Interview with Mr Joao Malagueira, VP, EU South, Hologic, Inc.

Global champions for women’s health

By Joao Malagueira, VP, EU South, Hologic, Inc

Hologic is one of the world’s most innovative medical technology companies and a global champion of women’s health. We advance diagnostic, detection and surgical solutions that respond to an increasingly complex and demanding global healthcare environment. Our purpose is to enable healthier lives, everywhere, every day. Within this purpose, we place special emphasis on the healthcare needs of women, and we are passionate about becoming global champions for women’s health. We also make a special promise to our customers and patients that is rooted in The Science of Sure®. The Science of Sure is about progressive certainty and is a commitment to help healthcare professionals minimize doubt and maximize the confidence they have in their decisions and diagnoses.

The COVID-19 pandemic

COVID-19 presented unprecedented challenges for everyone across the globe. As a company, we rose to this challenge developing two highly accurate molecular tests in two months compared to the normal two years. We also doubled our molecular diagnostic production in six months, a process that normally takes eight to 10 years. To date we have distributed approximately 100 million COVID tests to customers in 40 countries and installed over 2,600 Panther systems, on which these tests are processed, worldwide, resulting in the most extensive network of any high-throughput molecular diagnostics system.

The pandemic has also changed how we do business with significantly fewer face-to-face meetings. We are proud of our teams who have continued to support our customers in person as needed, but also virtually with online meetings, virtual educations sessions, one-to-one video support etc.

Artificial Intelligence

On the positive side, COVID-19 has been a catalyst for change, with concerted efforts to innovate and collaborate across country borders. There is now appetite from scientists, public health officials and governments to capitalise on this innovation and apply it to the cancer care continuum, particularly around preventative health care. On the negative side, it has led to many cervical and breast cancer screening programmes being paused or reduced, leading to a backlog of cases. This is where Artificial Intelligence (AI) and innovative diagnostic technology can assist.

For example, when used as part of a breast screening programme, AI could effectively and efficiently highlight the areas of a mammogram that are of particular interest for the radiologist reader. Based on a comparison with the average time taken to read an image without using AI, this means that 13% less time is needed to read images[i], improving the efficiency with which images are reviewed. This use of AI to review screening mammograms could mean only one reader would be required in future, effectively freeing up the time and reducing the costs associated with needing a second reader. If utilised on mobile screening units and on static units in hospitals, this technology has the potential to significantly improve existing breast screening capabilities and capacity.

There are also opportunities in cervical cancer screening with the addition of Digital Cytology offering opportunities around maximising capacity and supporting flexible workforce deployment, improving workflow prioritisation, as well as reducing real-estate and transportation costs. AI driven digital imaging allows cyto-screeners to review images remotely, meaning that images can be distributed to screeners remotely across a network, wherever there is spare capacity, speeding up the time from initial test to diagnosis. It also means that slide storage and transportation can be significantly reduced, lowering costs and the risk of damaged or lost slides. Hologic’s digital cytology system, Genius™ Digital Diagnostics System uses an AI algorithm to evaluate tens of thousands of cells from a single patient in a matter of minutes and presents the most diagnostically relevant material to a trained medical professional for final diagnosis.

Our work in the Middle East and Africa

As a company, we continue to invest in the Middle East and Africa and are keen to share our technology and solutions to healthcare professionals with the ultimate aim of improving women’s health across the region. We regularly meet our customers and distributors to discuss how we can best work with them to achieve this both now and in the future. Hologic also continues to work closely with the Ministries of Health in the key countries in the region to create health awareness programmes targeting women.

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[i] Keller B, Kshirsagar A, Smith A. 3DQuorum™ Imaging Technology. Improving radiologist performance through Artificial Intelligence and SmartSlices. WP-00152-EUR-EN Rev 001 (10/19) US/International © 2019 Hologic, Inc.