Read the Conversation
EF: Looking back over the past couple of years, 2020 was the year of diagnostics, 2021 the year of vaccines, what do you think 2022 will be the year of?
CM: I would say it's still the year of diagnostics. It is also the year of treatments, additional medical advancements, and immunization in COVID, but also in other areas (unless additional severe variants come up). 2022 might end up being the end of the pandemic as a pandemic per se due to the behaviour of the population which will increase the immunization trends, even if we have additional variants and peaks coming on top.
Today, it's amazing how you see people talking about polymerase chain reaction (PCR) without having a clue of what it is, only knowing it's the most sensitive test and currently being aware of what is out there in terms of options for testing. So hopefully, in conclusion, 2022 is going to be the year of treatments and the end of the pandemic. However, if not, diagnostics will still play a very important role in this scenario.
EF: In what ways do you think the diagnostics were hidden heroes during the pandemic?
CM: We were probably not aware at the very beginning, but it was just amazing. In the first phase, diagnostics was definitely a silent hero, but then a few months later, people realized its importance and started asking for home test kit tools. Roche then went into existing partnerships and as partners of choice, we used the scale of Roche to be present in more than 100 countries along with our salesforce, marketing, and branding to ramp up productions to scale diagnostics.
In Brazil, we were the first company to obtain the Covid-19 test legal registration, which demonstrates Roche's pioneering spirit and our commitment to the health of the population, since the diagnosis was key to managing and controlling the pandemic. Besides that, our field employees were also silent heroes. When everyone was at home, Roche employees were in hospitals ensuring that our solutions were being delivered and working. They were taking risks for the benefit of society.
EF: What mission did you set for yourself after your appointment and why Brazil?
CM: Why Brazil? Well, there's a huge connection between myself and the country. I have some relatives and plenty of friends in the country, and we've been coming here for holidays for decades.
Also, Brazil has huge opportunities. A large part of the population does not have adequate access to healthcare, which is why I am here, to create an impact. That is my passion, and I believe I'm a better person when I can create a solution to the challenges that the populations have here today in the healthcare ecosystem. At the end of the day, we need basic things to keep moving, and I want to contribute to those basic things. If we can increase access to innovation and new technologies and at the same time generate sustainability for the health ecosystem, this would mean employment and development for our people overall. Another personal mission is to provoke the best experience for every single Roche employee, contributing to their development and growth.
EF: In regards to the pandemic and the past couple of years, what do you think are the biggest lessons that you've learned over the past couple of years that apply to the future?
CM: First of all, I think we all realized that if we are really focused on something and we work together, there are no impossible things. We now know our mission, which is also one of the objectives we have in our organization for diagnostics; is to provide a very solid infrastructure of testing to the private and public systems, increasing the access to diagnostics and healthcare in Brazilian society as an outcome.
A big lesson for me was that the well-being and mental health of our people is more than ever a top-of-mind topic on our agenda. And for that, we currently have programs in place to support these colleagues. We also learned so much in the negotiation with governments, that we needed to do better stakeholder management, and be better prepared for such situations from an organizational standpoint. We were not prepared for this. We need to empower people in order to be able to create access and make sure we penetrate with our products and solutions and scale them.
EF: From a diagnostics point of view, what does access mean to you?
CM: I think real access for diagnostics starts with reimbursement, and reimbursement starts with engaging with the healthcare authorities and the regulators by having a conversation about how we can scale and where and when to adopt. Obviously, that includes a lot of health economics, outcomes, and results. This is where the discussion needs to happen at the table.
Normally, what we need is to get to the table of the governments and healthcare decision-makers, regulators, healthcare providers, and payers to show the value of these solutions. It's a lot about coming together and looking at the problem to then come up with a joint solution. So, co-creating with all these healthcare stakeholders is paramount to achieving healthcare outcomes. We need to look into the complete patient journey and provide solutions that go from diagnostic to treatments. And that's why Roche is well-positioned to go out there and promote access as a holistic thing, and not just as an isolated concept.
EF: What are you most excited about the pipeline into the future, in regards to the treatment of oncology patients, diabetic patients, and going back to the chronic diseases’ diagnoses, and also gene therapies?
CM: One of the most exciting things is all these new technologies and treatments that we are developing. For example, the personalized healthcare concept, which consists of the next genome sequencing technology that identifies which is the ideal treatment for that specific oncology patient, shows that every patient it’s a different case and needs to be treated like that. Another example is how we are working on artificial intelligence and bringing new tools and algorithms that help clinicians make better and faster decisions.
We have also created a new tool coming from diagnostics to be used with therapies as well for those doctors who do tumour board discussions, a group of different medical disciplines can come together to discuss a specific cancer patient. Before they needed to pull out information from multiple sites in the hospital or in the clinic, which would end up being in different departments such as the radiology, imaging, anatomic pathology, and haematology department, and this was a complex and difficult process. We then developed these software tools that allow you to concentrate and consolidate all the information, but also to follow up with the patient.
EF: As you embark upon this new role that you’ve had for six months, what legacy do you want to build in Brazil?
CM: The vision that I have for my legacy is divided into two pillars: the internal (Roche) and the external (Brazilian healthcare ecosystem). From the Roche standpoint, I would love to see my team self-organized to be able to fail fast and scale even faster solutions for the healthcare landscape in Brazil. I would also love to see Roche continuing to grow in areas like overall sustainability, governance, diversity, and inclusion. At the same time, I would love to continue seeing our Roche colleagues happy at their jobs, excelling, and pushing for more healthcare access to the patients, and for that, they need to be well from a work-life balance perspective.
If we were able to accomplish all of this, we would become the most valuable healthcare company in the world. Now, from the external perspective (Brazilian healthcare ecosystem), I would really love to see the result of our actions showing more access to patients to diagnostics medicine and healthcare overall. For that, we need to invest more in diagnostics and prevention as we know that 70% of all the world's clinical decisions are based on diagnostics. On a global level, only 2% of the healthcare expenditure is actually spent on diagnostics. In Brazil, that investment is much inferior, it's 0.5%. So, one of the objectives that I have for my legacy is to co-create with partners, public and private organizations, and society in general so we can influence the healthcare agenda to increase the access to cutting-edge diagnostics solutions that the Brazilian population deserves.