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EF: What lessons did you learn while managing during the pandemic?
JC: One of our biggest lessons was to value and cherish relationships with the team and our customers. Our biggest reflection was the importance of being close to people inside and outside the company. We built longer-lasting partnerships just by being present when everyone else was gone. Technology and virtual meetings were our communication tools to create those budding partnerships.
The pandemic was challenging for all of us. Connecting with the team, having open conversations about their situations and their feelings, and being understanding helped us form deeper connections. Being empathetic is something that we will continue practising.
We are at an inflexion point for our business across the globe, with the acceleration of the digital transformation notably after the Covid-19 pandemic. The ability to adapt to the circumstance and situations around us was an important lesson and this period brought a new environment to which we had to adapt quickly and seamlessly, leveraging digital tools to continue delivering our services. I believe the company will never be the same. We have grown and gone through challenges for the better.
EF: Can you elaborate on your current footprint and Colombia's strategic importance to the company's overall operations?
JC: Johnson & Johnson MedTech has been in Colombia for over 60 years. Our company is well known in the Colombian market for its quality products, service, and professional educational programs, as well as for creating long-term partnerships that add value while continually being patient-centric. As a transparent and ethical company, we have a great reputation that we will keep upholding.
Our brand is well-positioned within the Colombian market and has a very strong footprint. We use a 70:30 per cent direct-to-indirect business management model. A contracted network of distributors gets to more remote places. There are many opportunities for growth within all our businesses; holding market leadership positions on several platforms.
Our business is organized into three units starting with Ethicon, the general surgery brand. The second unit is DePuy Synthes, with the most comprehensive orthopaedics portfolio in the world. The third unit is Cardiovascular and Specialty Solutions. It has technologies to treat and cure atrial fibrillations, breast implants for reconstruction and augmentation, and devices to treat neurovascular conditions with a primary focus on strokes.
J&J MedTech Global is continuously assessing and looking to diversify, acquire, and divest portfolios to create sustainability and long-term competitive advantage. Our portfolio today is strategic, characterized by innovative, value-adding and patient-outcome-oriented technology.
EF: Is Colombia a hub for innovation, and what are the benefits of this innovation?
JC: As patients become more active in their own care, we must continue to go where the patients are. Health consumers around the world are increasingly reliant on information from digital channels. Generating awareness about the disease is critical for early diagnosis and interventions thus savings lives
We strive to bring innovative products that meet the needs of the Colombian market. We are an innovative company in Colombia because of our products, how we sell, and our approach to the market. We are different from other competitors because of our value-added approach.
In addition to our comprehensive portfolio of products, we aim to improve hospital efficiency, patient experience, and clinical outcomes through a robust portfolio of solutions. We partner with hospitals to build centres of excellence and co-create programs that align with their pain points and key challenges. Via open innovation in collaborations with start-ups, we seek to understand the problem and facilitate the process for tailor-made solutions for each customer.
Last year we launched an open innovation program “Comunidad HealthTech” where the selected customers and our initiative partners helped in identifying challenges in hospital operations that would benefit from a digital solution. After identifying the main needs, we partnered with startups around the globe to come up with digital solutions for the identified challenges.
The pandemic accelerated the adoption of digital solutions and tools. We became more resourceful and innovative with the pandemic by being more creative in-house. We became more agile with our processes and leveraged technology to digitize internal processes and become faster to market and closer to customers.
EF: Are you looking to implement AI in Colombia, and how do you see AI being adopted by physicians?
JC: Johnson & Johnson MedTech is leading the change building a holistic approach with accessible and efficient medical technology that delivers more connected, personalized and less invasive solutions to meet patient and customer needs, now and in the future.
The medical industry is still behind the digitalization trend. The pandemic accelerated progress in the digitalization of healthcare. The adoption of telemedicine and virtual learning was a huge gain during the pandemic. We are integrating digital into the business model to change the sector’s outlook in the future.
We are building a multi-speciality end-to-end digital ecosystem across orthopaedics, endoluminal intervention and general surgery. This ecosystem will connect patients and their healthcare professionals before, during, and after a procedure. Locally we must ensure that we keep accelerating the adaption and growth of digital healthcare, devising a way to expedite the fragmented system's digital transformation.
We have incorporated several digital solutions in the past couple of years into our solutions portfolio. One of our most remarkable ones is C-SATS, a technology for capturing and processing intraoperative videos. Coupled with human insights, C-SATS uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to facilitate surgical learning. The digital platform provides clinicians with a gamut of data analysis: clinical insights, peer feedback, evaluation from international C-SATS fellow members, and objective feedback. C-SATS can help surgeons enhance their surgical skills, which could help reduce the chances of post-surgical complications and thereby lead to better patient care.
We are also experimenting with Virtual Reality for surgical training. I recently experienced it myself, and it felt exactly as if I was in the surgical room although I did not leave the office.. VR enable professional medical education providing greater access to more surgeons to enhance their surgical skills. It is amazing what we will see and be able to do in the next ten years by leveraging digital technologies. The progress we will make in the next ten years in healthcare through digital will be more than the progress we have made in the past 50 years.
EF: Do you have examples of future public and private sector partnerships in creating a sustainable healthcare system?
JC: Working alone cannot drive significant change. Therefore, stakeholders and players like the government, private hospitals, insurance companies, and others must work together. To innovate, we need to come together and create patient-centric solutions. Being able to align with the needs of the patients and collaborating to find answers to all the challenges in healthcare is the main aim. Patient outcomes should be the goal that unites everyone in the industry.
Colombia has made a lot of progress in its universal healthcare coverage. The national healthcare system covers about 95% of the population. This is quite significant progress. Improving healthcare access in rural and remote areas as well as creating financial sustainability are the key challenges. Working together with a patient-centric approach and looking for efficiency along the value chain will contribute to making the system more sustainable.
EF: What can we expect to see from J&J MedTech Colombia over the next five years?
JC: Johnson and Johnson always has a long-term vision no matter the changes and challenges that occur around the world. We aim to be a patient-focused growth innovator and strive to innovate in our products, product delivery, partnerships, business models, processes, solutions, and value-based healthcare for customers. The ultimate goal is to improve healthcare in all territories contributing so that people can live longer, healthier and happier lives.
EF: At the end of the year, when you look back to 2022, what do you hope to be celebrating?
JC: Despite the challenges we encountered in 2020 and 2021, we were able to drive significant results in our business. In May, we celebrated all our achievements. During the pandemic, we became more collaborative, innovative and obsessed with serving our customers. This showed in our reported results.
In the previous years, we managed to push through and succeed amidst the shrinking market. We were able to position ourselves as the best partners for our customers. There were no layoffs, investments continued, and our educational programs continued. The beauty of Johnson & Johnson is its ability to weather tough situations. We are learning and preparing to catch the upside. It is why we were able to bounce back once the market started recovering again. Johnson & Johnson was made for times like these.