Read the Conversation
EF: If 2020 was the year of diagnostics and 2021 the year of vaccines, what do you think will be the key healthcare talking points for 2022?
AF: In 2022, we have had the opportunity to reconnect face-to-face with our clients, go back into the field, and offer clinical support in clinics and hospitals, which is our purpose. We participate in all of Colombia's important health events. We are closing the year by organizing educational sessions and workshops open to the general public in different cities across the country, allowing GE Healthcare to contribute to better health in Colombia. 2022 is a positive year for us, and I feel privileged that, as Country Manager, I started leading the team as we are getting back to normal. The airport in Bogota is fully operating for the last couple of months, a sure sign that we are back to normal. GE Healthcare in Colombia is growing sustainably, stronger than ever, increasing market share, and always ensuring the patient is at the centre and benefiting. It has been a year of reconnecting with patients and bringing them back to care and I feel blessed to have led the team as we did so.
EF: After ten years at GE, you were appointed Country Manager of Colombia last year; when appointed, what was the mission you set for yourself?
AF: Primarily to contribute through GE Healthcare to better health for the country. Focus on middle-sized cities that act as bridges between rural and urban areas, allowing us to offer more health access. This aligns with our purpose as a company, building a world where medical attention knows no boundaries. My mission is also to strengthen everything related to the company locally, working with a very motivated and committed team, particularly after two difficult years with a changed working model.
EF: GE spins off into the separate entity of GE Healthcare; what does this mean for the company and Colombia? What is the new identity and purpose of the spin-off?
AF: We are very happy about the spin-off. In November 2021, Larry Culp, our CEO, announced that the GE conglomerate would divide into three companies, GE Vernova, GE Aerospace, and GE Healthcare. We are enthusiastic about the change because we can build a strategy focused on the health industry, making our decision-making more agile, and flexible, and focus on R&D, which will translate into generating value for our customers, investors, and employees. GE Healthcare Colombia will be a company priority. Colombia, after Brazil and Mexico, has the highest population in Latin America, offering many opportunities to develop access to health in middle-sized cities for a vulnerable population. We will bring disruptive technological innovation to the country for Colombians, guaranteeing diagnostics, monitoring, and early, precise, and safe treatments. We will continue to contribute to the education of the sector's present and future professionals and focus on clinical and medical health.
EF: Could you elaborate on your current footprint and portfolio in Colombia and how you expect it to evolve over the coming years with the spin-off?
AF: In Colombia, we have worked on designing customized solutions to satisfy our client's needs through teamwork, digital solutions, services, and finding ways for clinics and hospitals to access our solutions. We also have the added advantage that we are pushing forward Colombia's portfolio related to artificial intelligence. GE Healthcare Colombia promotes educational initiatives through events where we demonstrate the use of new technologies, such as computed tomography and AI. During Pink October, the month of breast cancer, we had an initiative directed to breast pathology specialists to create awareness in early cancer detection, with artificial intelligence, diagnosis, and breast interventionism as the main theme. Our portfolio in Colombia offers all these options, solutions, and financial initiatives.
EF: How do you see the adoption by physicians of new technologies in Colombia? Are they willing to learn and adopt AI?
AF: Colombia's strong appetite for education and innovation aligns perfectly with our strategy. There has been a huge interest from physicians in learning about new technologies. We have key opinion leaders who are experts in AI -the base of all our technology and processes- and we have seen a lot of receptiveness and interest in the subject. We were surprised at the interest and participation in our events, with more than a hundred people in each event in various cities across the country. In Colombia, we now have groundbreaking equipment, the AIR™ Recon DL which is very innovative and has had a world impact. There has been great interest in learning how to use it and other technologies. These new technologies reduce the exam periods, increase safety and productivity and create a better experience for the user, something we always consider.
EF: Many multinationals choose Colombia as a Latin American healthcare hub. What makes Colombia so attractive for healthcare companies to invest in and operate?
AF: Colombia is a developing country that offers multiple opportunities. The opportunities are not only in diagnostic images and medical equipment but also in the renewal of hospital infrastructure. There are opportunities to create better health in terms of access, where there is still much to be done, particularly in rural and remote areas. We must continue contributing to education and bringing in expertise and knowledge transfer. Multinationals are in an ideal position to take advantage of the opportunities, GE Healthcare particularly so, with a hundred years of experience and innovation. We are also working on training professionals for future generations; Colombia offers great opportunities to work in many areas.
EF: Could you elaborate on how GE forms partnerships with different stakeholders in the sector and what can be achieved through increased collaboration?
AF: We work with all the health system key stakeholders through the various initiatives we develop, but regardless of area or stakeholder, our final objective is always the patient. Cancer is growing worldwide, and we are an ally in healthcare for clinics, hospitals, health professionals, and patients. Our commitment is to collaborate to improve productivity results and medical assistance. Having that goal in mind creates synergies for us to contribute to healthcare in early diagnosis, precise treatments, or impacting the cancer rate at a global level. Our hundred-year-long experience allows us to bring the best knowledge and technology. We have more than ten thousand equipment units operating across the country. In alliance with our distributors in Colombia for certain product lines, we contribute to the development of the health sector and collaborate, through presence and participation, in all the main health events. We participated this year in MediTech, and the National Health Fair organized by the Clinic and Hospital Association. We contributed to educational talks and premium technology emphasizing computed tomography (specifically the Revolution CT) and simulated patient care from first aid to critical care. Collaboration is key in the health sector, and we are committed to doing so in Colombia.
EF: Could you give an example of how your technology is having a positive impact in Colombia?
AF: We turn to AI, digitalization, and data analysis more and more to improve optimization, efficiencies, and productivity. The best examples I can offer are proven cases in Latin America where we have gained up to 10% in productivity, and not necessarily through investment in AI and digitalization for the clinic or the hospital. We have made a difference with the AIR™ Recon DL for magnetic resonances, which has been a boom for Colombia and does not need investment in new technology or infrastructure expansion. We increased productivity using the AIR™ Recon DL, as it reduces the scan time and significantly improves the image quality, thus increasing the speed and reliability of the diagnosis, leaving the radiologist time to dedicate to other decisions. With the exam being shorter, productivity increases, which means gains for the clinic or hospital. Not to mention the improved experience for the patient, having a faster exam, and because the exam is quicker, delays and waiting times are reduced, making the whole process more agile. It is one of our great innovations in Colombia with excellent results.
EF: What would be your advice to young women interested in pursuing a career in leadership in the health sector?
AF: Women have more and more space in society to fill leadership roles which is very satisfying. Even so, there are many challenges. Women in leadership roles are obligated to the upcoming generations of women. We must dedicate time to listening to future professionals and motivate them to take risks even if they don't feel prepared for the next step. Experience and day-to-day will generate the confidence and development necessary to become a leader. A purpose is fundamental, a source of motivation to fight and challenge oneself to improve daily. Success always comes hand in hand with dedication, discipline, and sometimes sacrifice, but it always comes with effort. Health is very important. I am an industrial engineer and have always worked in healthcare, and I believe that to work in this sector, a focus on people is fundamental. The need, desire, and capacity to serve people and to improve their lives. A spirit of service is necessary, and the knowledge that success is shared, as personal growth depends on group or team growth. Self-improvement and education must also be pursued, and a balance must be found between body and soul, especially if we are multi-taskers.
EF: After a busy year with many achievements, what will you celebrate at the end of this year?
AF: I am delighted to say we finally have reasons to celebrate. We are starting a new journey in 2023, and after working at GE for ten years, I stand in front of our clients, clinics and hospitals with joy and pride. There is much to celebrate and be grateful for:
- We have been able to reconnect face-to-face with our clients and work together over this year.
- We have contributed to improving healthcare in Colombia through digital, events and teamwork.
- Our energetic organization allows us today to become a spin-off.
- A promising future with independence: decision-making flexibility and agility to invest in new technologies for our portfolio.
EF: Is there any final message you would like to share?
AF: Health is the priority and a commitment for those in the industry. GE Healthcare is positioned to innovate and help many people, and we have much to do. Working in collaboration is important to help the patients who need us. We focus on people, and if we add all our technological developments, we can make a difference, save lives, and improve people's quality of life. I would like to close by sharing our purpose: we work on creating a world where health care has no limits.