The #25×25 Interview Series powered by Schoenherr si Asociatii SCA, a special editorial project featuring 25 companies that have been in business in Romania for 25 years, continues with an exclusive talk with Dr. Florinela Cîrstina, the Managing Director of one of Romania’s first private healthcare networks, Medicover.
- Starting with a bit of historical background, what can you tell us about your company’s entry into Romania back in 1996 and about your industry as a whole back then?
Medicover Group was the first international investor to enter the private healthcare market in Romania. Back in 1997, our Swedish based group acquired a network of medical laboratories, namely Rombel Medical Laboratories, a Belgian-owned company founded in 1994, and Brimax International Medical Centre.
Following the Swedish healthcare model, Medicover developed the first preventive healthcare packages, the medical subscription, a new service that was integrated into a complete solution offering that included ambulatory medicine and medical diagnostic services.
Initially, the main customers were multinational companies that were just starting to enter the market and wanted to offer their employees attractive extra pay packages, including medical memberships. The health care system in the 1990s was mainly financed by public funds, as in any other Central and Eastern European country. However, it was a time of important structural changes in society. The standard of living soon increased and the insufficient financing of the public health system supported the demand for private health services, offered at standards similar to those in Western countries.
- How did your company navigate during all those years in Romania in terms of goals, achievements, challenges and opportunities?
Our evolution in the early years followed the direction in which the local economy, society and mentalities as a whole were going. In the 1990s medicine was mainly focused on treating diseases. There was minimal emphasis on preventative medicine or supporting a healthy lifestyle. Obviously, these things have gradually changed amid rising living standards.
The growing demand for our services has allowed us to evolve steadily, focusing both on greenfield investments and on acquisitions and partnerships with other private players in the market.
We now have a strong presence in most parts of the country, either through our own centres or through private medical projects that have attracted teams of leading medical professionals. As an example, I would mention just a few acquisitions, namely the Pelican Hospital in Oradea or the Iowemed centre in Constanta. In addition, we have built a vast network of clinics. At the moment we are working on the construction of a modern hospital in Bucharest, a project for which we have allocated funds of about 20 million euros.
Over the years we have become a solid partner for the public health system. We have so far allocated over 50 million euros in funds for the development our network. This includes the opening and acquisitions of new clinics, hospitals and the purchase of modern equipment. Also, the complexity of medical cases handled in Medicover centres has increased from year to year, with, in particular, increasingly complex interventions in the field of cardiology surgery, obesity surgery, hernia surgery and others. For example, in the Pelican hospital in Oradea, the medical team performs today unique interventions in Romania, premieres and medical innovations. We are already talking about robotic surgery and a wide range of innovations in the field.
- What is the proudest moment for your company in its 25-year history?
I could not point a single moment, as there are thousands of such moments experienced in Medicover over the years. I am most proud of the colleagues we have and have had with us. I think they are bringing what is best in us. We empower them and we get in return dedication, involvement and this makes all our challenges much easier.
- Moving into the present, how would you describe your company’s role in the current social and economic context?
The healthcare industry has been under intense pressure over the past 18 months. We have managed to adapt and come up with customized solutions for our patients. At the same time, we put a strong emphasis on patient education and a focus to living a healthier life.
We will continue to invest in technology and equip the centres with the most advanced medical equipment. We are expanding our high-tech imaging services by opening four centres by the end of 2022, following an investment of more than 4 million euros. With this investment, Medicover will strengthen its presence nationwide – opening centres in Bucharest, Constanta, Craiova and Iasi – in a market with a high potential, and, at the same time, gets ready for the medicine of the future – teleimaging. The new centres will offer high-performance magnetic resonance and tomography services, complementing the diagnostic services of Medicover clinics.
We will also continue to expand our presence in the country, either through organic growth or acquisitions.
- No one has a crystal ball, so we won’t ask about the next 25 years. But looking into the future, how do you see the road to 2030 for both your company and the industry you represent?
I believe that in 2030 we will be talking more and more about tailor-made healthcare. Digitisation will contribute to better penetration of quality healthcare. Medicover is an agile player and we will bring to the healthcare table our great expertise gathered throughout the years across Europe and Asia.