Leading German medtech companies form a strong alliance

Germany’s providers of state-of-the-art medical devices and solutions have strengths that are recognized worldwide. To further increase these advantages, many of them have joined a potent network – the German Health Alliance (GHA). One of their most active members is Drägerwerk AG. Its CEO, Mr. Stefan Dräger, explains his business in Asia Pacific and the merits of GHA.

What is the German Health Alliance? 
The German Health Alliance (GHA) is an initiative of the Federation of German Industries (BDI), established in summer 2019, which promotes exchange between governments, the private sector, non-governmental organizations and foundations, as well as science, academia and international organizations. GHA pools all of these actors for the purpose of strengthening the healthcare systems worldwide. A special focus is on global health, excellent high-quality medical technology as well as medical solutions and healthcare services that are necessary to widely improve access to health care.

The growing international demand for German expertise in the field of healthcare is being addressed by GHA by providing innovative and high-quality technologies, products, solutions and services. Besides thematic work, GHA offers a great network of different players in the German healthcare sector and political world, both nationally and internationally. As a highlight, trade fairs and events with high-ranking representatives take place. GHA consists of more than 100 members from the industry sector and science field as well as foundations, NGOs, healthcare institutions and stateowned development organizations. The new GHA is composed of three former major players: German Healthcare Partnership (GHP), German-Sino Healthcare Group (GSHCG) and German Healthcare Export Group (GHE). GHP was founded in 2010 by the German government and consisted of members active in the field of industry, science as well as NGOs, healthcare institutions and government-owned development organizations. All of its members have now joined the GHA. GSHCG is a merger of Chinese and German businesses, based on a framework agreement from 2006 between government representatives from Germany and China. Its focus is mainly on bilateral cooperation regarding the healthcare system in both countries. GHE as the third partner was founded in 1991 as a medical technology export promotion association. Its members provide comprehensive medtech solutions worldwide. 

Interview with Stefan Dräger

1. What are the business activities of Dräger in Asia Pacific? What significance does the region have for your company?
Dräger is present in nearly all countries in Asia Pacific either directly or via our sales channel partners. We pride ourselves in taking a three prong approach towards our customer with our frontline consisting of sales person, application specialist and service. The last office we opened was in Myanmar and already comprises a team of 4. The biggest presence we have is in China with 800 people. We are committed to build a long-term sustainable business. We have chosen to be a specialist in acute care. At a time when healthcare is evolving and getting disrupted, it is crucial to be focused on what we do best. We are focused on suggesting the best solution to our customers. The healthcare challenge is an enormous one and it requires collaboration. In terms of connectivity, we have taken a stand to have an open platform with appropriate security to ensure the best for our customer. Though the world is changing rapidly, our core value of customer intimacy will remain central to everything we do. Asia Pacific region is also a constant source of talent and innovation for Dräger. In the last decade we have built an R&D center in China and also a small innovation center in India.

2. What challenges and future prospects do you see in Asia Pacific?              
Asia Pacific is a very large territory with more than 60% of the world population with still significant disparity and complex sub-layers. Our aim to get to every possible patient who could benefit from our technology is still relatively low and not where we would like it to be. Though we are expanding and hiring significantly, however, we are still a long way from the point at which we would be satisfied. We see increasing regulation making market access on one hand more secure but on the other hand very complex as numerous countries have different regulatory standards. This creates significant cost burden and thereby reduces accessibility. Over the last twenty years, we have seen life span increase and infant mortality reduce significantly. Some countries in Asia Pacific like Japan, Korea, Singapore and others now have leading worldwide health indicators. The governments, though stretched, have put healthcare as a primary agenda and we see the fruits of their focus all around us. We feel blessed to be part of this journey and we commit to doing our best to ensure that we do our small part in this massive challenge. 

3. What do you see as the main motivation and advantages for companies when joining the GHA initiative? In which way did Dräger engage in GHA? 
GHA provides multisectoral cooperation between governments, the private sector, research and science, NGOs and civil society. This enables Dräger, as one of the member organizations, to contribute to political decision making and governmental meetings, as well as to discuss topics that are relevant for global health and our business. We are pleased about the possibilities GHA offers for networking and infor mation exchange at events, in forums and working groups. Furthermore, Dräger benefits from the partnerships with other, sometimes regional associations and initiatives, such as OAV and LAV. Dräger is one of the founder organizations of the initiative GHP German Healthcare Partnership, which was one of the forerunners of German Health Alliance. Eeva Karsta, Director Government Relations at Dräger, is Deputy Chairman of the Board and Member of the Advisory Board of GHA, supporting the member organizations with her activities.

Stefan Dräger

Stefan Dräger was born 1963 in Lübeck, Germany. He has been the Chairman of the Executive Board of Drägerwerk Verwaltungs AG since July 2005 and represents the fifth generation within the family company.