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EF: What was the mission you were given when appointed in 2019 and how did that change with the pandemic?
AM: I’ve been in Biotronik most of my professional career. When I was appointed as Country Manager for Brazil my main task was combining the technical and commercial areas, seeking to incorporate more technologies. Of course, this task was very different pre and post-pandemic. As a result of the pandemic, hospitals are interested in acquiring more of these products, which is why enhancing the technology aspect of our sales was the best strategy to navigate the scenario. One of the biggest challenges we had to face, was the fact that most of our products are focused on elective surgeries, and they represent more than 50% of our total sales. When emergency surgeries were prioritized because of the pandemic, our company was obviously impacted. The discussion at the time was on how we could manage that kind of situation, which was very new to us. Now that it’s been two years, the reward of overcoming this challenge will be even greater.
EF: 2020 was the year of diagnosis and prevention. 2021 was the year of vaccines and raising awareness on the importance of pre-covid assessments. What do you think 2022 will be about?
AM: 2022 has been a year of recovery. In terms of sales, we just recovered to the pre-pandemic numbers in the last quarter of 2021.
EF: As someone that has navigated the pandemic, what would you say are the biggest lessons learned from a leadership and a management perspective in these last years?
AM: I believe the main lesson we learned is the fact that we need to orient our company and our people to cope with situations without any previous experience. During the pandemic, this was the most difficult thing to achieve. Normally when faced with a crisis, you talk to previous executives to see how we have managed in the past, but with the pandemic everything was new. Therefore, we needed to make decisions based on feelings and our judgment on what was best for our company and our patients. In the end, the main thing for us is to continue delivering service to patients and hospitals.
EF: What are your expectations on the biomonitor and is there anything in the pipeline that you are specifically excited about?
AM: Biomonitor is a very new product for which we received approval for reimbursement. There are great expectations because the diagnosis sector is very new to us, we are more used to therapy-delivering devices. However, this is exactly what we are excited about, the possibility of having new and reliable diagnostic data, which will allow us to increase access to even more patients. There are many stroke patients in Brazil that end up without specific diagnostics, for instance, those with silent atrial fibrillation. With Biomonitor, we have a new portfolio that allows us to identify and treat these conditions, preventing a considerable number of strokes. It is also a very new segment for Brazil. We try to develop the market together with doctors, seeking to provide more of our training and education, not only for the physicians but also for patients. I strongly believe it is very important to use the right people to develop this specific market, so it’s a new challenge, but it’s common in our area to face this kind of task when you launch new technologies.
EF: Regarding digitalization, what is your perspective on the future both in terms of the company and in terms of business models and treatment of patients?
AM: This is the future; it is difficult to talk about the future and not talk about digitization, which is why Biotronik is of course involved in this new market. As an example, we have products that allow doctors to be closer to their patient’s treatment. These devices connect to the patient’s pacemaker (or other devices like implantable defibrillators and loopers), allowing our remote monitoring centre in Germany to receive, store, and even provide some analyses of the information provided. Then, the central send a report with the complete data directly to the doctor’s e-mail, in a process that takes about 5 minutes. And this is repeated daily, which is an exclusive feature we have by the way.
EF: As someone who has worked in both technology and commercial areas, how receptive do you find Brazilian physicians and patients are to adopting this kind of new technology?
AM: After the pandemic, these kinds of technologies have been more easily accepted and adopted because doctors are keener to avoid patients coming to hospitals if the diagnosis can be done remotely. For example, this device can perform nearly the same work that you would do at a doctor’s office appointment, but from your home. Public hospitals that are trying to avoid mass gatherings are adopting these technologies quicker than before when there were still doubts, and everyone was used to having in-site, in-office
EF: In Brazil’s therapeutic and cardiovascular area, which is the growth that you have seen in terms of interventions, procedures, and the kind of diagnosis you are looking into?
AM: Cardiovascular disease remains the number one cause of death in our country, and whilst coverage requires attention, we have a great potential to grow in this market, but the challenge comes in terms of reimbursement and access.
EF: Given that Biotronik is celebrating 40 years in Brazil, what was the speech you gave to your team?
AM: We have been working directly in Brazil for 40 years. The message is clear; we are committed to the Brazilian market, and we have done the necessary changes in order to sustain the company and our business. Currently, we have around one million active pacemaker patients, we’ve been leading the industry for more than 20 years and I believe we still will be in the years to come.