HEALTHIER LIVES

Mexico 2019 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Patricia Nakagawa, Managing Director of Olympus America de México, on health industry trends, market share, and healthcare policy in Mexico.

What are the main trends in the health industry impacting Olympus America de México's business at the moment?

The challenge has always been improving the preventive side of diseases. But there are successes. In the US, for example, the number of people who have survived colon cancer is now at 1 million. We can aim for such prevention in Mexico. Now in its 100th year, Olympus has built its business on imaging and now is branching out into therapeutics, so that with the good visualization our scopes offer, doctors can now also insert devices—from snares to balloons to valves and more—for new and exciting minimally invasive procedures.

What is Olympus America de México's star product?

At present, our 4KUHD System—an endoscopy visualization and display system that provides four times more information than conventional Full HD imaging systems—has had the biggest impact. The difference between our and other 4K products in the market is our imaging technology. Starting from the endoscope and going all the way to the screen, we have 4K resolution. Other products in the market do not have 4K resolution. Olympus Corporation established a joint venture with Sony, and this venture has helped us continue to develop better products. Our 4K imaging product uses a 55-inch screen, so one truly feels like one is looking into the body. This means one has a better chance at viewing even the tiniest lesions, which is extremely important for specialists in these fields. It is truly a great tool for doctors, and they are extremely enthusiastic about the detail they can see in the images our product produces.

What other areas would Olympus America de México like to expand into?

We need to reach every single doctor. We started with major private and public hospitals; however, our goal is to reach every doctor and even the smallest hospitals, because there are needs in other regions outside the main cities that we need to cover. We are working to increase our participation and knowledge around the country and our installed base. At the moment we are looking at how to group smaller regions together to create a market that is more attractive to enter. Our go-to-market strategy is key in such a situation, and we must also decide whether we want to sell directly or have a presence in an area through a partner, such as a distributor. The challenge is having the right people who can have the technical discussions with the doctors about the benefits of our products and be supportive with all the added value we provide as a company.

How will the new administration's plans for healthcare in Mexico impact your business?

The beauty of the products we promote at Olympus America de México is that they can be used for prevention as well as the treatment of existing medical conditions. We keep hearing that the new government will focus on primary care, which is important for detecting and identifying diseases early. We also hear the new administration will focus on the level of the general hospital rather than on higher level specialties. This administration has been vocal in terms of finding savings, so the business models governments have used in the past need to be adapted. Recent models have focused on more cash flow in the healthcare system to treat more patients. That is a great model, and we do not know how it will be improved or modified by the new government. In regards to our public-sector customers, integrated services were an important part of our business alignment, and we have to wait and see how this system changes. Another consideration is budget allocation.

What factors brought Olympus to establish an alliance with Sony?

The excellence of Sony displays combined with Olympus' superior ability to capture images made the alliance very natural. We have projects with Sony in the medical field that have been extremely successful. Olympus Corporation has also made some acquisitions, such as Image Stream and Spiration. There are also changes happening across the company that reflect its global nature, including people from different disciplines and nationalities being promoted to the leadership team at the executive level. This is an interesting time for the company. We have frequent visits from our colleagues in other regions, as Mexico is an important market for Olympus. Our responsibility is to present the opportunities available in Mexico and the benefits of being so close to the US. Mexico is a great strategic location globally and is moving toward being a stronger democracy. I am hopeful that we as a corporation can support this new government to improve the economy and the country's credibility. This is part of our responsibility as well.

What is Olympus America de México's current market share, and what are your goals for 2019?

Globally, in the endoscopy business Olympus has around 70% of the market because we are pioneers in this field. In Mexico, unfortunately, we do not have reliable hard data on our share of the market. Olympus had to retreat from the market for a while because of the tough economic situation in 2012. The situation is improving, though. We recently renewed our strategy with a focus to re-enter the market directly and to leverage our position. We are well recognized in the market and have truly re-positioned ourselves. In addition to introducing new products, being close to our customers and end users is extremely important. We want them to understand the safe and effective uses of our technology and related procedures. At Olympus, we are committed to contributing to society by making people's lives healthier, safer, and more fulfilling. That is our story.