What we can do to stay healthy and liver longer

What we can do to stay healthy and liver longer

Posted by: on Jul 10, 2018 | No Comments

Since all of us at Diaverum are focusing on the wellbeing of our close to 35 000 patients around the world, it is sometimes worthwhile to stop and think about how we can stay healthy. Life is short and we all want to have as long and healthy a life as possible. Wherever I travel in the world I see a lot of people who are out of shape, weigh far too much and have little energy.

The question is what we can do ourselves to stay healthy and thereby live longer.

As always there is no single factor but rather a combination of factors which contribute to increasing the likelihood of staying healthy. When it comes to eating, we all know that obesity is an enormous problem in many countries around the world. Overweight and obesity are major risk factors for a number of chronic diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

According to WHO, the prevalence of obesity among adults (obesity defined as BMI of 30 or higher) has increased globally from 10.7% in 2008 to 13.1% in 2016. There are today a number of countries with a prevalence of more than 30%: USA, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Libya, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, New Zealand and Israel. A large number of countries are very close to the 30% mark.

When it comes to eating, volumes of books have been written about diets. Seemingly, just after everyone rushes to try these diets, someone issues a study saying that the diet does not work or is not very healthy. Very frustrating indeed.

I believe in “moderation”. Not to “over-eat” and to eat a variety of foods. The only way to lose weight is to eat fewer calories than one burns. There is no miracle cure! Every time I need to lose a few kilos, I start eating less. That is normally enough to lose some weight.

As regards exercising, volumes of books have also been written about various exercise regimes. The key thing is to move. Walking, as an example, strengthens our hearts, increases bone density and builds endurance.

Taking 10,000 daily steps means one has walked about five miles or 9 kilometers. Many people do not get close to reaching this goal, which is why fitness trackers can be so useful. According to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), the average person only walks between 3,000 and 4,000 steps per day.

Sleep is also important. Sleep is the time when our body recovers and when our immune systems are improved. A study conducted by the American Cancer Society concluded that people who sleep less than 6 or more than 9 hours per night had a death rate 30% higher than those who regularly slept 7 to 8 hours.

So, the conclusion is: we all need to eat sensibly, exercise regularly and sleep 7 to 9 hours per night. This will increase the likelihood of living a healthier life.


Creating a culture of innovation

Creating a culture of innovation

Posted by: on May 28, 2018 | No Comments

I have been participating in a couple of interesting meetings and conferences over the last few weeks. In Sweden, the Saudi Sweden Joint Business Council (where Diaverum is a member) met early May. I participated in a panel debate about “creating a culture of innovation in healthcare”. In my introduction, I talked briefly about the global trends in healthcare. As we all know healthcare is already today facing and will continue to face 3 major challenges;

  • Patients
    There will be a “tsunami” of patients. The global population increases by approximately 80 million each year and the population is rapidly ageing. Many patients will suffer from chronic diseases and very often from more than one chronic disease. Patients are also expecting more from healthcare delivery and one real challenge is that most health systems are stuck in an old model of provision.
  • Staff
    There is an increasing shortage of healthcare professionals around the world. There is simply not enough interest in becoming a healthcare professional. In many countries there are more nurses leaving than entering the work force. There is today a global shortage of healthcare workers of 7.2m, this is projected to grow to 12.9m by 2035.
  • Costs
    75% of healthcare spend in Western World is on chronic disease management. As the number of patients with chronic diseases increases, the pressure on public finances grows. In many countries healthcare spend continues to outstrip GDP growth. This is of course not sustainable.

Innovative care models

With the shortage of healthcare professionals, combined with the escalation of number of patients and increased focus on chronic disease management it is clear that we will have to find ways to ensure improved patient outcomes and patient experience using less resources. This is of course a major challenge but I am sure that technology combined with innovation and digitalization will support this ambition.

Changing the care model is not a “quick fix” and will require significant investments in IT and it is also clear that there will be not only one care model for kidney patients. We will continue to work with different models in different countries even if I believe that care models will become more aligned over time.

The healthcare service companies which manage to improve patient outcomes and patient experiences at the same time as they manage to reduce overall cost to serve will be the winning companies in the future. As I said above, healthcare spend cannot continue to escalate in the same way as has been the case in the past.

In year 2016, the US spent nearly 18% of its GDP on health, whereas the next highest comparable country (Switzerland) devoted less than 13% of its GDP to health. Average in Europe is just below 10%.

Innovations down under

Posted by: on Sep 15, 2015 | No Comments

I am back from vacation and many of my colleagues in Europe have either had their summer vacations or are starting vacations now. It is important to get some rest and to recharge one’s batteries and also to be able to spend some time with family and friends. But even if Europeans have been on holiday, activity levels in Diaverum, the company that I am heading, has been very high. We have just opened our second clinic in the capital of Australia, Canberra. By doing so, we are bringing care closer to the patients – which is, especially in a country the size of Australia, quite a challenge. We are using innovative technologies to reach the patients that are living far away from a dialysis centre, for example with our d.CARE App. Whilst apps themselves are not really innovative anymore, apps in the healthcare sector still are a rarity. The challenge is adhering to data security regulations, which are different in each country, whilst responding to the patients’ needs to get access to their data – to be able to take an active role in their health. Innovations are crucial in the healthcare market and we will continue to explore innovations related to apps, telemedicine, etc. These innovations can improve quality of life for the patients which is the ultimate goal of all the activities we undertake. The d.CARE App is improving the quality of life for the patients in Australia, which was selected as the pilot country. We are now looking forward to rolling the App out in more countries to more patients shortly. Maybe one of these countries will even be New Zealand, where we will open our first clinic during early 2016.

The secret of success: Listen to your patients

Posted by: on Apr 17, 2015 | No Comments

As CEO, my task is to lead the company into the future. No matter how long one has been in business, one can never rest on ones laurels for too long. Securing the future is the main responsibility of any CEO. Quite often I think about what success really means and how it can be used to influence. There are many books about this topic but you can only really understand it when looking at reality. Here is a current case that serves as a good example to me.

A few weeks ago I joined the official inauguration of our four new renal centres in Birmingham, UK and it was one of the days that made me feel very proud. Our UK team had transferred 450 patients to four newly built dialysis centres in the course of only one day — a mammoth task that ended very successfully thanks to great support from colleagues from different parts of the world who travelled to Birmingham to be part of this team effort.

Talking to our patients and our staff in the new clinics it was clear that the secret behind this success story was the fact that we listened to the needs of our patients. The team only had a few months to prepare the move, but during that time they were in a constant dialogue with their future patients and also future members of staff. They asked the patients questions such as “What is important for you to feel secure in the clinic?”, “What makes it a revitalising experience?”, “ How do you want to work in the new environment?” The UK team then frequently showed what the patients asked for (“you said”) and how Diaverum turned these ideas around (“we did”). And this approach — you said, we did — paid off resulting in highly satisfied patients that put their trust in Diaverum from day one and motivated employees delivering the best service to the patients. We managed to create a win-win situation and a successful base in Birmingham from which we will continue to grow the business and secure strong financial performance as a consequence of working closely with patients and staff to deliver the very best patient care and work environment.

That is an example of what success means for me.



Future challenges require firm leadership

Posted by: on Dec 12, 2014 | No Comments

Predicting the future is almost impossible and it takes strong, firm leadership to turn challenges into opportunities.

When I did my MBA at INSEAD many years ago, one of my professors told me that the only way to predict the future is by looking at the past — there is no such thing as a crystal ball which tells the future.

This might sound a little simplistic and maybe even brutal but this is the way things are.

Take trying to predict currency movements, stock market development, economic cycles, for example: all predictions are simply assumptions and these assumptions are typically based on past experience.

The likelihood is that someone will guess correctly but this is down to luck and experience rather than an ability to look into the future.

Who could foresee the economic meltdown in the Eurozone starting in 2008? Who would predict that the euro as a currency would come under threat? Who could predict that oil prices would plunge the way they have done lately? Who could predict that the tension in Russia and Ukraine would bring us back to the ‘Cold War sentiment’ where Russia once more was cast as the enemy?

Since nobody can predict the future it is important to listen to the views of many different people.

When running a global healthcare services company with presence in 18 countries, the only thing  that is (almost) certain is that there will be macroeconomic challenges in one or a few of these countries at any given time. We have seen the Russian rouble, Argentinian peso and Turkish lira plunge during the year; we have seen signs of recovery in Spain and Portugal; and we have seen the impact the falling oil price has had on the economies of Saudi Arabia and Russia.

What will happen in 2015 which we are not able to predict today? Will there be a sustainable economic recovery in Europe in 2015? Probably not. Will oil prices increase again to 100-plus dollars per barrel? Probably not. Will the situation in Syria and Iraq improve or will IS continue to seize more territory? Probably yes.

Will something significant happen in the world in 2015 which we cannot predict today? Definitely yes.

What are the implications for business in all this uncertainty? One thing which I always have believed in and which is going to be important for the foreseeable future is to manage cash flow as well as one possible can. Cash is king (or queen). This is for any company the most important measure of financial success. A company with strong cash flow will always fare better than a company not focusing strongly on cash flow.

I believe that any company today also needs to have mitigation plans ready to be implemented in case country performance is much lower than planned. To sit back and accept that performance goes down without implementing strong measures is nothing that shareholders or private equity owners appreciate. What we know is that shocks to the system do happen much quicker today than before due to increased volatility and shorter cycles. Therefore any successful organisation must always be prepared to mitigate, face the problem and turn it into an opportunity.

Strong leadership from the top is a prerequisite for success. Management by objectives and delegation is something I have practiced in all leading positions I have had, but one must always keep a firm hand on the steering wheel and be prepared to act quickly whenever things do go wrong. And the only thing we can be certain about is that things will go wrong. The only question is where, when and what the magnitude will be. Being prepared will help you turn these challenges into an opportunity and come out as a winner! There will be many losers in tomorrow’s world and a few winners. Which category do you want to belong to?

Foto på Dag Andersson