What new initiatives is Carestream involved in?
VAN DE WALLE: Well, you could look at it in different forms in terms of initiatives. One of them is to keep launching new products in this part of the world, particularly in the digital portfolio. Secondly, as we keep expanding and growing our business, we keep adding more people and more resources, particularly for the Middle East and African region. All of this is managed out of the operations that we have in Dubai. So we keep on growing the initiatives and we keep on growing the resources just to expand our business. Again, this is all very much focused on the digital portfolio that we have.
What are the advantages of having a regional headquarters in Dubai?
VAN DE WALLE: The geographical location of Dubai is very important for the Middle East in general and the Gulf in particular. We also use it as a hub to operate in Africa and we have quite a bit of our resources allocated into the Dubai operation as such. It is an important hub because we do all of our export business out of our Dubai operation. This is the area where we keep adding resources and expanding our business.
How would you describe the business climate for the healthcare industry?
VAN DE WALLE: Healthcare in general is going through different phases in the different countries that I manage in my region. It is a vast region because it covers greater Russia, India, and Africa. They are all at different places, but one common denominator is more money being invested into the healthcare environment and being spent at different paces. There are different types of product ranges, but all going into the right direction clearly.
What are the best investment opportunities for healthcare in the GCC region?
VAN DE WALLE: The best investments in this part of the world are certainly the Middle East in general and the Gulf countries in particular because they are quickly adopting the portfolios involving all of the digital solutions that one can offer. Stepping away from the traditional film business, it is clearly this part of the world. In terms of gaps, really the gaps that we see are more related to the geopolitical environments in some of the countries because of the turmoil that has been going on over the past year. Hopefully this is going to be short lived and going forward there is going to be more investment into the healthcare business because it is an important vital solution that needs to be given to the people of the region.
What are the biggest challenges you face as a foreign company operating in Dubai?
VAN DE WALLE: I would not say that because we are a foreign company that we have any issue to operate here. The issues more relate to being able to hire the right resources to do the right job. This has always been one of the challenges that we have in this part of the world. The right person in the right place at the right moment, this is generally one of the challenges that we have. Going forward, budgets that are released at different paces. This is also a considerable challenge that we face. So for me, these are the two biggest challenges that we face on a routine basis.
The geographical location of Dubai is very important for the Middle East in general and the Gulf in particular. We also use it as a hub to operate in Africa and we have quite a bit of our resources allocated into the Dubai operation as such.
Are we currently on track to meet treatment demand in the UAE?
VAN DE WALLE: Meeting treatment demand is a function of different elements. One of them is the number of beds that we offer, the other one is solutions that you offer and how you offer them. Certainly, if you look at technology, technology is the one that can make a breakthrough and has ways of bringing that type of solution and eventually compensating the lack of beds. So this is one of the aspects we are looking at with the solutions that we are offering with various digital technologies. This is what can make a difference because, for instance, in the radiology world, you can work a lot around the workflow that can help speed up and bring diagnosis in a much more efficient way. This is one way to compensate the shortage of beds. The methods of delivery are changing. Technology coming in is also changing dramatically in terms of the way you tackle the various solutions and you can bring it in a much faster and more efficient way with enhanced quality.
How significant is the Arab Health event?
VAN DE WALLE: It is an annual event that is of great importance. Let’s not forget that in the radiology world, Arab Health is the second event after the famous RSNA in Chicago every year at the end of November. So it is an event every year where we can bring new products to this part of the world so for us it is an important event. We always take advantage of this event to showcase the latest solutions that we bring to the marketplace. Arab Health is important. It has been busy so far and we are looking forward to seeing more customers coming along and looking at our solutions.