Integra Health Centre founders Dr. Sapna Sriram and Aliza Raithatha talked to CanIndia News about their business model as well as the prize money and advertising support Telus is providing their Toronto clinics. Excerpts of the interview are below.
How is Integra different from other health centre?
Co-founders Sriram and Raithatha said Integra which was established its first clinic in the Exchange Tower in 2015 provides a “one-stop-shop comprehensive health solution” for patients. It goes beyond providing just family doctor services to include medical, rehabilitation and wellness supports “in a collaborative setting and under one roof”. Integra grew to open a second clinic at Commerce Court in 2018 and now has around 60 people on its staff.
What inspired this particular business model?
The co-founders say it was born out of the community’s need for “healthcare partners in their health journey”.
“We looked at all of the services people need including for the body, physical and mental health holistically as well as medically,” explained Dr. Sriram. “As a physician it was frustrating to be faced with situations where you do not have control and can’t help patients navigate health situations which may require all of these supports. So, we wanted to bring on as many services but also operate them in a very collegial or collaborative way. From our build out to our technology even our culture, it is very much a team-based approach to providing care and support to our patients.”
“Our patients don’t have to advocate for themselves which is unfortunately still a reality for so many people,” she added. “It’s also advantageous to physicians who can now have updated information about patient cases.”
How did the pandemic affect Integra’s services?
Sriram and Raithatha recalled making the change from the brick and mortar business to telemedicine over one weekend.
The pivot to virtual services did have another positive outcome as Integra expanded to offer corporate health services including providing employers with advice on a safe return to work.
“We extrapolated what we are good at in a clinic and expanded beyond patient care to a lot of different industries and sectors that needed the help and support,” said Raithatha. “
As a result, the business has grown beyond what they thought a year and a half ago. The pivot to virtual services has “enabled Integra to go beyond swerving the financial district to serving all of Ontario right now”.
The co-founders are also open to “figuring out things as we go along and pivoting in a lot of different ways”.
What made you apply to the #TelusStandWithOwners program?
“I follow health business on a lot of different social platforms,” said Dr. Sriram. “I saw something on LinkedIn, thought it was interesting and a great initiative and I just applied. I honestly didn’t think we had a chance, so I was shocked when I got the call. It was truly a surreal moment when they called me because I never win anything.”
You mentioned that Telus has provided you with a lot of support. Can you explain?
“They invited me to speak at a health awareness webinar that they hosted for around 400 to 500 small business owners where I shared by story as a chiropractor,” said Dr. Sriram. “They’ve also been really supportive of our marketing plans.”
“They sent us marketing plan which includes so many digital marketing avenues that we wouldn’t have the budget for as well as the expertise to get our footprint on so many digital platforms,” she explained further.
“They’ve also supported us with a health plan for our employees which includes mental health support as well as some other health benefits which has been really great.
“They also supported us with a business plan and technology which for a company that’s trying to market allows us to do more with our team.”
How do you plan to use the $10,000 prize money?
Integra’s founders say that the advertising and the marketing will be the really big push. “We wouldn’t really have the means to do all the things they (Telus) have put into the plan that they have developed for us without it.”
Any advice to others applying for funding?
“With reference to our story, never sell yourself short,” says Dr. Sapna Sriram. “You always see things pop up on social media and various platforms about contests and grants, we applied to everything. Your business is just as worthy as any other business.” She also advised business owners “to be willing to be vulnerable and share their story and ask for help”.
In its second year supporting small businesses through its national #StandWithOwners initiative, Telus doubled its commitment by investing $1 million to promote vitally important organizations in 2021.
Small businesses were invited to participate in #StandWithOwners initiative at the end of June where they could apply to receive $10,000 and personalized local advertising campaigns to help fuel awareness and drive revenue for their business. Winners were chosen weekly.
Founded in Toronto, Ontario in 2015, Integra Health Centre was built on the idea of bringing a truly integrated model of healthcare into the downtown core. Offering such services as Walk-in, Family Medicine, Allergy & Immunology, Physiotherapy, Pelvic Health, Shockwave, Chiropractic, Acupuncture, Athletic Therapy, Registered Massage Therapy, Osteopathy, Naturopathy, Dietetic and Nutritional counselling, Psychotherapy and more.
Integra Health hosts a patient-centered model of care and is also a recognized leader in its educational services highlighting collaborative medicine with various topics through; workshops, webinars, retreats, seminars etc. Integra Health also has a vast portfolio of corporate services including training, executive health services, consulting services and much more.