Feeling the pulse of SME growth in healthcare

Feeling the pulse of SME growth in healthcare

Join our Advice for Small Business LinkedIn group for a live Q&A

Ozren Tosic is a Team Coordinator (TC) specialising in the healthcare sector and has been working with the EBRD since 2008. He is a businessman, senior manager, medical doctor and public health specialist with more than 30 years of experience in health services and business enterprises in the United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland, Eastern Europe and the Caucasus. Ozren will hold a 2-hour Q&A session on the Advice for Small Businesses LinkedIn Group page on Tuesday 28 February from 10am-12pm (GMT).

How do you describe your role as a TC on international advisory projects?

In my view, the TC is in charge of feeling the pulse of a company. The TC oversees change and is responsible for ensuring fruitful cooperation between advisers and the company’s management.  In parallel, the TC monitors factors that cannot be captured by an automated system the same way cash flow indicators can:through a quality-focussed approach, the TC measures the company’s management entrepreneurship and commitment levels.

What have you learnt from your previous experience before joining the EBRD and what motivates you to be a TC?

Having accumulated 15 years of clinical experience, I decided to shift from clinical work to helping patients  in the public sector. I wanted to ensure that healthcare was accessible to a larger number of people.  I worked with international agencies such as the UK Department for International Development, the World Bank and United Nations in a top-down approach framework – engaging with governments to distil benefits for the end-user.

I found great value working with the EBRD, as it helps to drive the projects efficiently and overcome some bureaucratic hurdles. I recall my first project with the EBRD in 2008. After my first contact with the company, I advised the company’s management on changing their reporting method. I met the CEO the following day who informed me that the change was already under implementation. The EBRD’s impact is immense when it works on helping businesses.

Having worked as a doctor, businessman across geographical areas as diverse as Australian outback, the Western Balkans, Central Asia and New Zealand, I have learned that the same challenge can be overcome in  different ways. Applying that diverse cultural experience helps me to better diagnose clients’ needs and propose new approaches and innovative solutions.

What do you think are the most interesting recent developments in the field?

The private sector is gaining leeway over the public sector, filling the gaps in the healthcare market. For example, in Ukraine public immunisation coverage was officially estimated at between 40 and 60 per cent (depending on the type of vaccine) in 2015. To maximise vaccine distribution and overcome transportation and refrigeration issues, the private sector came up with an initiative to develop vaccination kits.

Maintenance of lifestyle and communication with chronic patients have become two key priorities for the healthcare sector. For instance, private sector companies developed algorithms to inform diabetic patients of their insulin needs. Artificial intelligence and automated systems present opportunities for small private sector operators to enter the healthcare arena, previously reserved only for highly leveraged hospital operators.

Where do you see a need for advice in the healthcare field?

In terms of the private-public sector nexus, there is a need to reconcile the two, through increased collaboration and integration. On the one hand, horizontal integration is necessary, i.e., bringing SMEs into healthcare supply chains; on the other hand, vertical integration would enable the private sector to expand its activities beyond primary care.

In parallel, the healthcare sector in the EBRD regions suffers from a lack of standardised healthcare services that can enable, if adopted, access to more affordable quality health care, expanding geographically and in volume.