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EF: What are Fujifilm’s priorities and main goals in 2024?

JG:   Our primary focus is on continuous innovation. After Fuji successfully acquired Hitachi, our main objective was to move into new sectors and broaden our portfolio beyond our traditional strengths in medical fields like endoscopy. Traditionally known for film technology, we are now navigating the complexities of developing sophisticated machines. This shift requires a fundamental change in our internal mindset. Fujifilm has provided a strategic roadmap, allowing us to gradually step into this arena, starting with X-ray machines, progressing to mammography, and advancing into cutting-edge MRI technology.
Despite being IT leaders in Latin America and experts at managing diverse processes, the challenge lies in merging our expertise in IT with the complicated engineering demands of these innovations. This year's overarching goal is to seamlessly blend these two worlds—revisiting and harmonizing our IT leadership with our newfound skills in advanced engineering and application knowledge. This internal transformation is the core of our strategic objectives.

EF: How does Fujifilm assess hospitals in terms of obtaining equipment and becoming a partner of choice?

JG: We import some machinery from Japan and develop others internally in Mexico. We partner with clients to expand the market, shifting from selling machines to offering holistic technology solutions. It is not just about selling and installing; it is about creating a unique experience for our customers and providing extra value, for example, by increasing throughput.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been present in medicine since the 1980s, initially used for basic tasks like distinguishing bones from water. AI has become a global topic and is advancing faster than ever. The focus has shifted from aiding doctors in precise and faster diagnoses, to making the whole industry more efficient, enhancing productivity, patient care, and overall experiences.

Fuji's nanotechnology breakthrough, for instance, has resulted in smaller but superior X-ray machines with integrated AI. During emergencies where specialized radiologists might be unavailable, AI supports ER doctors in real-time diagnosis. This type of software integration extends to CT and MRI scans, where AI significantly reduces scan times, making the process 30 to 40% more efficient.
AI is a tool that enhances and improves various aspects of medical processes. It is not about replacing doctors; it is about making their work more effective. AI helps to efficiently place patients in machines for exams, sets up well-established protocols, and ensures high-quality images for quicker diagnoses.

In countries like Mexico, where the aging population is growing rapidly, making existing hospital infrastructure more efficient becomes crucial. AI becomes a key player in achieving this efficiency, not just by marking images but also by fundamentally changing how technology is used to achieve more with less.

EF: Can you elaborate on the educational initiatives you have in place for training professionals in the field, especially in areas like radiology?

JG: Last year and continuing into this year, we established a significant tech center within our warehouse. It features various machines and spaces tailored for technicians, clients, and doctors. The aim is not only to test our products but also to facilitate optimal usage learning. The installation of new machines usually involves a training process, but we observed that medical professionals often replicate what they have done in the past. Therefore, the goal of this tech center is not just to showcase how to operate the machines but to improve their techniques.

Similar to the evolution of cell phones, medical machines are increasing capabilities and getting smaller. This requires a change in how technicians approach their work. For instance, we are introducing new mammography equipment this year that helps precisely position the patient for the image. The AI recalls the patient's previous position, fostering a more confident comparative analysis for the doctor, elevating the efficiency of the procedure, and providing doctors with clearer images. This task is significant, and our clients, including hospitals and laboratories, are actively engaged in daily efforts to enhance patient care, both before and after obtaining the image.  

EF: How is Fujifilm addressing the challenge of healthcare accessibility throughout Mexico?

JG: Last year, as part of our 60th-anniversary celebration, we organized an exciting trade show to showcase many of our new technologies. One noteworthy exhibit was a mobile unit that contains all the essentials for a basic laboratory. Recognizing the challenges of having patients travel to healthcare institutes, particularly in crowded city environments, we have designed a compact van to bring healthcare directly to the people. The van features an x-ray room, a fully equipped laboratory with all the necessary chemistry equipment, an endoscopy unit, and an ultrasound machine. In contrast, more advanced ones include CT and MRI.
Using a regular car, we can create a mobile laboratory that can reach any location. This initiative is beneficial not only for urban communities but also for government and military use. We can outfit these trucks as small hospitals, providing medical facilities on-site, whether it is in the jungle or any other remote location. This approach aligns with a global trend seen in more advanced countries like Japan, where people are moving away from frequenting hospitals unless absolutely necessary. There is a growing understanding that sometimes visiting a hospital, even when not seriously ill, exposes individuals to various diseases prevalent in those environments.

EF: Why is investing in innovation in Mexico preferable to other locations?

JG: In Mexico's healthcare landscape, a few major players dominate the centralized system. This results in a limited number of prominent laboratory companies and hospital chains, with social security mainly concentrated in one or two key institutions. What makes Mexico particularly intriguing is the wealth of data available within these major institutions, including thousands of images, exams, and procedures. This abundance of data simplifies technology development in Mexico. The country has skilled engineers, robust knowledge, extensive databases, and big data resources. Collaborating with a single laboratory in Mexico provides access to millions of exams. By using the insights gained from these exams, we can develop and implement new machines and technologies.

The treasure of databases and big data available in Mexico has become a valuable resource for developers globally. Many countries are turning to Mexico to tap into these databases, knowledge pools, and collaborate with willing doctors who support advancements in the field. Importantly, the collaborative environment in Mexico is conducive to innovation, with significant support from both the government and various institutions, whether public or private. This backing facilitates investments, enabling us to utilize funds to create faster and more efficient protocols. Therefore, when seeking investment, it is not just about asking for funds; but about contributing to a thriving ecosystem that fosters quicker and better protocol development.

EF: How is Fujifilm leveraging its presence in Mexico to boost internal innovation and production?

JG: Mexico serves as a centralized hub for our company. The wealth of data available has become a valuable resource for our technological development. Leveraging the expertise of our skilled engineers and the substantial databases available, we have created software named Kotoba. This software, combined with our AI partnerships, automates the report-filling process.
In Mexico, medical diagnoses often require detailed reports, resulting in longer processing times. Our technology, developed in Mexico, contributes to a significant reduction in report-writing time, allowing doctors to work more efficiently. We are establishing a technological manufacturing hub in our country. While there are plans to expand with additional factories in the future, details are currently a work in progress. Mexico, strategically positioned adjacent to one of the largest consumer countries, the U.S., holds a considerable opportunity. With a skilled workforce and favorable conditions, Mexico becomes an ideal location for the development and, potentially, manufacturing of various products, which is particularly beneficial for countries like Japan with limited factory capabilities.

EF: Considering your extensive 17-year journey at Fujifilm, if you were to capture your greatest achievements as an instant photography- what would it show, and what description would you give it?

JG: Every day in this field brings new and diverse experiences, leading to constant evolution. Throughout my 17 years with the company, the excitement lies in the ongoing transformation, with each year feeling like a new adventure. What truly thrills me is the involvement of my team in creating innovative solutions and experiences for our customers. Rather than following a traditional sales approach, we prioritize understanding the needs of both clients and patients. This approach extends beyond introducing new products, emphasizing a shift in our sales strategy.
The goal is to redefine the experience not only for the doctors using our technology but also for the patients relying on this advanced healthcare. So, today captures the essence of the current moment, and if you were to ask me tomorrow, it would be about embracing what the future holds.

June 2024