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EF: 2020, was the year of diagnostics, 2021 the year of vaccines, what do you think 2022 will be the year of? What do you think it would look like?
PF: 2022 would be the year of growth. With Brazil having more than 30% of its citizens lacking access to healthcare, this is our starting point. Our company is 130 years old with a history of innovation and a 100% focus on healthcare. Therefore, being an important player in the healthcare field, this is where we see the biggest opportunity to grow, help, and make a difference. We felt this role was actualized the most during the pandemic, especially since we were providing health inside the hospital.
The pandemic has also opened bigger opportunities for growth through telemedicine and connections. We as a company understand the need to grow and have an ecosystem with agnostic products and technology. The future is not a one-company type of future, it's an eco-system.
EF: Looking back over the past couple of years, what do you think are the biggest lessons you've learned?
PF: We had to learn to work remotely, not only thinking about employees but the client side as well. Clients were unwilling to attend online treatment sessions but with time we all had to adapt. Our company wasn't prepared to sell this way, but we had to solve an issue and so we did. We also learned that people were the best assets we had and that we had to take care of our mental health and that of our people.
EF: Did you introduce new KPIs during this period to manage change?
PF: No. When we went 100% online, we had an employee survey where we measured employee engagement and it was amazing. It was even higher than before as people felt we were taking care of their health and that we were good to them. We actually never let go of any employee during the pandemic. As such, they kept delivering their job as they understood that they were important, and they stayed engaged. We didn't have issues with performance, and we also didn't do the KPI specifically to measure this.
EF: How did you manage to improve the experience of the patients and the staff during sessions of the pandemic?
PF: We gave our staff the possibility to work from home. Clients didn't lose any quality in terms of service, and we improved our response time. We also ramped up our equipment production and our headquarters sent help to countries where the pandemic effects were higher.
EF: How would you describe the strategic importance of Brazil to Philips?
PF: We have a Brazilian EMR, which is one of our main products, a technology that we proudly developed in Brazil and that has helped us grow our roots and impact in Brazil and worldwide. We do have other important products as well, but that is the only EMR machine we have, and it's in Brazil. We as a company have the entire portfolio to work in the prevention, diagnosis, and home care treatment. We have become more of a service company that handles both software and hardware.
EF: How do you allocate the resources between the public and the privates in Brazil?
PF: We have a specific team working with tenders and approaching the government to show them new technologies. From a Brazil point of view, most beds are in the public sector, however, most of our revenue comes from the private sector. Nevertheless, we have a lot of opportunities to grow in the public sector in the coming years, as they're now realizing they need to be more organized digital-wise, and the pandemic has emphasized this. So, I'd say we're in both the private and public sectors.
EF: How would you rate the level of adoption of digital data, and what do you think are the policies that are needed to be put in place as well?
PF: Systems need to be friendly, otherwise people will keep using Excel sheets. We measure our innovations and products by putting into consideration the number of clicks a person needs to make to assess something. We also believe that training is an integral part of this, as this is not trained in school. We are partnering with some clients and public sectors to develop this training because if we want to have a system that will help and make an impact, we need to participate in the education. We need to create a system that is easy to use and work with partners for training.
EF: How do you rate healthcare access in Brazil?
PF: Not good. Telemedicine is a good example of a tool that can broaden access. We need more creative programs, systems, and equipment that can be used in areas that have no internet connection. We do have healthcare professionals that go to places that are difficult to access, but not enough. However, we also have a great partnership when it comes to telemedicine in Brazil, which helps us with licenses, and we provide a mobile device that has access to a doctor via telemedicine. There’s still a need to create devices that don't need an internet connection and that can be charged with solar energy, as this equipment is focused on these remote areas so there is an increase in access to healthcare.
EF: Are there any equipment or technology that you're excited about bringing to Brazil on their pipeline?
PF: Yes. We have a product that allows us to manage ICUs from a distance and we also have ICU cameras that now allow clients to see their loved ones in real-time. We are trying to bring this to Brazil as we've seen a big opportunity there.
EF: What is your take on the level of data decision-making by physicians or AI in Brazil? How do you see the future of home care or remote care becoming a part of the system of health management?
PF: This is going to happen, but it is not a short-term transformation. In Short-term, the health sector keeps consolidating quality stuff and has prepared its own digital transformation. Mid-term, three years down the line, when there is data, interoperability, and 5G, they will look into artificial intelligence for diagnosis as this is not exercised with AI yet. In the long term, there will be a consolidation of the market between hospitals and insurance companies.
EF: What advice would you give to a woman that wants to pursue leadership roles in the healthcare industry?
PF: Trust in yourself. Women doubt themselves, unlike men who take risks. We need to have more women take on challenges to encourage even more women. We have a lot of competent women, but we need to work on providing them flexibility and balance. And with the pandemic, we can now work from anywhere which allows us to have more flexibility. I believe women will now be more eager to take on these positions and challenges.
EF: Fast forward 10 years from today, what would you like your tenure to be remembered for?
PF: I want to feel like I was part of this and that I was in this position during the pandemic, because things will be completely different in 10 years. No one in this generation went through a pandemic, and I was in this position while it was happening. My survival and the survival of the company are also something I look forward to. Also, I hope we changed the lives of many by delivering equipment and by giving them access to our remote devices.