07 July 2022

Interview with Raffaella Bondi, one of the newest board members of Swisscham Hungary

A lasting partnership based on shared values is more important than anything else

Value-based healthcare, responsible digitalization, end-to-end patient journeys, untapped health data assets, agile operations, Azzurri – exciting and evocative topics were discussed with the new board member of the Swiss-Hungarian Chamber of Commerce Raffaella Claudia Bondi, Italian Managing Director of Roche Hungary, believes that the key to the future is clearly long-term partnership and cooperation.

“How pained were you when your home country’s national football team did not qualify for this year’s World Cup?”

“It was not a good feeling, although it was not the first time it had happened.” It is also a fact that the Italian eleven have not missed two consecutive world championships. Add to it that we also won the European Championship in 2020, where we had also finished first once before, and we have four world titles. The truth is that sometimes things work out and sometimes not so much. However, the important thing is to learn from what is not working and I’m confident that with team spirit and hard work we will be very competitive at the next tournament.  Winning a continental tournament is clearly a triumph of teamwork, whether in football, water polo or any other sport.”

“Do you consider yourself a team player? Is this also your attitude as a number one leader?”

“Absolutely. Creating a cooperative environment and team cohesion is, in my opinion, one of the most important leadership tasks. A workplace can be sufficiently performance-oriented, inspiring enough, professionally well-established, competitive in terms of pay and benefits, but if things don’t work really well without real and effective cooperation, sooner or later things start to fall apart.”

“Is this personal experience?”

“Fortunately, I experienced the opposite at Roche, which I joined after few years in consultancy. In a corporate culture based on the triple values of courage, integrity and passion, respect and acceptance of each other is a priority, and this makes for very high-quality cooperation. Just think of a jazz orchestra: it’s all about collaboration and harmony, about listening to each other and creating something unique together. Roche believes in smooth collaboration, where everyone can bring out their best, complemented by creativity and entrepreneurial mindset: these are the foundations of the agile transformation that is underway in the company. And if we started talking about football, it has to look very much the same in team sports to achieve the desired results.”

“What do you see from this cooperative approach in Hungary?”

“I have had a very positive experience in the few months I have been here. I was also pleased to note that cooperation in Roche Hungary is a priority and good. As in Roche’s global organization, it is an integral part of everyday life here, which makes teamwork really effective. Part of the whole picture is that transformation processes also test us. We’ve been working in an agile way for some time now, which has fundamentally rewritten the way we used to operate. This requires more creativity, ownership mindset and high level of cooperation from the organization. In practice, this means giving more authority to the organization and delegating corporate decision-making to lower levels, so that they are not taken at a center far away from the effects, but by those directly affected by the consequences of a decision. I am also pleased to see that our partnerships are characterized by strong cooperation, which is also crucial at the systemic level: in order for the latest medical advances to be integrated into the daily practice of patient care as quickly and efficiently as possible, the cooperation of all actors in the healthcare system is needed. Fortunately, I see excellent examples of this and we want to strengthen this even further in the future.”

“Can you name a few of them?”

“Let’s start with Semmelweis University, the leading medical and health science university in our region: in the last five years alone, we have conducted around 70 clinical trials with them in various disease groups. In addition to coordinated research and development activities, our cooperation also includes sharing international and domestic experience and practices, and supporting education, which we have signed a strategic agreement with the university to strengthen. Another good example is our Hungarian Foundation for the Development of Personalised Healthcare, which last year donated Roche’s proprietary digital patient journey management system to the National Healthcare Service Center (OKFŐ). The application, integrated into the National eHealth Infrastructure (EESZT), provides tangible support to all healthcare stakeholders, from doctors and patients to providers and funders, so that every step of the patient’s journey can be tracked and planned. The aim is to ensure that patients receive the most appropriate and effective treatment as quickly as possible, while keeping the system manageable and sustainable. And another great example of collaboration is the work of the 30-year-old Association of Innovative Pharmaceutical Manufacturers (AIPM), which we were delighted to join, convinced that lasting partnerships based on shared values are needed to improve the health of society and the indicators of the national health system. This will enable patients to get access to the latest therapies as soon as possible, which will have a positive impact on their life chances and quality of life. And from this spring, as a board member of Swisscham, for the activities of the chamber.”

“Has the pandemic brought any progress in the health sector?”

“In several important respects, very strong ones. One is that, at the level of individuals, there is a very strong appreciation of health, of the importance of taking better care of ourselves and, of course, of our loved ones. The other is the acceleration of innovation: with vaccines and therapeutics developed against the viruses responsible for COVID-19 being developed much faster, going through the testing and approval phases more quickly and becoming widely available, the previously widely accepted assumption that a drug would take years to become available has been overturned. And I would also mention the emergence of telemedicine, and the way how we embed the learnings of this period in the future of a sustainable healthcare.

“What exactly do we mean by the term?”

“Value-based healthcare means a paradigm shift in the systems that deliver healthcare. It is a break from the simplistic cost-benefit analysis that has been the practice of looking at the cost of a treatment based solely on clinical criteria. Value-based healthcare approaches the evaluation of a therapy with a much more complex focus: it looks not only at the price, clinical trial results and survival rates, but also at the quality of life of the patients treated, the extent to which the treatment keeps doctors and nurses busy, whether the patient can remain active for the duration of the treatment, and so on. The bottom line is that therapies are ranked on the basis of a number of aspects that have not been given the attention they deserve or have not been given the attention they deserve – but which are all part of the whole picture. This approach also has the advantage that, if it becomes systemic, it will make the whole healthcare system both more patient-oriented and more cost-effective.”

“So does it also make business sense?”

“Absolutely, and at a societal level it is the future, as it makes health systems more sustainable, more affordable and more equitable. Of course, the benefits at the individual level are the most important: the fact that personalized, innovative therapies improve patients’ life chances and quality of life simultaneously and significantly.” This is also why it is crucial that people get them as opposed to a template solution, so that they are as widely accessible as possible to all, with all actors in the health sector having a role and responsibility. But returning to the business component, it is also important because value-based healthcare is following a similar path to environmental sustainability: it can grow out of the increasingly popular exotic category if it is worth paying attention to in business terms.

“What role can a business chamber play in this process?”

“Swisscham Hungary has a crucial role to play in providing information, widely presenting and disseminating good examples, and shaping attitudes. Making healthcare value-based is by no means a private matter for the sector: it requires a strong partnership, for example with companies that can contribute to this process through the achievements of digitalization. In healthcare, human lives are at stake, and therefore digital transformation can and should be executed with a sense of responsibility. This brings us back to where we started, the partnership approach, which means integrating additional external players, whether they are health tech companies, insurance companies or IT companies that can, for example, exploit the currently untapped data assets of the healthcare sector.”

“And what is Roche’s role in this complex formula?”

“We believe that the healthcare of the future and the breakthrough will come from the widespread adoption of a value-based approach to healthcare. This includes a very serious commitment on the global stage: Roche wants to improve its own innovation capacity to the point where, by 2030, it can deliver 3 to 5 times more innovative solutions to patients at up to half of the cost to the society. I am convinced that the kind of multiculturalism and the highly inclusive, diverse and supportive internal environment that is not only characteristic of Roche, but a consciously chosen and developed part of our corporate culture, is the perfect starting point for this.”