Read the Conversation
EF: You come from a speciality pharma background; what brought you to IQVIA, and why were you the right person to take the helm?
MM: It was a decision based on purpose: to generate a bigger impact in the healthcare industry. I love sitting with my counterparts and helping them rethink their businesses, see new opportunities and bring new solutions. I see this purpose in terms of what I can bring to the world. As a global analytics and technology company serving life sciences, IQVIA has solutions spanning all phases of a product or company lifecycle, from its very early stage (even before the molecule exists) to late lifecycle management for mature brands. Every day is different because it is a different client, different problem, and different situation.
EF: What are the core problems with the Mexican healthcare sector right now?
MM: We have a very complex system in Mexico, which for some programs or some diseases, has worked well and for others not so well. If we think of developing countries, access to various aspects of healthcare is a common issue. The Mexican healthcare system has created its own way of increasing access. There are medical physicians in the pharmacies—according to COFEPRIS, there are approximately 16,000 offices spread throughout the country. Now we have the difficulty of optimizing resources with the new mindset of the government and how to deliver quality outcomes to the patients, not just on medication, but in the whole healthcare system, how to work effectively on prevention and the utilization of resources.
EF: Regarding resource optimization, there’s an old project-management adage known as the Iron Triangle: “Fast, good, or cheap. Pick two.” In other words, you can have it fast and good, but it’ll be expensive; you can have it fast and cheap, but it’ll be low quality; you can have it good and cheap, but it’ll take forever. Which two would you pick?
MM: We have to ask whether a change has to happen according to the current rules or the old rules. When we think creatively, we can solve common problems on different levels or with a different scope. A commercial example of this is that a few companies have eliminated the district manager position, despite having hundreds of sales reps, almost a thousand in some cases. To optimize the resources of a pharma company that has a very traditional way of approaching the market, changes have to be made with the full utilization of technology, creating and driving behaviour and accountability.
For the Mexican system, I would pick fast and good, because I think we have had a lot of cheap alternatives already—all the generics that have been brought into developing nations—and I don’t think we can leverage much more in this direction. What’s good for the healthcare system is good for the patient in both disease management and prevention. It’s a matter of doing it fast enough to generate an impact in the short term while still allowing for high-quality impact for the end-user or the patient in the long term. Mexico has a system with many rules, and to simply lower the quantity of resources or trading for cheaper versions of what we have, means that at the end of the day we will have less and less of what we really need if we simply go cheap.
EF: To what extent do you see these sectors and their General Managers (GMs) open to implementing innovation in their own companies?
MM: There is a natural pressure for them to innovate, and there are new people in the workforce that feel differently, so every GM has the challenge of managing the generation gap and what it involves. People think differently, they use technology differently, and the traditional way of management has changed as well. Every year, one has to be more efficient until a plateau is reached unless one innovates. I talk with a lot of GMs who propose agile workforces, better use of technology, multichannel activities, etc., so they are aware of these trends. Others want to do it but are not sure of how or when to implement it. I do feel at least that there is a lot of interest in trying new ways of doing things. Some people come to us with completely disruptive initiatives, so I think there is a sincere interest, even if they don’t feel fully supported on how to implement these initiatives. The ones that go solo need to be really brave because it could backfire on them!
EF: How difficult is it to manage the many projects that technology generates, which probably are very atomized by the many ideas and efforts that exist?
MM: The point is about how we can collaborate as individuals leveraging the technology. If there is a vision and people behind it, technology will make things happen, just like the case of an entire salesforce without district managers. How to integrate innovation is the reason I want to be where I am today – at IQVIA, a company of more than 58,000 employees around the world. If we were a pharma company, we would be a top 20 employer, because the scope of what we do is broad and dynamic. We can help design a molecule, we can help design the studies, execute, submit, develop a strategy, help with the data needed to understand the market, help with a patent, help use the technology from a CRM system to engage customers. And we do this because technology doesn’t integrate itself in isolation, there is a need to collaborate with the human side of the business. The challenge of integration begins by first integrating people, and technology will follow. When we align people on a common vision, it makes anything possible.
EF: What was the mission you were given when you took the helm of IQVIA Mexico in January?
MM: We are performing well, and my job is to continue this positive trend alongside Xavier Valdez, who is assuming a regional role. Mexico is the second most important country in the region. For some of our products and services, we are the biggest in the region. There are important opportunities out there, and my job is to seize the opportunities, whether in access, in how we use technology, regarding the new solutions we bring to the market, our consulting, as well as the way we help clients think about approaching the market, and in dealing with the new government mandates—these are to mention only a few. We all know that medication itself is a small fraction of the healthcare system. We can only go so far in reducing costs, but if we think of the entire system we could have a more significant impact.