Interpreter of Maladies 2016-12-29, The Kathmandu Post

Samyak Diagnostic Private Limited, which Keyoor Gautam initiated two years ago, is pursuing the golden rule of medical service: Taking extra care of and providing extra attention to the sick. 

Keyoor Gautam, a medical doctor, knows exactly how people feel and react when they fall sick. 

They drop with fatigue and low morale, even get cranky, and pay attention to small signs of early recovery. “That’s why it is important to listen to them carefully, find out what exactly is happening inside their bodies and provide them with extra care,” says Gautam.

Samyak Diagnostic Private Limited, which Gautam opened two years ago, is doing exactly this: Taking extra care of and providing extra attention to the sick. 

Located at Jawalakhel, Lalitpur, Samyak is the first state-of-the-art specialty pathology laboratory in the country. It offers services second to none in the world and is being constantly upgraded to conduct medical tests that have never been carried out in the country before.

Diseases have a formidable nature and a destructive appetite. Yet human traits are such that they always strive to overcome barriers. No wonder, different vaccines are now available to prevent public health epidemics; survival rate from diseases such as cancer is growing; and even genetic-based diseases can now be eliminated by altering the human genome. The medical world is basking in the glory of these accomplishments, thanks to inquisitive minds that never cease to ask questions and go the extra mile to find answers. These efforts have not only prolonged average lifespan of humans worldwide, but have also enabled people to live healthier lives. All these became possible because of research; and laboratories have always played an integral role in the quest to ward off threats posed by diseases. 

This is the reason why laboratories need advancement, as around 70 percent of diseases are diagnosed through laboratory tests, says Gautam, chairman of Samyak Diagnostic. “Such tests need to generate accurate results so that the person suffering from the disease can undergo specific treatment.” 

Samyak conducts routine as well as highly specialised tests on diabetes, kidney and uric acid ailments, among others, using top-of-the-line equipment. The lab also pioneered the introduction of Immunofluorescence test in the country, which is carried out to identify specific antigens and antibodies. Samyak has also been conducting tests that previously were not possible in Nepal. This has, to some extent, ended the country’s reliance on foreign pathology labs.

“Sending samples abroad is a costly affair and time consuming. Also, the chances of miscommunication between patients, the pathologist and the doctors recommending the test remain high,” says Gautam. “We have eliminated all the constraints by establishing a top-notch laboratory.”

One of the tests on which the lab specialises is blood lead level in children. Lead is a toxic material which could significantly deter mental growth in children and has other detrimental effects on their health. A large number of children in the country are exposed to lead through various means such as toys, paints and lead content in the air. 

“Since children are the future of the country, we at Samyak are very serious about it,” says Gautam, adding, “If the child comes from a weak financial background, we conduct the test for free and provide free treatment at a hospital in Lucknow, India.”   

Born and brought up in Kathmandu, Gautam completed his schooling from St Xavier’s Jawalakhel and received his MBBS degree from Saint Louis University in the Philippines. He then joined Kasturba Medical College in Mangalore, India, from where he received an MD in pathology. He has also taken six-month training on oncopathology from Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, India. 

A person who has lately started growing passion for cardio kick-boxing, Gautam had always wanted to offer cutting edge pathology testing services in Nepal. With this objective in mind, he had helped set up Department of Pathology at Grande International Hospital in November 2012.

There he designed the hospital’s laboratory, which, according to Gautam, was world-class at the time of its launch. “But you cannot rest on your laurels once the lab is set up. You have to continuously upgrade and evolve,” says Gautam. 

And as progress began to stall the hospital and he felt this could affect his personal growth, Gautam decided to move on. “I then thought of starting something of my own so that innovations can take place and world class testing facilities could be provided,” he says.

For anyone opening a new business venture, it is essential to consider economic viability. The person should identify the market, price the products, project revenue cycles, calculate the cost and figure out the profit. In other words, assurance for fair return on investment must be established before allowing a business venture to go online. This is the broad algorithm that many follow before starting an enterprise. Gautam, however, did not delve into these details.

“Rather than doing a cost-benefit analysis, we assessed the requirement of the field,” he says. “Another area where I have focused on is affordability and made sure people from all walks of life can gain access to world-class services at reasonable prices.”

Till date, Samyak Diagnostic has offered services to over 150,000 patients from its two outlets in Lalitpur and Bhaktapur and is planning to open a new outlet at Baneshwor soon. Currently, it provides employment to over 50 people and Gautam plans to double the figure within five years. 

Samyak has also become the first pathology laboratory in Nepal to receive ISO 15189:2012 certification from AERSSC, the affiliate member of International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC), Geneva, Switzerland. ILAC is the accreditation body which has the authority to grant certification to laboratories after carrying out thorough investigation.  

“I established Samyak so that Nepalis do not have to compromise on quality of pathology testing services,” says Gautam. “I needed a place where I could take extra care of patients and provide extra attention to the sick.” 

After all, it is the little things  that matter when you are sick, he reiterates.