the market in retail. This is mostly due to unregulated business,” he informs.

Omron is also looking at partnering with the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY). “We are looking at having a association with Ayushman Bharat especially at Primary Health Centre (PHC) level where a lot of information on BP monitors can be disseminated as educational partners,” says Mr Saini, adding that the company is more than keen to tie up with the government’s flagship scheme.

Omron Healthcare has set its targets on the states with most hypertensive cases. Mr Saini explains the reasons: “Based on expert clinical readings and key data points, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Punjab are most hypertensive states while Mumbai as a city is most hypertensive. Experts suggest metabolic changes in people due to stress and carbohydrate consumption. The reasons are mostly lifestyle challenges. We are currently consolidating more in these regions while also building network across India”

The company is looking at doubling its revenue in next five years. It is betting big on the expansion of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases segments in India due to growing lifestyle disorders and air pollution respectively. With the product line where it enjoys the position of being a market leader set to be brought under regulations, it will eliminate the low quality competition. Also, if the accreditations get mandatory before usage, its primary competition in form of Chinese products would find less takers. Above all, the growing awareness among populations on the need for timely diagnosis also comes off as a favorable factor for the Omron Healthcare.