Interview with Dr Bernd Ohnesorge, President Central Europe, Middle East & Africa at Siemens Healthineers
With the healthcare environment changing for healthcare providers around the world, Siemens Healthineers aims to enable healthcare providers worldwide to achieve better outcomes at lower costs by empowering them on their journey towards expanding precision medicine, transforming care delivery, improving patient experience and digitalising healthcare, says Dr Bernd Ohnesorge, President Central Europe, Middle East & Africa at Siemens Healthineers.
A leader in medical technology, at Arab Health 2018 earlier this year, Siemens Healthineers presented its latest innovative portfolio of products and services in the company’s core areas of diagnostic and therapeutic imaging and in laboratory diagnostics.
“Arab Health is a key tradeshow for Siemens Healthineers not only in the Middle East and Africa region but also globally,” says Dr Ohnesorge. “It serves as a great platform for us to exhibit our innovations and meet key decision makers, thought-leaders and industry experts.”
In an interview with Arab Health Magazine, Dr Bernd Ohnesorge discusses the main ideas and strategies that are transforming the healthcare industry, and the innovations that Siemens Healthineers brings to the healthcare arena to meet these new challenges.
- As President Central Europe, Middle East and Africa at Siemens Healthineers, what do you think is currently driving the healthcare industry forward, both in the Middle East and Africa region and globally?
The healthcare environment is changing for healthcare providers around the world. The main trends of the business – consolidation, industrialization and managing health – affect the way decisions are made. Cost pressures and outcome orientation are dominant drivers. It is our ambition to enable healthcare providers worldwide to achieve better outcomes at lower costs by empowering them on their journey towards expanding precision medicine, transforming care delivery, improving patient experience and digitalizing healthcare.
As a leader in medical technology, we are constantly innovating our portfolio of products and services in our core areas of diagnostic and therapeutic imaging and in laboratory diagnostics and molecular medicine. In addition, we are actively developing our digital health services and enterprise services.
- What current trends do you see specifically in the UAE healthcare industry and what do you see as the growth areas going forward?
The UAE healthcare industry is continuing to develop further as healthcare has always been a prime focus for the country. Presently, one of the main pillars outlined in the country’s National Agenda – Vision 2021 – is to develop a world-class healthcare infrastructure. Reducing out-bound medical tourism, further emphasis on preventive medicine and curbing life-style diseases are some of the targeted objectives. Considering the increasing in-flux in population levels, key areas that will continue to grow are precision medicine, preventive care and improving patient experience.
- What, according to you, are the main ideas/strategies that will transform the healthcare industry of the future?
The healthcare industry is going through a transformation that’s being driven by the rapid growth of healthcare data. The number of connected devices is growing exponentially with projections that by 2020 there will be more than 50 billion smart connected devices. Despite these statistics, only 20 percent of these data are structured for use and analyzed. There’s a tremendous opportunity to tap into this data pool and create new insights and value.
New technologies have emerged to tackle these data: The Internet of Things connects devices and sensors to collect and exchange data. Big data computing analyzes large, complex stores of data to extract value. And artificial intelligence (AI) allows digital machines to sort through all the data and think, reason, and solve problems like humans do. This transformation will change the way our customers deliver care to their patients. At Siemens Healthineers we want to support our customers in tackling these changes by helping them generate, aggregate, analyze, and operationalize data.
- How important is innovation in healthcare? What are the technological, medical and strategic innovations that your company brings to the healthcare arena?
Some of the biggest challenges for healthcare delivery are to confirm the right diagnosis, make the right treatment decision for every patient, and appropriately utilize therapy resources. It is all about increasing the specificity and sensitivity of medical tests, and artificial intelligence can support this big time. What could help are integrated decision solutions that are currently being developed in the Diagnostic Imaging Business Area. They could support personalized diagnostics and treatment decisions using real-time, global, and connected datasets and enable quality and efficiency analytics. Therefore, it is important to have historical patient data as well as genomic and lab data.
The actual status of the patient – whether it is lab information, imaging information, or information from physical tests – is also important. This might even be correlated to reference data and population cohorts in order to make the right decisions along the whole pathway of care, from early diagnosis to therapy and follow-up care. But it is not just about data access. It is also about data quality assurance and data curation. There are hundreds of different algorithms we need to develop. We need to industrialize the process of deep machine learning algorithm development; otherwise, the cost will be too high. To get access to all the necessary data, building partnerships with healthcare providers worldwide will be more important than ever.
Siemens Healthineers not only offers a broad portfolio of in-vivo and in-vitro diagnostics equipment, we have also built a system to bring it all together. The Siemens Healthineers Digital Ecosystem was designed to integrate and interconnect healthcare data from imaging, in-vitro diagnostics, and medical documentation. This data is generated in one of the healthcare industry’s largest installed bases. With this Digital Ecosystem, we want to reach healthcare providers faster with our innovative services and applications.
- What new products or innovative technology did Siemens Healthineers showcase at Arab Health and MEDLAB 2018 exhibitions?
At Arab Health 2018, we showcased our latest innovations in radiology. For example, our latest mammography system Mammomat Revelation with unique 50 degree 3D HD Breast Tomosynthesis provides the highest depth resolution in tomosynthesis, and thus delivers excellent quality 3D images. Now biopsies can also be performed leveraging this wide tomosynthesis angle.
Another example is the new high-end 3 Tesla MRI scanner Magnetom Vida. It is the first scanner equipped with BioMatrix, a brand-new, innovative scanner technology that addresses inherent anatomical and physiological differences among individual patients, as well as variability among users.
Our Business Line CT range at Arab Health this year included the latest high-end single-source system Somatom Edge Plus and its innovative FAST (fully assisting scanner technologies) Integrated Workflow with the FAST 3D Camera. Using artificial intelligence and deep learning technology, the camera automatically facilitates precise and consistent isocentric positioning of patients.
We also presented nexaris Therapy Suite, a system to better integrate multi-modal imaging in surgery and interventional radiology. It provides support for precise diagnostics, intraoperative real-time imaging and direct check-up of results.
And, at MEDLAB, we prepared selected presentations of our in-vitro portfolio to show our customers our comprehensive capabilities in diagnostics. Highlights included the Atellica Solution – world’s first IVD analysers with a patented, bi-directional magnetic sample transport that is 10 times faster than conventional conveyors. Our new epoc blood gas analyser makes us the only company to enable customised testing offerings based on individual facility needs to help improve process efficiency —whether that is handheld testing, benchtop solutions or central lab applications.
- What was unique or new about the products Siemens Healthineers presented at Arab Health this year?
With increasing volumes and complexity of data from different sources and across a range of disciplines, artificial intelligence is the key to make medical technology smarter, image data and lab result analysis faster, and examinations more accurate. Now, we are starting to implement artificial intelligence more and more in our systems like Somatom Edge Plus and its FAST 3D Camera
- As a company closely associated with Arab Health for the past several years, how would you evaluate the impact of the event on the healthcare industry in the MENA region?
Arab Health is a key tradeshow for Siemens Healthineers not only in the Middle East and Africa region but also globally. It serves as a great platform for us to exhibit our innovations and meet key decision makers, thought-leaders and industry experts.
- What, according to you, are the real benefits and opportunities available to healthcare and trade professionals to attend Arab Health?
The CME-accredited conferences that run alongside the exhibition are highly-valued by healthcare professionals – continuing medical education is an important topic and a core area of focus also for Siemens Healthineers. Other than that, visitors benefit from attending the exhibition which has grown substantially over the years and presents a range of equipment and services together with the very latest innovations.
In the Spotlight
Dr Bernd Ohnesorge, President Central Europe, Middle East & Africa at Siemens Healthineers, had previously served for four years as head of the Magnetic Resonance Business Unit. Dedicated to the advancement of medical technologies, he previously held several leading positions at Siemens including the position of the head of the X-Ray Imaging Products Business Unit in 2010 and 2011 as well as the leadership position of Siemens Healthcare in China and North-East Asia from 2006 to 2010.
He joined Siemens after the completion of his master’s degree in data communication and digital signal processing at the University of Erlangen in 1994. While serving in several R&D and management positions within the Computed Tomography Business Unit between 1994 and 2006, he finished his PhD thesis on methods for cardiac CT imaging in June 2002 at the Institute of Clinical Radiology of the Ludwig-Maximilian-University in Munich, Germany.