Read the Conversation

EF: What attracted you to Coloplast Brazil?  

ML: Coloplast’s fundamental principle lies in its commitment to user-centricity. Every aspect of our operations revolves around providing the best solution for our end users. Establishing a remarkably close bond with our users has been an unprecedented experience for me. In the pharmaceutical sector, the interaction with users is very limited, leaving us primarily connected to healthcare professionals. In my previous engagements with medical technology companies, we dealt mainly with institutions like hospitals, maintaining a significant distance from the end users. 

Consequently, Coloplast presents a completely different approach to me, as we can observe our products' transformative impact on users' lives. Our corporate mission is clear: to make life easier for people with intimate healthcare needs. Interacting with individuals who rely on our products highlights the challenging reality of living with such difficulties. These issues have significant social implications. Offering products that alleviate the psychological burden on our users reflects our dedication to our mission. 

Likewise, facilitating the use of catheters for bladder emptying among wheelchair users and others in need of catheters presents a formidable challenge. Many of these individuals deal with paralysis, making walking just one of their many difficulties. Supporting them in preventing infections, renal failure, and social complications is truly inspiring. Another product line we provide includes 3-in-1 skin care. Witnessing individuals in hospitals using our products to deal with their injuries, aiding those transitioning home, or helping those in home care manage diabetic wounds fills us with gratification. This most captivating aspect influenced my decision to join the company. 

Moreover, after many years of working for American companies, I am immersing myself in a new culture. Danish people exude kindness and exhibit a remarkable sense of corporate management, trust, empowerment, and autonomy. Leading our Brazilian business has been a positive experience. It encompasses a comprehensive package comprising numerous challenges, remarkable growth opportunities for the company, and immense personal satisfaction.  

During onboarding, we undergo our initial encounter with the company: wearing the bag for an entire day. This experiential exercise serves as a vital component in understanding the magnitude of our work. This real-life encounter bestows invaluable insight into the implications of our endeavors. 

EF: What is Coloplast Brazil's role within the corporate landscape, and what opportunities do you envision for the branch?  

ML: Coloplast Brazil holds a crucial and strategic position as an affiliate within the corporation. It operates under the Emerging Markets group, with Brazil being the sole country reporting directly to the Senior Vice President of this region. With a strong presence and significant contributions to revenue and profitability, we have received substantial investment in recent years. These investments will continue to be made, as Brazil still holds vast untapped potential for market development.  

Brazil was the first country to integrate Atos, now Coloplast’s voice and respiratory care business, into operations. Moreover, the corporation has recently announced another acquisition involving an Icelandic company. The integration will further emphasize Brazil's importance and strategic position.  

As I approach my fourth month in the company, I am actively learning and collaborating with my direct reports to develop a tactical plan for the coming years. Our aim, although ambitious, is to double the company's size in Brazil within the next few years, aligning with the immense market potential the country offers. 

Given the significance of Brazil and its projected future impact on the company, we focus on comprehending this dynamic nation's political, economic, and social landscape. This understanding will enable us to position the company effectively and allocate resources, product lines, and investments to drive accelerated growth and achieve our doubling target. As the market undergoes substantial changes, our challenge lies in adapting to this shifting environment while maintaining our competitiveness and success. Through careful analysis and strategic decision-making, we aim to unlock Brazil's tremendous growth prospects and solidify its important role within the company. 

EF: What is Coloplast Brazil’s strategic approach to driving market growth? 

ML: Our approach focuses on market development and expanding our market share. We currently hold a dominant position in ostomy care, yet Brazil's standard of care for ostomy patients remains subpar. Patients should ideally receive at least 30 bags per month from the government, but they are currently only receiving 10. Improving the standard is imperative. We must advocate for patients to receive adequate supplies from the government and collaborate with the private sector to educate them on meeting users' needs. Simultaneously, we aim to safeguard our market share and attract new users. 

For continence care, we offer our exceptional hydrophilic catheters as the best-in-class solution for neurogenic bladder patients. However, the government has yet to determine municipalities' and states' purchasing and reimbursement mechanisms. Today, patients are covering costs on their own and through private insurance. Despite having Conitec approval, the government's priorities primarily lie with life-saving technologies and items related to diabetes. Although some municipalities have independently established programs to procure and distribute catheters using their funds, unlocking greater access to our continence products remains critical. Our task in incontinence care is to break through access barriers and improve the standard of care.  

The same applies to our neurology and Atos division, where we seek to increase access to patients on waiting lists for this crucial technology. 

EF: How does Coloplast Brazil engage with patients and advocacy groups to gain insights and feedback on products to improve the patient journey? 

ML: Our priority is to adhere to Health Med's compliance regulations, which entail specific guidelines for user interactions. We have a dedicated call center with specialized nurses and a comprehensive patient database. Proactively, we reach out to users through collective calls, ensuring their well-being, addressing any needs they might have, and providing exceptional support. This patient support program has earned widespread recognition. Our operations begin post-surgery in the hospitals, where trained nurses offer educational programs, support, and samples, guiding patients on how to obtain products from government resources or private insurance. Following hospital visits, our call center initiates a follow-up process with the patients. 

Our protocol entails three calls. The first occurs shortly after enrollment, allowing us to connect with the patient or their family member, providing a touchpoint to assess their well-being. The second call takes place after 30 days, during which we ascertain if the user successfully acquired the product from either the government or private insurance. Lastly, we conduct our final call after three months, focusing on the user's quality of life. We also ask about their return to daily life and the implications that might have. 

This three-call protocol is implemented for every patient, irrespective of their public or private status. We are committed to offering education, and support, and helping with product access for all our users.  

We go beyond acquiring products, addressing dietary concerns, habits, leakage prevention, and offering suggestions for skin care. We provide a holistic patient support system, embodying a compelling value proposition. Coloplast is a frontrunner in intimate healthcare due to its wide range of products, patient support programs, and valuable nurse-patient relationships.  

Furthermore, our office features a training center where we frequently invite representatives from private insurance companies, municipalities, and states for workshops alongside our nurses. This allows them to gain an understanding of the daily lives of patients. We provide samples and prototypes for hands-on experience. Additionally, we have designed a bathroom in our office specifically catering to individuals who use wheelchairs and those who rely on ostomy bags, showcasing a new model for municipalities and states to replicate. Remarkably, such bathrooms are rare and there are currently only three in the whole country. 

EF: What skills and resources are you seeking to expand the company, and how has the pandemic shaped your approach to integrating hybrid and analog work for the growth of Coloplast Brazil? 

ML: To effectively support our future growth, resource allocation within the company is crucial. To maintain our company's DNA of user-centricity in the workforce, we seek individuals with a blend of commercial and technical expertise while possessing a deep comprehension of our customers' needs. Furthermore, as access within our unique context differs from traditional pharma or biotech companies, we must develop a specialized approach. Our focus lies in understanding the complex patient journey and identifying and overcoming barriers effectively. 

The digital realm assumes an increasingly critical position in our operations. We aim to bolster our digital presence by recognizing our commitment to end users. Our dedicated digital department is working to ensure optimal resource allocation. Social media platforms play a pivotal role in disseminating our message and promoting knowledge. These tools serve commercial purposes and provide educational content for our users.  

EF: Beyond achieving targets, what accomplishments would you like to celebrate and pursue with your team within the next three to five years? 

ML: My ultimate vision is to witness more wheelchair users getting access to reimbursed intermittent catheters and ostomy users getting the right amount of bags from the government, enabling them to lead normal and active lives. I aspire to celebrate alongside my team as we double our presence in the country and strive to become the leading company in our segment, extending beyond mere revenues and market share. I desire us to be recognized as the preferred employer in the industry, offering best-in-class products while embodying the essence of user-centricity.  

Our employee turnover rate is impressively low, and the level of internal satisfaction is exceptionally high. The happiness of our employees resonates within the company.  

Moreover, I aspire to establish Coloplast Brazil as a benchmark in the medical, Med-tech, and consumer segments, further solidifying our reputation as an industry leader.  

August 2023