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EF: 2020 was the year of diagnostics and prevention, and 2021 was the year of vaccines. What do you think 2022 will be remembered for?
EP: The world experienced considerable disruptions to supply chain management and rising inflation. That, coupled with devaluation in Brazil affected so many companies. The situation was worsened by the fact companies could not translate inflation into their pricing. This is why I believe this year is about rethinking and reshaping the business to make it grow and make it profitable again. Therefore, 2022 will be remembered as the year of getting businesses back on track.
EF: What have been the biggest lessons you have learned from the Brazilian market while managing Fresenius during the pandemic?
EP: As a leader one of the biggest lessons learned was about managing people. Before the pandemic, traditional ways of working and running the company were working very well for us, but the moment the pandemic hit it was difficult to keep using the same strategies and it challenged us to change our processes and work model. We came up with innovative and strategic solutions for communicating, delivering projects, and developing business operations. We started using digital platforms and working virtually.
The way we measure productivity has drastically changed. Before it was about monitoring people and continuously following up on them in the office. Now we measure deliverables instead. I have become more flexible with my team’s delivery times and time management.
Furthermore, during the pandemic, we discovered that 30% of the people that used the ventilator required an acute renal treatment, for which we launched new equipment that would help combat this in Brazil. Renal therapy is a complex treatment, so we were used to training hospitals and clinics that used our equipment and disposables in person, but the needs exceeded our capacity. Once we realized that we couldn’t keep up with the training demand, we switched from in-person to virtual. This augmented our productivity giving to many patients the opportunity to receive their vital treatment.
EF: Did you include any new KPIs that you will keep in your roaster of measuring productivity?
EP: Performance metrics are important which is why we are still looking for the right ones, to provide the right balance between operations and performance. In Brazil, we have about 3.500 employees, 35 dialysis clinics, two plants, and a software house. Thus, is mandatory to have an appropriate way to manage remotely our staff performance and needs, but as mentioned we are still not satisfied with the tools that we have now.
EF: Can you elaborate on the strategic importance of Brazil to Fresenius Medical Care?
EP: Brazil is strategically very important for the company, being the sixth largest dialysis population in the world, it’s a big market with boundless opportunities.
I have been with Fresenius for the past twenty years, eight of which were as a general manager. I can assure you that Brazil is part of the future plans of Fresenius, and our creativity to find ways to manage successfully a company despite the diversities imposed by the market gives the confidence of our shareholders to continue to invest in Brazil.
EF: When you celebrate 10 years as general manager at Fresenius Brazil in two years what is your speech going to be?
EP: We plan our strategic goals in cycles of five years. We are currently carrying out the goals we set from 2019 to 2024. Coincidentally the cycle ends in two years. We have twenty-seven objectives with 127 strategic projects that we follow up on every month with the strategy committee.
So, my speech will be, despite the disruptions and challenges from the pandemic and the war, we were able to implement our strategic projects, which made us successfully reach our vision expected for 2024
EF: Is there a specific trend you see that can reshape the way dialysis will be managed in the future?
EP2: I believe that in the 5 years, new drugs will postpone the entrance of patients on dialysis, which will be good for countries like Brazil, where 80% of the patients have the treatments paid for by the government and the dialysis providers face economics difficulties due to the low reimbursement rate offered by SUS, I also consider that in 10 years, home hemodialysis will be more accessible improving the quality life of the chronic patients.