PHA Convention: lessons, competition, the rise of China and US innovation

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It was a wonderful experience and as usual there was plenty of learning for us in the recently concluded Philippine Hospital Association (PHA) convention in the SMX. Some lessons and observations:

1. There was very good response and interest to the Varian Digital Radiography system. We are very proud to be associated with a company mentioned in many circles as one of the most innovative companies on earth.

Here is something from their website:
Varian

Varian’s PaxScan® line of ultra-fast flat-panel digital X-ray image detectors are used to capture X-ray images and instantly display them on computer screens, eliminating the need for film and film processing. Varian’s panels can capture up to 60 images per second, which is fast enough to produce a moving image of a heart beating.
PaxScan Products
Imaging panels are available for medical and industrial applications, including: medical diagnostics, veterinary care, dental imaging, industrial inspection, and security.
PaxScan CBCT Software Tools
Varian Medical Systems’ commitment to Cone Beam CT applications spans more than 20 years. In addition to CBCT-enabling flat panel detectors and X-ray tubes, Varian is now providing CBCT reconstruction and processing algorithms in the form of an easy to use software toolkit: CBCT Software Tools, or CST for short. CST is designed for use with all Varian X-Ray fluoroscopic flat panel detectors. It comprises a suite of Windows-based software libraries which allow an OEM to quickly develop software that produces high quality CBCT images for medical, dental, or industrial applications.
Technology
Varian’s amorphous-silicon flat-panel image detectors for digital radiography work by converting the X rays that strike its surface into light, and then turning the light into electronic data that a computer can display as a high-quality digital image.

2. Clients and partners served well passed-by and stayed in our booths as if they found long-lost family in the mad and maddening market place of salesmen, wizards, doctors, engineers, and shamans. We know that sounds like a marketing tagline, but because medical equipment are so important to the flow and health of the community, hospitals, and businesses, “partnership” is a term hardly used, but is expected by most doctors and health organizations. Sunfu is serious about this, very serious.

3. China is really rising as an equipment manufacturer hub, and it is only a matter of time that innovation will become part of their process, as it has been part of countries that manufacture medical solutions and pharmaceuticals, like the United States and tiny Singapore. But many of the good manufacturers from China are also being punished by the market as hardly any China manufacturing company is loyal to any local distributor here. It is striking that some of the biggest China names are missing in this important convention, because dealers, customers, doctors, technicians know that this lack of loyalty eventually results in inefficiency of distribution, service, local technical capacity, and eventually relationships suffer all the way to the patients. All these local servicing take skills, knowledge, investments, courage, patience, ethics, and loyalty: partnership is a very difficult word for manufacturers, especially China manufacturers, all the more if their goal is to list in the Shanghai Stock Exchange, or worse, the the New York Stock Exchange. Then it becomes short-term planning, short-term relationships, and no local capacity building. The stock market, in the end, is not very helpful to service and innovation, although of course it is quite phenomenal in capital mobilization to be part of the global sweepstakes.

4. There seems to be two types of competitors: those who see you as enemy number 1, and everything associated with you or your company is to be avoided or condemned. And those who know this is intense, but it is also a game. We think either one can be great winners, but the latter has the best chance of improving and also enjoying, as the ultimate competition, and the ultimate cliche, is that in order to improve, one competes with oneself. Sunfu improves year-to-year, because we compete with our track record, which is certainly not perfect, but we are willing to look at ourselves truthfully and assess how we can serve our colleagues and partnerships inside and outside the company to the best of our abilities. We are harder on ourselves when we look at our failures, rather than hard on ourselves when we look at our competitors for their successes. The industry is big (even if we regularly hear of many Philippine medical equipment companies putting up the white flag due to the intensity of the competition and the incredible complexity of the market), the world even bigger: there is room for everyone.