Empowering Patient Education: A Conversation with Naresh Ahuja, CEO of SMS Scientific Products Pvt Ltd

Empowering Patient Education: A Conversation with Naresh Ahuja, CEO of SMS Scientific Products Pvt Ltd

Innovative patient education tools by SMS Scientific Products Pvt Ltd bridge communication gaps between doctors and patients effectively.

For the past three decades, SMS Scientific Products Pvt Ltd has been dedicated to designing and developing unique products tailored to the needs of medical professionals. In 2018, brothers Naresh and Haresh Ahuja, founders of SMS, accompanied their father to a prostate consultation at Leelavati Hospital, Mumbai's premier healthcare facility. Despite being a leading hospital, the doctor faced challenges explaining the necessary procedure, resorting to rough sketches on paper slips. This left the family feeling more confused when leaving the consultation room than when they had entered.

Naresh Ahuja, Founder & CEO of SMS Scientific Products Pvt Ltd

This experience sparked a realisation of a significant communication gap between doctors and patients. Motivated to address this issue, the brothers decided to devise solutions. Recognizing the lack of available material and convenient tools for effective and simple communication across diverse patient demographics, they conceptualized and gave birth to Science for Doctors (SFD). This innovative concept marked a revolutionary step in the realm of Patient Education (PE).

In an exclusive interview with The Hans India, Naresh Ahuja, the Founder & CEO of SMS Scientific Products Pvt Ltd, discusses their journey, the uniqueness of their products, the challenges they encounter, and their vision for the future of patient education.

Would you consider yourself a pioneer in the field of patient education?

Patient education has existed in India for a long time, but it was never prioritized as such and primarily relied on paper-based products such as leaflets, tear-off pads, charts in patient waiting areas, and some anatomical models. They were outdated and did not present information in an interesting manner.

We were the first to introduce innovative desktops with patient-friendly and easy-to-understand content. This product range, called "Science for Doctors" (SFD), is unique as it facilitates interactive and engaging conversations between doctors and patients. The products feature a unique write-and-wipe surface and can be used hundreds of times with a whiteboard marker, thus saving paper and offering convenience.

The design of the product makes it accessible for the doctor at arm's length on their desk. Our product, the 3D therapy frame, combines anatomical models with a chart in one product, making it a unique asset for a doctor. Our other new products, the flip wipe with an anatomical model on a stand, slides with patient leaflets in a tray, and write-and-wipe slides with a stationery holder and utility container attached, have become indispensable tools for the doctor as they help improve consultation quality.

Our products have introduced a new freshness and interest in this important area that was previously neglected. In a way, you can consider us pioneers in these new-age patient education tools.

What makes you stand out in this field?

We put a lot of thought into our products. Firstly, we are very meticulous in developing the medical content, which is evidenced and researched with accurate references. This is combined with the selection of correct images depicting diseases and anatomy, presented in easy-to-read language. If needed, we also translate this content into Indian regional languages to make it more effective. After this, we take care to design the slides in an attractive, patient-centric way, with a focus on images.

This content is then adapted into products from our range, offering many options depending on the number of slides required. All of this, along with our deep understanding of the requirements of the medical fraternity and patients' apprehensions and questions, as well as our system of developing unique bespoke products, along with our in-house design, development, and manufacturing capabilities, ensures high-quality finished products and fast delivery timelines for large quantities, making us stand out!

Is there a gap in this field in India at present, in your opinion?

Yes, there is certainly a significant gap as the focus has traditionally been on medical information for doctors and their training, with patient education often not being a priority. However, there is a rapid shift happening, and stakeholders such as pharmaceutical companies and doctors have begun to realize the immense value of patient education in disease management. As a result, there is a lot of work that needs to be done in this area.

Could you give some examples of your hero products?

All our products are designed with great thought and have multiple features. Among them, the following products are very well appreciated:

3D Therapy Frame: This product combines anatomical models with disease representation mounted on a board. It includes printed information explaining critical aspects, all within a sturdy frame designed on a stand for desktop use.

Flip Wipes with 3D Anatomical Model: These are easily removable boards made of ABS material. They feature write-and-wipe slides designed for easy flipping, with an anatomical model placed on the side on a stand. This setup allows for easy visual presentation of disease content on the flip slides.

3 Slides Write & Wipe with a Stationery Holder: This product enables large content to be presented on the desk. It features easy-to-remove write-and-wipe slides for interactive sessions, along with an attached stationery holder that holds all the doctor's writing instruments in one stand.

What is your research process like when developing these products?

Before proceeding, the medical team first understands the requirements by reviewing various documents, papers, reports, and other materials. This process helps them gather and validate medical information effectively. Then, it is designed and manufactured in a streamlined process.

What are some of the challenges you face on a daily basis with respect to this product line?

Daily challenges include ensuring that the product is perfect in all aspects, such as design, content, and finish so that it addresses core issues affecting patients. Additionally, meeting client delivery timelines is crucial. Since our products are our intellectual property (IP) with registered product designs and copyrighted content designs, preventing copying and imitation is a priority.

Another challenge we face is reaching out to small and medium-sized pharma companies, as well as medical professionals, directly so that they can procure our products for their clinics. This is essential to tap into the large opportunity presented by the market.

What are your future plans with regard to introducing new products/models?

At SMS, there is continuous product development underway. We are currently working on several new products that will be introduced by the middle of 2024. Additionally, we are focusing on augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) development in a unique digital hybrid approach. This approach aims to make these technologies accessible and user-friendly for individuals of all ages, including those who may not be very tech-savvy.

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