By Sandhya D’Mello
Khaleej Times, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Entrepreneur Sonia Satham says the “Panacea Medical and Wellness Centre” is a multi-specialty healthcare facility in the UAE that offers services in general medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and pathology.
The UAE has a number of organizations that empower and encourage women and the Dubai Business Women’s Council (DBWC) in particular provides a great platform for you to connect to other businesses, says Sonia Satham, co-founder, Panacea Medical and Wellness Centre, a multi-specialty clinic in Umm Hurair, Dubai, that focuses on preventive health alongside treatment.
Sonia recommends the DBWC platform for budding entrepreneurs as it has helped her scale the heights of success in the UAE.
She vouches for the support given by the UAE to women entrepreneurs. “The DBWC recently launched a mentoring program to celebrate the Year of Zayed; I feel this effort by the DBWC is very unique to the UAE. It helps you listen to success stories, get advice from peers and attend training workshops in areas of your business that you are not familiar with.”
The Panacea Medical and Wellness Centre is a seven-year-old multi-specialty healthcare facility with a focus on both the preventive and curative aspect of ailments. The centre offers services in general medicine, paediatrics, obstetrics and gynaecology, reproductive medicine and infertility, vaccinations and pathology.
The centre’s dental department caters to cosmetic and general dentistry, periodontics, implantology and orthodontics cases.
Sonia recalled how after spending a number of years in her previous job in a marketing and PR role, she felt she had stopped growing and wanted to learn about new trends in her field. “I took a sabbatical and went to the UK to study corporate communications at Manchester Business School. Other than my degree, I also gained a lot of new perspectives in that one year that I stayed away from home and family. I had always admired people who were entrepreneurs and ran their own businesses but never got the chance to do it myself.
“However, when I came back to Dubai, I had this chance. The thought of running a business of your own was more intriguing than getting another job,” said Sonia.
“I shared my enterprising thoughts with my husband who is a pediatrician. I was surprised to know that he too wanted to start his own practice. We envisaged our business should be something unique that helps people and thus thought of a holistic approach to create wellness and solve health problems. That’s why we named our organization ‘Panacea’, which means ‘a solution to all problems’.”
At the beginning of 2018, Sonia wanted to create more value for patients by reducing waiting time and being available on Fridays. So, she extended working hours from an eight-hour to a 12-hour shift and also decided to keep key departments open on Friday evenings.
“Skincare is in demand in the UAE and we will be opening a dermatology department before the end of this year. We want to implement more preventive health initiatives this year,” said Sonia.
On how she strikes a balance at home and work, Sonia said: “I just prioritize. If something is very important at home on a particular day, then that gets done first and if something is urgent at the office, then that’s the first thing I do. I love working off a to-do list to complete important tasks. I try and snatch some me-time once in a while and that energizes me.”
The journey of being an entrepreneur threw up some challenges. Sonia said: “It was my first assignment in healthcare; it was a new field for me, so I had to do a lot of research to make sure I did’t go wrong. I asked for advice from people in the field who were known to me. I asked a lot of questions to women at the Dubai Health Authority and staff at the Municipality and other departments and they gave me the information and rules that I followed strictly. I was always in a job and for the first time, I was on the other side of the table. I was trying to do everything myself and it wasn’t working out. Staff training and delegating helped me improve efficiency as did Microsoft Project!”
“Healthcare is an insurance-driven industry — getting affiliations for a brand new clinic was a challenge. We explained our philosophy, processes and work ethics, invited prospective insurance affiliates to visit our premises and meet our doctors but the initial response was discouraging as insurance companies are busy and responses were not quick or positive. Persistence, patience and showing them the value proposition helped us to sign on several big players in the first year. Once we had some insurance affiliates on board, it was easier to sign on more. Now, we accept all major health insurances,” she mentioned.
“To be competitive, we have made our patients our priority. Our tagline ‘Compassionate healing and more choice’ defines what we do, which is serving our patients with compassion. We also strive to give them more choice as we have more than one doctor in almost all specialties, so patients can choose who they want to consult.
“We continue to adhere to our philosophy of preventive health. Information about health risks and what can be done to prevent them is regularly provided to our patients via our newsletters, health awareness leaflets, CSR campaigns and preventive health seminars and displays,” concluded Sonia.