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EF: The pandemic has brought an unprecedented amount of interest and collaboration to the healthcare sector, what are your priorities and what message do you want to convey?
PB: My priorities as far as Mexico are concerned is to coordinate and put in place whatever is necessary to deliver our services and keep my team safe and working in proper conditions while doing this. Our company has a full range of products; we sell devices, services, and consumer supplies for those devices. There is a lot of demand for our devices at the moment and if our projections are correct we will grow even if at the moment we can’t supply full demand. We manufacture ventilators -a necessity right now- and our customers with contracts and warranties have priority attention to solve their issues whatever they may be. We used to have an agenda offering preventive services and we are trying to push this service especially for the ventilators and this means our technical division is often exposed to risky environments, when working in an ICU they wear full protective equipment. We are bringing in to Mexico the consumer goods that will help in a pandemic. At the moment our business priority is focusing on delivering to our customers. We are -as most of the companies- working from home; we have organized communications on a daily basis to make our employees feel a support network around them and less isolated. We restructured our product offering to prioritize consumers that are working in hospitals and Covid-19 environments. Additionally, we had to re-plan with headquarters the procurement for safety equipment, to account for the new situation.
EF: Restricted as you are at present balancing imports and resources, what would be your advice to other business leaders navigating a pandemic?
PB: The people in critical positions must observe and listen to find the root of the problems, and then find solutions together with their teams to the specific issue. We have people in the field working in hospitals which are exposed and I have a team of ten people which we divided up to talk with our people in the field, listening to their fears and we all work together to find ways to give them the help and solutions or at least to reduce their concerns and fears. Listening and relying on my team has proven to be most productive to navigate transformational times. To this end, we work hand-in-hand and keep communication lines open.
EF: Considering a long term vision in healthcare is necessary, what are DRAEGER´s long term strategic goals for Mexico?
PB: A few months ago my answer would have been we have a 5-year strategic plan for Mexico to duplicate our volume from 2018 to 2023, looking to customer-solutions to enable us to reach that goal. Covid-19 has changed our long-term plan, we decided to focus on business continuity rather than business growth. Our production site is working in 3 shifts, and we are working hard to procure imported parts to produce the devices we offer. Some of our supplies are imported as they are sensitive and require sophisticated technology, especially the ones for respiratory devices. Our long-term strategic goal is to grow and while it might seem easy with today’s situation, we have to prioritize strategically our customer base to focus on our business, without leaving aside the social impact, which it is not easy. We will have to reconstruct relationships and we hope they will understand the reasoning behind our decisions, that focus our values as a company.
EF: Could you elaborate on the current status of the DRAEGER Academy, focused on training healthcare workers to better utilize your devices?
PB: We provide high-quality, highly-configurable products. Because of this, devices can be configured to specific needs. This is where our academy comes into play. We want doctors to use our products at their full capability, to provide better healthcare. To this end, we organize meetings, workshops, and seminars to teach doctors how our products can be tailored to specific needs. To take advantage of the technology you need education. This is why we will introduce certifications that will add value to our customers when using our products.
EF: With COVID-19 you will probably have to accommodate public needs; but with regard to the next 2 or 3 years, what would your public-private market look like?
PB: Our plans have been in the making for some time now, we have started offering our private customers what we call ´internal services´ in anaesthesia and in some cases in ICUs which involve preparing the whole operating rooms, installing the anaesthesia machines with the service included –the machine, the machine´s supplies and the service- which means a long term contract in quality. For the hospital, it is a good deal as they don’t have to buy the assets and can invest in other hospital needs and we get paid on a monthly basis. With ICU, the arrangement is similar; we put up the ICUs and collect for the days that they are used which is quite an innovative business model for private hospitals that are starting up and don’t want to invest in the needed equipment. This isn’t a model we can use for the public sector as there are big hospitals in big cities all over the country. We will need time to mature the service in order to understand exactly what we need as it is a big operation but the idea is to be competitive in the public sector as well in the future. We are also giving customers financing options if they buy our long term service and supplies, we supply anaesthesia machines, sometimes we change old machines for new ones to help the small private customer and small hospital which often buy second-hand machines due to budget demands and this way they can modernize -we use innovate business models delivering to hospitals to improve access. With consumer goods, we put up our most common supplies on the internet for the hospitals to buy whenever they need to and also to show publicly the product´s price so that higher prices are not paid. We are so busy repairing machines we have to refuse work or take longer than usual to offer solutions but I believe the customer will get the inside of the benefit of a long term service contract. Services are really important to us. We are trying to attack all the different business fronts which will allow better service for our customers and for us to grow in the country. However, the public and private markets work differently. We would like to use our “per-use” business model for the public market, but the current structure for tenders does not allow for us to present a solution that we believe will create a fruitful long-term solution.
EF: Health-tech and healthcare companies manage excellent triple bottom line (people profit and the planet), the leader’s role is crucial so what is your advice to other managers in maintaining a good triple bottom line?
PB: Considering my one and a half year being a CEO, I believe that to study and understand the needs of the customer, listen to their demands and complaints using the team and take decisions based on their full scope and not the immediate result or consequence of any one decision, always looking at the bigger picture and how a decision will impact the total business plan. To know what direction to take and make the right decisions one must communicate with all sides.
EF: With the shift we have been seeing in healthcare, in general, how do you envision the future of homecare specifically in Mexico?
PB: We aim to have all healthcare devices integrated so the doctors can make better and faster decisions. This is not always possible mainly because our health services and systems are not all integrated so the doctors have to input the patient’s information. What we are seeing now is that all company devices are more integrated and can connect to the network to include all the patients’ information which will be used in our case to regulate the ventilation and anaesthesia the patient will receive so if the data varies it will need to be cross-checked. This is the direction devices are taking at present allowing for faster and better decisions, we are participating in a new code for all devices of different labels to work with the same communication technology so that devices from different companies can talk to each other as well as being able to access all the information the device is generating. Our machine has a database where we collect all the information including when the machine will need a service or repair without having to put the device offline for the actual repair. This is the future of healthcare devices.
EF: As a manager of a leading medical device company the strategic decisions you are making today will affect the future of healthcare, what sort of impact would you like to have in Mexico in a 10-year road map?
PB: I am looking to make the company grow faster than in the past, give employment to more people in Mexico, help hospitals to have and use the latest technology and introduce our products which are of the best quality and technology available. In the past, we focused only on governmental clients because this was the easiest way to reach all regions of a big country like Mexico. Now we want to grow on the SME market, so our high-end technology can be more accessible to the Mexican population.