For almost all for-profit health care businesses this crisis is both a huge threat and an opportunity. We’d be lying if we claimed the opportunity was as big as the threat but CEOs are in many places laying the foundations for the next decade by how they respond to the crisis.
The opportunity is to build trust, reputation and strong relations with public payors and public sector players. How you behave now will affect how they perceive you in the future.
Stefan Sturm, CEO of health care conglomerate Fresenius says as much in this interview. Analysts say the message from Sturm has been in 2020 don’t judge our performance in terms of profit but our relevance and contribution to the public health care system.
For Dimitris Moulavasilis, CEO of dialysis chain Diaverum that means a pro-active approach. The company connected with local public hospitals near its dialysis clinics with offers of help. In one instance, it gave the Portuguese state a dialysis clinic.
In all countries, Diaverum has tried to develop joint contingency plans with hospital systems and Ministries of Health. In some cases, it has taken over patients so that wards can be emptied for COVID-19.
All this was possible because Diaverum acted fast. From early February, it developed a 78 point contingency plan to deal with the virus. It dealt with a shortage of protective kit and the chaos of countries seizing stuff in transit by chartering a jet to fly directly to Shanghai and bring back a planeload. It was one of the earliest players to offer its own staff a 24-hour counselling and support line. It has drastically redesigned every clinic to enable COVID patients to be separated. That was easy to do in Spain where the threat was imminent, harder in Brazil where it had yet to land.
All this means that the company is likely to be well-positioned as a responsible operator – even “a thought leader”, in Moulavasilis’ words
We have seen similar moves elsewhere. A few years ago imaging group Alliance Medical landed a national CT project in the UK by wooing the physicians in elite institutions and demonstrating what it could deliver. Affidea, the Pan-European imaging group claimed that its willingness to engage and build centres in Bosnia Herzgovinia at a very early stage and with legal contracts has led to many years of goodwill and cooperation.
Now is the time for that sort of thinking.We would welcome your thoughts on this story. Email your views to Max Hotopf or call 0207 183 3779.