Luke Fryer is Managing Director of Medline Europe, a major privately-owned US healthcare company that entered the UK market in 2008 and has already gained 15 national NHS tenders. Medline offers a wide portfolio of medical consumables right across the healthcare market.
What are your main priorities as Managing Director of Medline Europe?
There is a fundamental shift occurring in the healthcare market, which changes our focus from reactive treatment to proactive prevention and managing incidence of disease infection to ensure quality outcomes. Medline is dedicating the account management and clinical teams and manufacturing units to help succeed in this area. In addition the teams have to stay focused on why we are in business, and why we have been successful, which is because we provide high-quality products and because we never compromise on service.
As an American owned company, it's challenging to have to orientate ourselves, and remind our parent company, towards the different needs which are specific to Europe.
What particular challenges and opportunities does the UK healthcare market hold for a company like Medline?
There is a great opportunity for Medline in Europe in the years to come. We are unique in Europe at the moment in that we are a $4 billion global company without a historical infrastructure in the UK and Europe, and that allows us to be extremely nimble and creative for our customers' needs. We do not have the historical infrastructure which many of our competitors in the market have. This really is an advantage for our customers in that, in these challenging times, we are able to look at things in a different way. If they're asking us to provide various solutions and services, it's highly likely that we'll be able to adapt and deliver them.
The challenge facing Medline is the fact that we are new and we have to build our reputation, and we can only do so by creating loyalty through serving our customers and getting it right first time - because it is a demanding market, and not one that gives you a second chance. That is extremely important to us: if we promise something, we will deliver on it.
The new Government strategy for healthcare in the UK involves the decentralisation of NHS commissioning. How will this affect your market?
To take it down to a basic level, we must be extremely strong locally, which means our team of account managers have to be the best. We have made a conscious decision to recruit professional, commercial personnel from outside the healthcare industry. They are able to bring fresh ideas and experiences. When this is coupled with the excellent clinical support team, who have worked in and alongside the NHS, we have a very powerful two pronged approach, which we feel puts us at an advantage in meeting all the requirements of good service and good products to our customers.
Medline is known for its involvement in campaigns to raise awareness of breast cancer. Why are public health campaigns of this kind important for the medical technologies industry?
We wanted to give something back into the industry in which we work, and a breast cancer awareness campaign seemed a natural fit as the demography of our customers is predominantly female. We do not brand heavily with regards to these campaigns; rather our involvement is from the outside.
Just recently we have worked on something known as the Pink Glove Dance, which you can find on www.pinkglovedance.com or on YouTube, and which hopefully adds a different dimension to an extremely challenging disease. It is great because it involves the healthcare workers and patients who suffer from breast cancer, and in times of difficulty adds a bit of fun. It has been an absolute global success and something, with which we are very proud to have been associated - but it is really down to the healthcare workers and the patients who have made it that success. Medline is proud to be associated with it on the periphery.
The Pink Glove Dance was created in a particular US hospital, and a lot of other healthcare institutions have got involved; it has been on the national cable channels and has spread right across the globe now, and it's great to see the healthcare workers and the patients coming together and sharing in a bit of fun, and raising some awareness and funds along with that.