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EF: The past few years have been a time of great transition. 2019 saw the transition of a new presidency. 2020 started with turbulence with Covid-19. What advice would you give to other GMs on managing in a time of transition?
AP: We are experiencing an unprecedented period that differs from our expectations. In 2019, we knew it was a transition year because it was the first year of the new government and the new presidency. However, with covid-19 this year, the transition is of a different, unexpected variety. To deal with this unprecedented event, we are sharing our experiences and learnings with other regions inside Latin America as well as regions outside like Asia and Europe. What we are facing today is what China experienced a pair of months ago. The main piece of advice is to learn from colleagues in other parts of the world that have already dealt with this situation. It’s also necessary to be calm and patient even though it might be difficult to strategize ahead. There is still quite a bit of uncertainty in the region since there’s a large spread of projections. Therefore, it is critical to collaborate closely with your colleagues, with different industry leaders, and with the government to align in supporting the country and its people. Keeping the population healthy and safe and contain the spread of the new Coronavirus must be placed as the main priorities above all.
EF: What would you say is your decision-making balance with regards to tactics, strategies, and adaptations in the current situation?
AP: Our divisions are currently more concentrated on the tactical side. While strategy is crucial for the future of the business, it’s harder to project in these times of uncertainty. We have an adaptive mindset as well since there are many changes happening in and out of the industry. If I were to break down the distribution in terms of percentage, I’d say that we are 50% tactic-focused, 30% adaptation-focused, and 20% strategy-focused.
EF: Diagnostics has been a major healthcare focus in, especially these days. How will diagnostics play into your strategy and how do you see it impacting the future of healthcare?
AP: Diagnostics play a crucial role in healthcare, however, it doesn't work alone. Especially nowadays, where healthcare systems are facing unprecedented challenges. Our focus now is to help healthcare professionals to deliver high-value care to patients in the whole disease chain: diagnosis, prognosis, therapy and follow up. For this purpose, we have a huge portfolio of imaging solutions, like CT and MRI scanners, X-ray systems and ultrasounds. On the other hand, we are working hard to approve clinical tests for Covid-19 that will help front-line professionals. I believe that after this pandemic, the importance of a timely diagnosis will be especially highlighted. Definitely, the cultural mindset will change regarding early diagnoses for the benefit of the patients.
EF: Could you elaborate on Siemens Healthineers long term vision? Has that been influenced at all by recent events?
AP: The focus of our long term vision is to continue to grow in existing markets, enter adjacent fields and conquer new markets. As an example, last year we completed the acquisition of Corindus, one of the leading companies that offer a robotic treatment platform for major vascular therapeutic markets. It allowed us to achieve additional growth and tap adjacent markets. In regards to the pandemic, there is currently no intention to shift our long term strategic goals. It is true that we are already seeing some important changes in the economic scenario, however healthcare must go on. The government needs to start investing at a higher level, while the private sector must keep investing. And we want to be part of this by being closer to the main institutions, creating new protocols and business models that can benefit our population with a better and more accessible healthcare.
EF: The economic impact of covid-19 is immediately apparent today. How would you maintain the momentum of interest and investment in healthcare after the pandemic has passed?
AP: Maintaining investor interest is a priority right now especially for the current global situation. The vast majority of global companies have been affected by the economic impact of the pandemic. The key to maintaining investor interest is to show that we are taking decisive actions and that we are resilient to this kind of crises, as has already been demonstrated for Siemens Healthineers in Europe and Asia. While we are certainly taking this crisis seriously, both in terms of health and economic impact, it should be noted that we’ve been taking actions that will probably position us in a better place post-pandemic. This is only possible through a combination of resilience and decisive decision making.
EF: You mentioned that you were collaborating with Siemens Europe and Asia to handle the corona pandemic. What learnings and experiences did you take away from that collaboration?
AP: The main learnings from Asia is that they made difficult decisions at a very early stage. That was crucial. Those decisions would impact the general economy, but they had the courage and conviction to prioritize health first. I would like to see the same mindset adopted in Mexico. We are evolving along with other countries in adapting our solutions to improve timely diagnosis, we are releasing a Covid-19 test in Europe that we want to bring in a short time to our region. We are also applying AI to CT images for detection of Covid-19 symptoms and to help with follow-up and treatment planning. Our digital health solutions are also supporting healthcare providers in protecting healthcare front-line workers and increasing healthcare delivery capacity. For example, our digital services enable medical personnel to operate systems regardless of their location and thus with a potentially lower risk of infection. These solutions and many others are being tested around the world and I hope to bring them soon for Mexico.
EF: What is your impression from meeting with private hospital groups and key healthcare collaborators?
AP: My impression is that the private sector is fully aware of the extent and seriousness of the situation. The industry as a whole has been concerned with making sure that the right decisions are made at the right time. There are decisions that must be made by the government and the private sector is giving as much support as they can. Definitely, this battle cannot be won by a single soldier, so we will need all of them, with all the resources and expertise they have, to emerge as winners.