The UK’s Vanguard is going global

Interview: Brenda Marsh

Last January Dr Maurizio Pupi became the International Business Manager of Vanguard Healthcare – the UK supplier of mobile healthcare facilities – which intends to spread its already very established and necessary services beyond the United Kingdom.

Maurizio Pupi
Maurizio Pupi

Vanguard’s choice for the role augurs well. 47-year-old Dr Pupi, an Italian and graduate in economics and business, not only speaks Italian but also English, German and Spanish. In addition, he is a seasoned international leader in the European healthcare market. Before joining Vanguard he was for eight years European Business Director and a
shareholder in Alliance Medical Ltd, where he was responsible for several acquisitions and, among other responsibilities, created AMIS, the pan-European arm of AML, with a €6 million turnover. He was also Managing Director of the Spanish JV after its acquisition in 2007, with a €9 million turnover. There is much else one could add about his accomplishments, but this should suffice to demonstrate that Vanguard has a ‘lion’ roving to present its unique mobile services to healthcare providers internationally.

What are the benefits of your experience with Alliance Medical for Vanguard?

The European healthcare market is a complex environment with many different requirements, focuses and aspirations. Mobile services can answer many of the modern challenges faced by healthcare professionals across Europe and, in most cases, do so at a considerably lower cost than alternative solutions. My experience with Alliance has made me familiar with the intricacies of incorporating a mobile solution into a country’s healthcare system seamlessly, effectively, with the least inconvenience for the healthcare providers and the most benefits for the patients.

Is there is a natural symbiosis between the offerings of Vanguard and Alliance?

There is always a natural symbiosis between diagnostic services and surgery services, so it is true that there is a potential synergy between the services of Alliance and Vanguard. However, the opportunities present for Vanguard Healthcare extend well beyond Alliance Medical’s presence in Europe. Potentially every single hospital in Europe is a prospective client for us, and this is the approach that we are taking with our international goals.

Will you approach hospitals that have already utilised Alliance Medical services?

Our approach is more focused on spreading the information about our services in Europe and generating high level contacts at government level. But there is nothing to say that we would not work with hospitals that have already utilised Alliance’s services – far from it.

How will you approach entry into Europe?

We have selected seven countries that, in our opinion, present the best opportunities for a swift entry to market. In no particular order, they are: Holland, Sweden, Poland, Italy, Spain, France and Germany. We have identified dedicated agents in the majority of these target countries and are dealing with a number of serious enquiries already under offer. Our approach is based on disseminating the information that we have about an area, its healthcare industry and about how they might respond to the provision of mobile services. Mobile units are a
new idea for most countries and we will, of course, need to make special efforts to ensure that decision makers and users are familiar with the concept. To this end, we now have a multi-lingual website, we are attending a number of conferences (i.e. Surgeon’s Day in Holland) and are participating in a number of European healthcare forums were our contribution as a new and innovative service provider is already highly valued.

Can you assess which hospitals have an immediate need to use the units?

Typically our partners hire a mobile unit for one of two main reasons. The first is to protect revenue. All hospitals have to refurbish their facilities; maintaining their revenues and keeping referral paths whilst ensuring that their surgeons keep working are important parts of the management of the refurbishment project. Vanguard helps them to do this by providing one or more of our mobile facilities. They can be hired on a short or long term basis, and can be supplied with equipment and staff to suit individual needs.

The second reason hospitals hire a Vanguard unit is to create additional revenue streams. Vanguard can help
health operators to do this by supplying additional capacity to them at the time when they need it. With units immediately available, we can help them to take advantage of new opportunities and test markets without them taking the risk of capital investment. Through our agents and via direct contact with hospital decision makers, we discern whether healthcare providers fall into either of these categories.

Are the EU’s poorer countries more likely to need Vanguard units?

The requirements are there, but funding can be difficult to arrange. I strongly believe that the eastern part of Europe will be a key market for us in the future, and will form a major part of the second phase of our international strategy.

Will you also introduce the services to Arab countries?

It’s a coincidence that you ask, as we made our inaugural visit to Arab Health in January! We exhibited one of our mobile operating theatres there and attracted a great deal of attention from visiting dignitaries. From our success at Medica last year and Arab Health this year, we have identified a key potential market for the sale of second hand units beyond Europe, mainly focusing on the Middle Eastern region. There was a great interest in purchasing the units exhibited at Medica and Arab Health and, in response to this clear demand we are establishing an arm of the business that will sell units second hand in these countries. We are in the process of creating a mobile unit ‘showroom’ in the UK, where potential buyers can inspect and explore fully operational units wit the view of buying one to incorporate into the healthcare system back in their own country. We have also set up an international website to support this newendeavour.

What swallows up your time in presenting Vanguard?

As I said, Vanguard solutions are a completely new idea to many European countries, but the potential that they have to solve the challenges posed by modern healthcare has got healthcare providers across the Continent to sit up and listen. My time is spent explaining the advantages and flexibility of our solutions to these healthcare providers, helping to establish our growing network of agents, and in making sure that the Government of the target European countries also understand the benefits of a mobile surgery solution.

How would you briefly present the value of using Vanguard units?

The value in Vanguard’s solutions has been proven time and again in the UK – over 120,000 procedures have been performed on our units, and many NHS Trusts now consider us to be the ‘national fleet’ of the National Health Service. Vanguard’s success has been because our mobile services allow healthcare providers, both private and public, to revolutionise the way that they treat patients, providing a flexible, state-of-the-art solution to any challenge that may arise. This flexibility allows healthcare providers to treat more and more patients without experiencing a loss of standards to requiring significant capital expenditure – something that few can afford in these frugal financial times.

In the best scenario, how far could Vanguard reach, globally?

Whether you are talking about healthcare in the UK, or France, or Holland, or any country in Europe, or across the world, you are talking about very similar problems and challenges. The healthcare industry needs to be able to cope with stringent budgets and an ageing population – both of which put a major strain on capacity and standards of healthcare facilities. Because of this, there is a prevalent need for healthcare providers to establish a framework that has the flexibility to cope with these challenges as they change and grow. In essence, flexibility will be the core
directive of healthcare providers across the world. Whether it is in providing long term unit rentals, or in the sale of second hand units, our mobile services offer this flexibility, and as long as our services can solve modern healthcare challenges, I feel that there is no limit to how far this company can reach.

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