How Mainak Santra
used Vev to
reshape his speech
therapy practice

Mainak Santra is not just another speech therapist; he's a pioneer leveraging technology to enhance the patient experience in his practice in Calcutta. With 13 years of expertise, he stands as a beacon of hope for children with language disorders, ensuring they can communicate and express themselves.

Choosing speech therapy

Mainak has an emotionally charged history that indirectly led him to his chosen profession. Recounting the tragic tale of his maternal uncle, who suffered from cerebral palsy after a traumatic fall, Santra said, “So I have seen what happens, how people get devastated when this kind of thing happens.”

However, this family history wasn't the primary driver for Mainak's career choice. After failing a medical exam, he recalled how his father urged him to continue his education without delay, introducing him to the field of speech therapy. After some initial hesitation and considering another path, Mainak heeded his father’s advice, choosing to dive deep into the field.

A pivotal moment in Mainak's journey was an annual conference for speech and hearing, where he encountered other successful professionals in the field. “Once I went to that conference, my insight changed,” he reminisced, “That matters, the way you work, things get lined up for you.”

The start of an entrepreneurial journey

Mainak's early days in the profession weren't without challenges. However, a mentor played a pivotal role in directing his path. Mainak reflected on the guidance he received, emphasizing the importance of making people aware of speech therapy and combating misconceptions.

The humble beginnings of his clinic, which he started with a group in their early 20s, saw them pooling resources from home visits to fund the venture. He reminisced, “We used to gather small amounts of money. One we used to keep for ourselves and a significant proportion used to submit in our common fund with which we bought the equipment and the rent that was required to start a clinic.” Today he is only into clinical practice stepping back from managerial roles.

Every day is like proving yourself. If you can't provide improvement over sessions, then people won't return.

Building a reputation in a challenging landscape

Mainak highlighted the unique challenges of practicing in India, where patients typically bear therapy costs, unlike Western countries where insurance often provides coverage. “Every day is like proving yourself,” Mainak shared. “If you can't provide improvement over sessions, then people won't return.”

His commitment saw him spending “year after year of relentless practice” honing his skills and upgrading his professional knowledge. It took him half a decade to firmly establish his practice. His approach is decidedly unique; rather than relying on widespread social media marketing, Mainak focuses on self-improvement. “I spend a good amount of time with books, sharpening the skills by working with children and engaging with fellow professionals,” he shares.

Mainak stressed the power of organic growth through referrals, emphasizing that much of his clientele comes through word-of-mouth and references from associated professionals, including occupational therapists, physiotherapists, and special educators. Citing Canadian author Robin Sharma, he highlights the importance of delivering value: “I have worked on giving more than what they ask for, which has gradually built strong relationships with my clients.”

The challenges of appointment management

During our conversation, Mainak emphasized the importance of appointment scheduling in the clinical space. With a tight schedule, seeing 15-16 children daily, he remarked “One single appointment would need about two to three calls to finalize it.” This wasn't just time-consuming; it was also taking a toll on his team's efficiency.

His pursuit for a better way led him to the Vev online booking platform. After extensive research for nearly a month, Mainak recalls the moment he stumbled upon Vev, saying, “It was fortune when I hit upon the website of Vev.” What he found was not just a tool but a platform tailored for his needs. “I actually found something for speech therapy. It had everything I was looking for.”

With Vev, Mainak's clinics went digital. Appointments became more transparent, giving parents the autonomy to select suitable time slots, thus saving a significant amount of effort and increasing productivity. As Mainak recalls, “Most of the parents were comparatively happy to see the entire time slots which are available.”

It was fortune when I hit upon the website of Vev. I actually found something for speech therapy. It had everything I was looking for.

The Vev solution

According to Mainak, one of the significant advantages of Vev is its user-friendliness. He particularly appreciated the quick setup time, “you would hardly take more than five minutes to create your own profile and start your page.” He also emphasized how easy it was for his reception team to adapt, “If everybody is getting hold of it very easily, it means the interface is really very simple,” Mainak observed.

But the game-changer for him was the opportunity to add “Exceptions”. This feature, he explained, was crucial in ensuring his specific needs for running his business were met without confusion or miscommunication.

Vev was very responsive every time and to any simple help we asked for.

The importance of Vev’s support

However, Mainak's appreciation for Vev goes beyond its intuitive design. Drawing from his vast experience, he notes, “Almost 30% to 40% of clients drop out simply because of lack of communication between the user and the business.” Yet, with Vev, he found a partner that values communication as much as he does.

He admits his initial skepticism, especially given the geographical distance between Vev's base in Amsterdam and his practice in India, ”I was skeptical in the beginning. Will I get proper support or not?” But Vev exceeded his expectations. He admiringly shared, “Vev was very responsive every time and any simple help we asked for, you never showed any kind of disgrace or anger.”

4 tips for aspiring therapists

For those entering the field, Mainak outlined his key challenges and advice:

  1. Time management: “You have around 10 to 12 constructive hours daily. Every second counts,” says Mainak, stressing the importance of efficient practice, especially given the numerous appointments he manages daily.
  2. Preparation: Before meeting any child, he advises having a clear plan. “You should have your file for that child detailing their speech and language development stage and your course of action.”
  3. Reflection and learning: Mainak champions daily introspection. Taking a moment each night to jot down lessons learned helps in avoiding future mistakes. “Noting it down gives you sensory input, and helps you not to repeat that mistake in the future,” he asserts.
  4. Respect and focus: He strongly urges new therapists to respect their clients and colleagues. Offering undistracted attention is paramount. “Irrespective of what is happening at your home, you should keep everything at bay. Distractions, like frequent phone calls, can greatly impact therapy quality,” Mainak cautions.

A vision for the future: machines and AI

Speaking about the future, Mainak addressed the global shortage of professionals in his field. “Presently, all over the world, there's a mismatch between the number of professionals and users ready to take help,” he observed.

He envisions a future where AI aids the treatment protocol. His ambition is to bridge the gap between professionals and those seeking help, especially in remote areas. “With the advent of the machines, if given a chance, we can build up some kind of a technology which can help people reach those remotest parts,” he fervently hoped, emphasizing the crucial need for specialized support in the digital age.

Concluding thoughts

Mainak Santra's story is not just about a speech therapist's dedication to his profession but also about the synergy between technology and healthcare. It highlights the importance of tools like Vev that seamlessly integrate into practices, ensuring better care and communication. As he continues to shape young lives, he also stands as a testament to the profound impact of embracing the right technological partnerships.

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