“Leading with Innovation and Empathy”

Maher Elhassan, Vice President & General Manager, BD Middle East, North Africa & Turkey

Jihad Hussami, Business Director – BD Medication Management Solutions, Eastern Europe, Middle East & Africa

BD is a global medical technology company that is advancing the world of health by improving medical discovery, diagnostics and the delivery of care. “Hospitals” magazine had the privilege to meet with Maher Elhassan, Vice President & General Manager, BD Middle East, North Africa & Turkey and Jihad Hussami, Business Director – BD Medication Management Solutions, Eastern Europe, Middle East & Africa. Below is the full interview:

How was BD impacted in 2020? Reports say that due to work from home (WFH) and added work pressure, the mental health of the employees has been affected; has BD introduced any initiatives for its employees on this front?  

In 2020, our role as one of the largest global medical technology companies in the world became that of a first responder to the first responders. We have deployed our capabilities, expertise, and scale to address the critical health needs of the patients – through our diagnostic offerings to identify infections, to real-time informatics and electronic surveillance technology, to essential medical devices, products and solutions to support patient care. 

Our rapid response strategy in addressing the crisis by quickly mobilizing and working with urgency and purpose to react to the critical needs of the healthcare sector has also been recognized in Fortune’s Change World list in 2020.

Our foremost priority has been to ensure the health and safety of our people, their families, our customers and partners. We have always been a people-centric organization, but the last year has further strengthened our commitment to them. 

Not only are people today grappling to get accustomed to the forlorn environment but also to make sense of the newness of the work-from-home culture that has to a large extent dwindled the scales of work and life. Taking this into account we have introduced a series of initiatives that have fostered a winning culture that is conducive not only for the growth of the company but also for employees. 

Some of our key initiatives include flexible and hybrid work from home policies to ensure work-life balance, as well as regular engagement sessions with our employees to safeguard their mental health and well-being and avoid burnout and stress. Added to that is a wealth of resources on mental wellbeing and a 24/7 Employee Assistance Program providing our associates and their families counselling for emotional and psychological support as well as practical guidance on legal, financial, family and work matters.

We will continue to stand by our people to safeguard them and to take care of their needs. Our mission to advance the world of health is only achieved through our people – who remain at the centre of everything we do. 

What has been the impact on the medical device industry in 2020? Are there any specific hurdles that the companies will have to overcome?

Catastrophes always bring to the forefront both challenges and opportunities. In testing times, it is imperative to put our people and customers at the core of everything we do.  

The medical technology industry plays a vital role in any crisis. The industry is at a vantage point due to the surge in demand and increased awareness about health,  the present situation also highlights the fact that medical technology needs to be trusted, it should be effective and affordable. We believe these are some of the challenges that the medical sector will have to resolve while making sure that the wellbeing and safety of healthcare workers and patients is not compromised at any point. 

That’s one of the many areas that we’re focused on. At BD, we strive to sustain a culture of safety, promoting patient and healthcare workers safety across the entire journey, implementing safe, innovative, and optimized technology. Moreover, we’re also bringing innovation to the market to drive automation and efficiency, thus helping to reduce medication errors and to enhance the productivity of caregivers. 

In your opinion, what are the key trends that are complementing the growth story of the healthcare industry in the UAE?

Market research projects that the UAE’s healthcare sector will experience growth of around 10% on a compounded annual basis during the 2019-2023 period. The government’s healthcare strategy coupled with increased awareness are confirmed growth drivers for the industry. The country is also investing extensively in upgrading the healthcare system to match world-class standards. This signifies an improvement in the quality of patient care leading to a resilient medical ecosystem in the country. The emergence of technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), cloud and internet of things (IoT) is giving birth to new trends in the healthcare sector leading to high optimization of the digital infrastructure. 

With an increased focus on digitalization, the regulators are leaving no stone unturned to encourage private sector companies to expand and upgrade their infrastructure to be able to elevate the quality of services offered. Medical device companies and Medtech, in general, have a vital role in this journey. According to forecasts by Statista, the market for medical devices in the UAE will grow to a value of AED 4.9 Billion by the end of 2021.

BD’s strategy and vision for increasing medication safety and facilitating an error-free experience to patients and medical professionals are in line with the government’s plan for the healthcare industry and will certainly make a difference in enhancing the healthcare landscape in the country.

How do you think will the new normal shape businesses in the future?

Today, companies are left with not much choice but to adapt to the changing trends in the business. On the other hand,  the year 2020 has witnessed the birth of various business-enabling opportunities that will scale up in the months to come,  and will eventually thrive and benefit the economy. 

This decade is going to see a boom in the healthcare sector with increased demand and accessibility. Medical technology will play a crucial role in building the healthcare sector’s resilience and new strategies. Businesses will not only need to continue to work in tandem to be sustainable, but will also have to transform digitally. The old ”one-size-fits-all” approach may not work anymore. Agile, personalized, and individualized product propositions will gain momentum and factors like empathy and compassion will set the growth tone for a company. 

How is BD planning to establish a culture of safety via medication management solutions? 

The global medication management system (MMS) market size is expected to reach USD 5.97 billion by 2025 at a CAGR of 20.5%. There has been a rise in the volume of medical transactions, the number of prescriptions generated, processes and more; all accommodated by the short-staffed medical professionals. The situation underlines the fact that there is no room for error and an alarming need for technological innovations.

BD is known to be at the forefront in adopting advanced technology to be able to deliver better patient and medical professional experience. BD MMS offers a variety of solutions, some prominent ones would include Infusion and IV therapy systems, software, infusion pumps, bi-directional interoperability, and automated solutions from the hospital pharmacy to the patient’s bed. 

BD developed technology that communicates IV infusion data to the Health Information System (HIS) partners and the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) vendors allowing the innovative IV pump modules to offer expanded future capabilities to ensure the system is consistently kept up-to-date, through wireless connectivity.

Thanks to the consolidated workflows offered by BD, the inventory of medicines is managed efficiently providing immense support to patient care ensuring medicines are available when they are needed. A central view of inventory, orders and usage across the health organization helps to effectively manage medication availability. Optimizing inventory for pharmacy, improving nurse productivity, and increase in the time for patient care together help achieve better clinical, technical and operational benefits.  

How is BD’s medication management system going to impact the healthcare sector?

BD MMS (Medication Management System) primarily addresses Infusion & Dispensing, which are complex and error-prone processes. Gaps in communication, and lack of visibility between steps, can contribute to higher risks for medication errors, and can lead to increasingly higher costs in unreported diversion, and annual wastes. We intend to: 

  • Support our customers in their journey to unify medical records across all healthcare sectors so that data can be used and made available whenever required
  • Standardize electronic medical records including information from pharmacy and labs, making data easily accessible
  • Promote the adoption of regulations to mandate reporting of medication errors and infections, including antimicrobial usage

We are keen to know how BD responded to the evolving critical needs of the healthcare systems and patients last year? How were resources and efforts optimized to match the same?

We observed that last year our capabilities were tested as well as enhanced, we extended our expertise and scale to address the critical health needs of the patients. A few of our initiatives are as follows:

  • Due to rapid change in the healthcare landscape, there was a need for upskilling and re-skilling on infection control practices. BD equipped the medical staff involved in direct patient care including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and laboratory technicians with digital learning tools and training in infection prevention. 
  • BD improved its inventory management system to ensure the availability and safe administration of medicines. As researchers moved into clinical trials, we developed a full suite of medication delivery devices to meet the needs of each potential drug. We also increased the supply of systems such as medication management, infusion pumps and sets, IV access, IV Care and maintenance, Foley Catheters, as well as surveillance and analytics to support patient management.
  • We have stepped up the response to the needs of communities through our philanthropic and volunteering activities. BD and the BD Foundation have issued nearly $2.5 million in philanthropic grants and product donations to non-profit organizations that are working to protect the most vulnerable communities and individuals from the pandemic’s spread and negative impacts. A recent example is our donation of products worth $900,000 via the NGO, Anera, to support the disaster response in Beirut, Lebanon, following the tragic explosion that took place last year.

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