Impressions from our clinics in Kazakhstan

Posted by: on Oct 9, 2015 | No Comments

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit one of our clinics in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Almaty is the largest city in the country but not the capital city (Astana is the capital). I had the chance to spend time with patients and staff in the clinic and I could see the improvements taking place since we acquired the clinic at the beginning of the year. Medical performance has clearly improved, the patients are more satisfied and the staff also sees the benefit of working for a global healthcare provider with a clear focus on the patient and the care provided.

Kazakhstan is one of the largest countries in the world, but has only 17.5 million inhabitants. With a land area of 2.7 million m² the population density is one of the lowest in the world. ESRD (end stage renal disease) prevalence is also very low: 225 per million inhabitants. There are today 4,100 patients in the country and this number is growing at double digit rate every year. The increasing patient numbers also pose another challenge: there are too few nephrologists in the country, too few to even care for the existing number of patients. Why is that the case? Is the role of a nephrologist not attractive in Kazakhstan and what can we do to change that? We might want to look into other countries, learn from their experiences and adapt those models to Kazakhstan, to ensure that the renal patients continue to receive the best treatment from trained nephrologists.

Going evermore global

Posted by: on Aug 5, 2014 | No Comments

This summer has so far been absolutely wonderful in Sweden. I have never experienced so many sunny, warm days in my life (at least from what I remember). Day temperatures of 30 degrees or even more; night time temperatures of 20 degrees or more. Apparently a ‘tropical’ night is defined as a night when temperatures do not fall below 20 degrees, and there have been quite a few of these nights this year in Sweden.

As many of you know, I am now based in Sweden and spend a large part of my time commuting to the corporate office in Munich or beyond. My wife and daughter wanted to move back to Sweden again after five years in Munich. My daughter wanted to go to a ‘normal’ Swedish school in the area where we live just outside Gothenburg. My wife wanted to get closer to her parents who are getting older and wanted to see their only child on a more regular basis. Therefore we moved back last summer to Gothenburg. I do believe there was initial angst amongst the Diaverum people in the Munich corporate office that I would not spend much time in Munich anymore but I believe I have proven people wrong. But as the company continues to grow and enters new markets, there is more need for me to be travelling around the world. This means spending less time in Munich (and in Sweden).

We are growing very fast as a company. By the end of this year we will be 9000 employees and present in 20 or 21 countries. As far as I know, there is no other healthcare service provider in the world with a more global direct presence than Diaverum. I obviously do not include product manufacturers in this statement, only 100% service only providers. Renal care is a rather standardised segment within healthcare and therefore easier to globalise than, for example, acute care. A renal patient has the same overall needs whether he is a patient in Sweden, UK, Russia or Uruguay. Therefore there are clear economies of scale and scope when entering new markets.

One of the challenges when entering a new market is to find the right people to recruit (management and clinic staff). Typically we enter a new market by acquiring one clinic or a few clinics belonging to a private owner. Finding an excellent Country Manager or Finance Director for a small business is naturally a challenge. Excellent people do typically already have a job and they are seldom prepared to move to a smaller company or business. So what we need to offer is the international opportunities and growth opportunities in general which we can offer as a company. As we grow in a country we increasingly attract top talent. In a few instances we have acquired larger businesses and then it is of course much easier to attract top talent from early on.

Another solution to offset the challenge of attracting top talent in the beginning of a market entry is to use our own managers from another country or countries to spend a certain amount of time in the new country. This would secure that integration of new clinics, recruitment of staff, introduction of medical and financial procedures are successfully implemented.

Every year we enter one new market (at least) and I find it absolutely fascinating and a great learning experience to acquire businesses in countries where there is a great need to grow renal capacity and improve the quality of care of the patients. There are enormous differences between good and bad providers and the impact this has on the patients is also huge.

Renal patients are chronic patients. A renal patient is a renal patient for life. There is no cure, no way back. What one can do is to help the patient to choose the very best treatment therapy (in-centre dialysis or home dialysis) and possibly delay the entry in dialysis whenever we can work preventively with patients who have damaged kidneys but where the kidney is still functioning to a certain degree.

This is what we do at Diaverum — and will continue to do evermore globally.

My favourite cities

Posted by: on Oct 24, 2013 | No Comments

I have the privilege of visiting many countries and cities mostly in connection with work. Many times I make the visits short to be efficient and to be able to get home and spend time with my family, but sometimes I do get a few hours to get to know the city or surrounding areas.

I sometimes get the question: ‘Which is your favourite city and/or favourite country?’

This is very hard to answer. I think that one, in order to truly enjoy being in a city or country, has to speak the language. When you visit a country where one does not speak the language, how enjoyable is it?

Yes, many people speak English and this is somehow becoming the global language which everybody wants to learn. The problem with English is that very few non-native speakers actually speak the language without sounding like a foreigner.

For example, if a non-native English speaker speaks English with, say, a German then both are disadvantaged because one can never express oneself freely.

I have been fortunate in the sense that I have been given the opportunity to learn a number of languages and speak quite a few rather well. This has definitely helped me, not only to get to where I am today, but also to enjoy the visits to different countries and cities more.

Coming back to the question about favourite countries or cities. I will mention a few cities I truly like and justify why I like the city.

1. Madrid — it is a great city. The capital of Spain and very Spanish. I like the old town, the Barrio Salamanca, Parque del Retiro and many other places. People are generally friendly and they know how to enjoy life. My favourite shoe shop in the world is also located in Madrid: LG Gloria Castellanos on Gran Via. I have bought shoes there since I was 20 years old. Definitely helps to Speak Spanish in Madrid even if many Spaniards today speak English. It is a genuine city and feels like a grand capital. Favourite restaurant in the city is Astrid y Gaston (Peruvian food at its best).

2. London — the most global city in the world. Everyone and everything accepted. London is just nice to be in. Great restaurants, museums, theatres, shopping. Something for everybody all year round. I spend a lot of time in London and I can never get enough! London simply has everything. Yes, it is crowded and infrastructure could be improved but all this is quickly forgotten when arriving in London (assuming that you do arrive and not get caught by congestion at Heathrow, bad weather, etc). My favourite restaurant in London is Hakkasan (in two locations, but choose Hanway Place).

3. Gothenburg — my home town. Always in the shadow of Stockholm but a nice and friendly city. Small (1 million with suburbs) but you have everything you need. Wonderful restaurants, great cafes, art galleries, theatres, opera, etc. I like the area surrounding Linnegatan very much and the old town called Haga and I like the sea and the smell of the sea. The sunset in Gothenburg is quite unbeatable. You can never get that in Stockholm which is a great city but located on the east coast. Gothenburg is home to many up and coming clothing brands (incl Nudie, Monki and Elvine just to mention a few). My favourite restaurant in the city is Thörnströms, a guide Michelin starred restaurant with great food.

4. Munich — this is where I have my office. The head office of Diaverum is in Lund but the management works out of Munich. We have our office in the downtown area of Munich. The third largest city in Germany and the most affluent. It feels much smaller than Berlin or Hamburg. In Munich it truly helps to speak German. If you do not speak German you will not enjoy Munich as much as when you do speak German. I like the fact that there are no high rise building allowed. The Frauenkirche (Cathedral) is the tallest building and will remain so. Munich has something for everybody: the Brandhurst Art Museum, the three Pinakoteken (also art) and the Englischer Garten (which is larger than New York’s Central Park) are musts when visiting the city. A favourite restaurant of mine in the city is Osteria Italiana, the most genuine Italian restaurant in the city.

5. Santiago de Chile — has become a world city in the last 15 years. Infrastructure is great compared with other Latin American cities. The airport is well connected and you have the mountains and ski resorts less than an hour away. The climate is great — never too hot or too cold. Santiago has increasingly become the first point of entry into Latin America for many foreign brands. H&M opened their first Lat Am store earlier this year in Santiago. Chile has had one of the fastest economic growth rates in the world during the last 25 years and this is clearly visible when visiting Santiago de Chile. A favourite restaurant of mine in the city is Astrid y Gaston (Peruvian food).

There are, of course, many other nice cities but this is my immediate list.

Dag

Keeping energy levels high – even though you’ve just crossed six time zones

Keeping energy levels high – even though you’ve just crossed six time zones

Posted by: on Jul 4, 2011 | One Comment

– Once I had a very important meeting in London with ten hours of presentations ahead of me. I arrived at my hotel the night before, longing to go to bed after a long day. That night turned out to be a true nightmare. Every now and then, the entire room started trembling. Since I was in a dazed and sleepy state, I first thought it was an earth quake – until I realized my room was next to the elevator shaft! That night I basically got no sleep at all, and the next day was dreadful. Since that experience I plan all my trips meticulously and well ahead.

Business travelling is about work. That means there is no time for being tired. You have to be mentally present many hours a day. You have to be efficient. You have to get to know new people – and most of all, you need to enjoy what you are doing. However, achieving a high level of energy is an art, especially if you have just crossed the ocean, and many time zones.

Stick to your routines. Live as if you would back home, no matter where you are. That is my key to success on the road. These are my four must-do-routines.

Stick to a healthy diet
Elaborate business dinners and greasy hotel breakfasts can quickly undermine any attempt to a healthy diet. Expanding the waistline is easily done, but not a very good idea if you want to enjoy a long and healthy life. Breakfast is important to me and definitely should not remind me of my time in military service (which it surprisingly often does even at some highly priced hotels.) A good breakfast simply makes a wonderful start of the day. Healthy food, in reasonable amounts and at regular hours is essential – even in countries like Spain where supper rarely is served until late hours.

Put on those jogging shoes
I generally travel light, but in my suitcase I always have room for a pair of training shoes. Before booking any hotel I make sure there is a good jogging track nearby or at least access to a gym. Going for a forty minute run makes miracles.

Keep a positive frame of mind
I try not to think too much about jet lag. If you think about jet lag and its possible consequences on your mental state you will for sure get jet lagged. If I land in Latin America in the evening I go to bed at night, just like everybody else. I simply adapt wherever I go. Once I arrived in Sydney, Australia, in the morning after an overseas trip. Instead of plunging into bed (and that is really what I felt like doing right then) I put on my jogging shoes and got back refreshed to continue the day.

Choose your hotel wisely
I carefully select the hotels that I stay in. I generally prefer smaller (small to me means less than 100 rooms) and family owned hotels. Before arriving, I ensure the hotel is well aware of my preferences when it comes to choice and location of room. One should not have to use ear plugs when paying a large sum of money to sleep.

Tripadvicer.com is an excellent source of information. I read it in order to find out what previous guests have written about a specific hotel and several times it has actually stopped me from making a reservation.

A last advice is never to accept a room on the top floor. This lesson I did learn after staying on the 40th floor at a hotel in Singapore. In the middle of the night all alarms suddenly went off. This time it actually was a fire, and not the elevator. After having sprinted down 40 stories three a clock in the morning I decided from then on to always request a room “not at the top”.

Foto på Dag Andersson