Q: What opportunities emerged during the pandemic, given the nature of the products that you offer?
A: We saw an accelerated business curve between 2020 and 2021. There was a large need for products related to respiratory therapy, which is an area we manage. We identified many opportunities and contributed to equip and supply public and private hospitals. The challenge was acquiring products and maintaining costs because prices increased, especially for face masks and wound dressing materials. We did not increase prices, which was challenging given the larger costs of freight rates and fluctuations in the dollar exchange rate, among other issues. However, the pandemic also taught us many lessons.
Q: What changes are you deploying after the pandemic?
A: During the pandemic, many industries saw fewer sales but now that the crisis is under control, consumption is returning to normal. The return to normal left us with the installations we built during those years, giving us space to grow. However, the space is now more costly and sales have contracted, impacting the company's profitability. The pandemic also resulted in some good outcomes, such as the remote work model, which we maintained after the crisis. The challenge now lies in information management and cybersecurity. Staff productivity has been maintained thanks to a results-oriented culture.
Q: How relevant is your anesthesiology offering in the post-pandemic era?
A: During the pandemic, the demand for anesthesia dropped considerably because many surgeries had to be postponed. But last year, there was a breakthrough in anesthesia. Last year was good for us in anesthesia but respiratory therapy, our main business line, saw fewer sales than expected. We are seeing a similar trend this year: growth in the anesthesia business and stagnation in the respiratory therapy business.
Q: How does UCIN Médica stay up to date to offer its clients the latest advancements in medical devices technology?
A: We are a platform through which hospitals can find all the necessary innovations in respiratory therapy and anesthesia in Mexico. We follow different international forums to keep up with innovation, mainly in the EU, the US, Israel and China. The challenge is to make ourselves visible so clients can find us and make innovation a reality in the country.
Q: What factors have you identified that prevent Mexican hospitals from acquiring the latest technology in medical devices?
A: Regulation is the main obstacle, specifically COFEPRIS’ procedures. The process to list a product in Mexico is long and tortuous, requiring a great deal of time, money and effort. This situation puts Mexico’s health sector several years behind that in the US, the EU and other regions. Mexico’s health sector often works with outdated versions of the product other countries use.
Medical devices are regulated alongside the pharmaceutical industry. While the latter is highly regulated, some medical devices do not require that rigor. The overregulation makes the industry slower.
There are also paradigms that are difficult to break and that prevent the introduction of new technologies. For example, we introduced equipment for high-flow oxygen therapy to Mexico in 2014 but it was unpopular before the pandemic. During the pandemic, this equipment helped to save lives, changing the market’s opinion of it. The paradigm changed quickly and doctors became open to using this equipment.
Q: How does the content published on UCIN Médica’s blog add value to the service that you offer?
A: The blog educates on different topics, not only about products but also therapies. We also publish content that is useful for our business partners and generates value to promote collaboration and understanding.
Q: What plans do you have for future growth and expansion?
A: We have been working on institutionalizing our process for several years, a task that will be left to our governing bodies. We are also working on the enterprise resource planning migration that we started this year. It will allow us to be more agile in serving our clients and to be able to explore the use of tools like AI and machine learning. We need to be more resource efficient without sacrificing already installed capacity.
We will focus on creating increasingly solid alliances and we are open to merger, acquisition and joint ventures. We are looking for alliances to grow together and become agents of change to prolong and improve people's lives.
UCIN Médica offers over 800 medical devices from world-leading brands and new technologies related to respiratory therapy and anesthesiology.