Formerly a division of Kodak, Carestream became independent in 2007. What has been its contribution to the healthcare sector in Mexico since then?
Carestream was founded almost eight years ago, with the vision of leveraging innovation to provide better patient healthcare. That is ultimately the goal of our company, even though we have 100 years of experience, history, and legacy from Kodak. Our recent years have been devoted to innovation through both healthcare and how we do business. In a highly customer-centric company supported by programs, we work toward innovating our processes, products, and solutions.
You were appointed Director of Latin America in 2010. How have your operations evolved since then?
Over the past four years, as director, I have gone back to the basics. Latin America is often times perceived by global corporations as a homogeneous country, or a package deal. Based on previous experience, I have tried to establish a closer relationship with our customers and our different markets. Instead of operating four clusters in the region, we decided to operate seven in key countries. We decided on the seven countries based on the cost benefit perspective, because you cannot operate in every market. Therefore, today we operate in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru, and Puerto Rico. This was a change because, in previous years, we had found ourselves at a remove from some of our customers in various countries with a smaller population, while leading in markets like Peru. Now, instead of operating in a cluster with Argentina, we have an individual presence there, which expedites decision-making. The most important consideration was to get closer to our customers and best meet their needs.
What are some of the specifications and advantages of Carestream's innovations such as the DRX Revolution and Cardio PACS?
Mobile x-ray, and other types of x-rays, have been on the market for many years, but lacked the functionality that users needed. Carestream reinvented the mobile x-ray such that it delivered all the features of a fixed version, but in mobile form. The analog portable x-ray machines are particularly simple, and there was a need for more advanced x-ray imaging. Today with digitalization you can upload and ensure that images are not mixed-up. There are many routine x-ray images that are rotated through rooms, but every time a picture is taken the film had to be taken into the x-ray area. Our product has reinvented the identification of x-rays, enhancing convenience, and image quality. We eliminate confusion by using barcodes specific to the image being taken.
What trends can you identify in healthcare solutions in Mexico, and what are the particularities of the Mexican market?
We use an imaging and software system that helps our customers manage their images. We have another product used as a radiology information solution. Our particularity as a company is that we first listen to the customer's needs and never provide a solution without consulting the customer first. Our systems are tailor made because there are many alternatives both in terms of technology and workload. When a customer adapts this solution they have a chance to reduce their workload. By digitizing just one part of the procedure, efficiency is greatly increased. We become partners with our customers and cooperatively introduce significant changes to their processes and changes. Workflow is something we work a lot on with our customers. Mexico is rather far ahead of the competition in Latin America, although Chile has also been pushing ahead of its regional counterparts. Mexico does not have the market risk that some other countries might have, and the majority of solutions are tailor made in-house. The advantage of our company is that our products can be tailor made for each solution.
Carestream has clients from both the private and public sectors in Mexico. Which segments have the most potential for growth?
In the majority of countries, the public sector has the most potential because our company is geared toward providing better healthcare to populations. Over recent years countries have been working to increase healthcare coverage and access to healthcare. Based on that the public sector seems to have the highest income potential. There are many alternatives that are joint alternatives to private funding for public institutions. There has to be a balance between both sectors, and we look for opportunities that will allow for that. Given the solutions we offer, and the opportunities that are presented to us, our growth stands to continue. We have many solutions, and especially DRX, which is used for making and converting an analog room into a digital one. We anticipate double-digit growth as a result of this, and in order to provide those solutions to customers we have to eliminate film. We are here to help our customers transition to a filmless solution, even if they have doubts about its possibility. Last year we grew by helping our customers transition through correct timing. Our government is increasing coverage with x-rays, which spells greater opportunity for us as more people are being treated. The number of x-rays being used has increasing because more of the population has access to treatment.
What level of growth have you seen over the past year?
We have experienced growth in the film, equipment, and software business, our three medical lines. We offer the same solutions for dental that we have for medical. Carestream serves a key market for the dental industry. We provide film and equipment solutions, and will be introducing new technology such as 3D facial reconstruction. The dental industry here does not utilize our software system as much because it tends to be smaller and more local, and does not require the level of technology that we can provide. Carestream is also involved in construction, as well as oil and gas through its non-destructive testing business. In some construction, there is the need to validate the strength of a special component that can only be evaluated through an x-ray intake. They will print the film and make sure that there is no crack or fracture. We make the film here, but it is a slow business that is evolving.
© The Business Year - May 2015