Read the Conversation

EF: What are Hospital Mae de Deus's priorities for this year?  

RC: We have transitioned from the pandemic to a new normal, and navigating this new era will require significant effort and resilience. 

The current situation combines various factors, such as new government policies and the introduction of a minimum income for nurses by the middle of the year. While larger hospitals like Mae de Deus may not face significant challenges since our current salary range aligns, smaller hospitals, particularly those located away from main cities, will be heavily impacted. These hospitals play a crucial role in our philanthropic endeavors, providing healthcare to patients who cannot afford insurance. The changes might destabilize the public sector, as philanthropic hospitals contribute significantly to Brazil's general health. Furthermore, the new circumstances will challenge insurers whose margins are already under pressure due to rising post-pandemic costs.  

We are currently witnessing a trend toward verticalization due to decreasing healthcare margins. The ongoing state of inflation has diminished profits, and resolving this issue needs operational efficiency. However, the existing healthcare system does not incentivize adopting efficient practices.  

Following the US-American model, Brazil is creating dominant providers in each region through mergers. This approach reduces administrative costs and increases market power for sales and purchases. Additionally, it empowers these large players to negotiate with doctors more effectively, improving efficiency. Nevertheless, we must be cautious about focusing solely on short-term gains. We need a balanced approach to healthcare transformation. It is essential to also emphasize health promotion and disease prevention. Failure to do so would result in repeating the same mistake, wherein healthcare costs continue to rise, burdening consumers, especially given the increased power of mega providers in the market. 

For the Brazilian market, it is crucial to recognize that the growth of wealth is intrinsically linked to expanding access. We must seek innovative approaches that foster accessibility and affordability, aligning with the evolving needs of our society. We can create a healthcare landscape that ensures growth and inclusivity by embracing forward-thinking strategies. 

In the current healthcare scenario, we are focused on addressing system challenges. However, potential solutions are divided into two paths: prioritizing short-term results over transformative projects and emphasizing cost reduction without compromising quality. This short-term thinking and financial focus may hinder substantial changes and overlook the need for financial stability.  

The hospital system, with human health at stake, is among the most intricate and vital industries. This complex system plays a critical role in delivering healthcare and driving innovation. It is crucial to challenge the existing healthcare model, shifting towards a more efficient and patient-centric approach that drives value and provides sustainable solutions for the future. 

EF: Does Hospital Mae de Deus collaborate with pharmaceutical companies to drive innovation through clinical trials? 

RC: We have proactively increased our involvement in clinical research. Renowned as a key player in the industry, particularly in oncology and hematology, we are actively engaged in numerous impactful trials and are recognized in relevant publications. This commitment will allow us to embrace innovative treatments like CAR T-cell therapy. The controlled research environment ensures optimal patient selection, leading to enhanced outcomes. With the advent of personalized and precision medicine, we are witnessing a significant shift towards tailoring treatments to individual patients' needs. 

EF: How are hospitals adapting to the future of personalized and precision medicine? 

RC: Our strategy for the future involves forming partnerships with technology creators and industry leaders who excel in diagnostics and genetic testing. These collaborations enable us to invest in and understand the business plans behind these technologies, ensuring a favorable return on investment over an extended period. 

Specifically in digital transformation, innovation encompasses the creation of connected platforms that enable different players to fulfill their roles in the healthcare system through technology. Although hospitals will remain important, they should have a less frequent role in patient interactions during their healthcare journey. These interactions should concentrate on the areas where hospitals excel. Each party involved has a valuable role to fulfill within their respective cost structure. By embracing connectivity, hospitals can become part of a larger, more integrated environment while maintaining their specialization in high-complexity healthcare and holding the authority to guide and orient the healthcare system.  

EF: How will data technology and AI influence the healthcare sector? 

RC: AI will experience rapid development across all aspects of healthcare, encompassing primary care, diagnostics, treatment decision-making assistance, and even administrative tasks like appointment transcriptions. We have already implemented AI elements that accelerate the identification of patients at risk. As we allow algorithms time for training, the effectiveness of AI becomes clear in our practice. The possibilities presented by AI are vast and hold tremendous potential. 

In the context of hospitals, technological adoption must occur on two fronts: In process enhancement through AI to improve diagnostics, primary care, and procedures, and secondly, to establish interconnectedness within the sector. With numerous stakeholders involved in this intricate supply chain, a single entity's downfall can have far-reaching consequences, affecting payers, operators, employees, and patients. Thus, facilitating effective communication and collaboration among these stakeholders is vital. 

When discussing the use of patient data, it is essential to acknowledge the patients themselves are the rightful owners. Irrespective of the platform they engage with, doctors should maintain accessibility to patients, including through their smartphones. 

EF: How can Brazil make itself more attractive for investment? 

RC: A significant part of Brazil's healthcare development can be attributed to the influx of foreign investment in mergers, acquisitions, and greenfield projects. However, given the uncertain landscape, in recent months, some investors have begun questioning the long-term sustainability of the attractive profit margins that initially drew them in. Considering this, it becomes crucial for the sector to convey the underlying strength of the business foundations and emphasize a focus on sustainable long-term investments. Maintaining overly narrow profit margins could pose challenges in the future. Failure to do so may result in a decline in foreign investment flowing into Brazil's healthcare industry, despite its immense market potential and growth prospects. 

EF: How has the pandemic impacted the healthcare workforce? 

RC: One notable change following the pandemic is the widespread reconsideration of work and lifestyle choices. Particularly in healthcare, nurses find the demanding nature of their work at odds with the evolving global perspective. While many professionals may not completely abandon their positions, they actively explore alternative options within or outside hospitals to find less stressful roles. This trend is evident in mature markets and affluent nations, where healthcare systems need more professionals willing to work in high-stress environments. Our market may encounter similar challenges soon. This issue is not unique to Brazil or emerging markets but has become a global concern after the pandemic as individuals reassess their professional commitments and aspirations. 

EF: How is Mae de Deus implementing targeted strategies to nurture and equip its workforce with the essential skills required for the future? 

RC: We maintain a strong sense of closeness with our employees through regular personal meetings and open dialogues. 

Our approach involves collaborating closely, particularly with our doctors, to ensure their involvement in decision-making processes. While market data aids our decision-making regarding personnel, there is no substitute for directly listening to the staff's needs and experiences.  

Promoting this open communication also enables us to recognize and tackle leadership difficulties in specific departments, creating a nurturing atmosphere. Moreover, investing in extensive projects to improve working conditions remains crucial. In line with this objective, we have allocated approximately 60 million towards infrastructure enhancements. One of our hospital units has undergone significant expansion, resulting in a remarkable transformation. The unit now radiates a visually appealing atmosphere with abundant natural light. This uplifting environment has had a profound impact on the morale and well-being of our staff. It fosters a sense of pride and belonging, as they are part of a thriving organization that is making a positive difference. Ultimately, we aim to imbue the daily work experience with purpose. 

June 2023