Javier Martín Martínez loves meeting people – and travel. Both were previously part of his everyday life as Senior Market Manager at Telekom Healthcare Solutions. But fearing that he would no longer be allowed to visit his family during a lockdown, he now works from his home near Madrid. And is surprised himself how well it’s working: From home, he advises clinics in Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia In this interview, the Spaniard talks about the rapid changes in the healthcare industry, international differences and a technological dinosaur, the fax machine, that digitalization has so far passed by almost without a trace in many places.
Javier Martín Martínez: Surprisingly well. Even though working from home is a really big change for me. Normally I work in Berlin and I travel a lot for my job. Now that the coronavirus cases are rising rapidly again, I’m happy to be with my family in Madrid. I was already separated from my wife and three children for a long time at the beginning of the year due to the pandemic. That does not have to happen again. I can easily reach colleagues and customers via chat and video conference. Fortunately, the transfer of knowledge does not depend on being on site.
Javier Martín Martínez: No, I don't think so. As soon as it’s possible again, I will also start making appointments with customers abroad again. The switch to the virtual has gone so smoothly because I already know most of my contacts personally. It will be difficult to break the ice with potential new customers just on a video call. However, the past few weeks have shown me that I don't have to conduct every conversation on site. I think it's great to meet people from different countries and cultures. But I don't miss long flights, traffic jams, and jet lag at all. I will also be considering my CO2 footprint more carefully in the future.
Javier Martín Martínez: As an international business expert, I mainly support our teams in Europe and Latin America in expanding the healthcare business there. Among other things, this involves developing country-specific strategies, drawing up business plans, and determining which investments are necessary. If my colleagues need on-site customer support, I attend consulting appointments, give presentations, and introduce IT solutions such as iMedOne or SAP Patient Management. In this way, I'm there from the very beginning, learn what our customers need, and am involved in the development of the final solution.
Javier Martín Martínez: At the beginning of my career, it was common practice to digitalize individual hospitals. In the late 1990s, for example, I was involved in implementing a hospital information system (HIS) and Electronic Medical Record (EMR) at the renowned Hospital Clínic Barcelona. Such Isolated Hospital implementations rarely happen today in EU. Our customers are large hospital corporations such as Insel Gruppe AG Switzerland, Generalitat - Institut Català de la Salut or Raffles Medical Group in Singapore, The aim is to network hospitals in a whole region or even an entire country.
Javier Martín Martínez: That’s right. Whereas in the past we had a single contact person on the customer side, today we have to get many decision-makers on board. The classic client-to-provider implementation, whereby we merely get the technology up and running at the customer's site, no longer works in the healthcare sector: our customers expect us to work in partnership with them and have special knowledge of hospital processes as well as the interaction with other Medical technology providers. And to do so increasingly quickly. Whereas projects used to be measured in years, today we plan in days, at most in weeks. Let's take a prominent example that fascinates me: Corona-Warn-App. Here, Deutsche Telekom worked with a wide range of stakeholders – and after just 50 days, the app was up and running.
Javier Martín Martínez: There are big differences in the degree of digitalization. Spain, for example, is much better here than its reputation: My home country is currently making headlines mainly because of high coronavirus infection rates. It’s easy to overlook the fact that we are one of the European countries that have digitalized their healthcare systems the most. While in Germany, even fax machines and paper-based workflows are still being used sometimes clinics for data protection reasons, in Spain the digitalization of hospitals is almost complete. Customers here are asking more and more for medical outcomes based on big data and analytics as we are doing in the implementation of Electronic Medical Records such as iMedOne or i.s.h.med: this helps draw conclusions from collected data or solutions to enable patients to better self-manage chronic diseases as an example. In Latin America, for example, the situation is completely different: Here, paper-based workflows and fax machines will only stop being used once the region has caught up in terms of digital infrastructure.
Javier Martín Martínez: In addition to the data analysis I just mentioned and the associated use of artificial intelligence, I see great opportunities for the future in telemedicine. Chatting with the doctor from a sick bed instead of sitting in a crowded waiting room is a good alternative, not only in times of COVID-19. This will help patients in sparsely populated regions in particular to receive reliable medical care. For me, this also includes being able to obtain prescriptions online. This is now a reality in many European countries – and will also be coming to Germany soon.
Javier Martín Martínez: That diseases do not stop at borders and that we need to cooperate much more across borders. Digitalization will play a major role in this. In the healthcare sector, there are already worldwide standards for codes and the structure of databases. This will help us in the future to develop solutions from which we will all benefit. It is helpful to have experts with international know-how on board.