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Critical Communications

In Focus
NAME:Martin Johansson
POSITION:Managing Director – Ascom Asia
Smooth communication can make all the difference in a hospital setting. Ascom Asia’s seamless communications solutions allow staff to better focus on patient care and improve outcomes, according to Managing Director Martin Johansson.

Traditional hospital communications systems could best be described as antiquated and aggravating for patients and staff alike. Such clumsy systems usually feature the patient pressing a buzzer to summon medical staff, who hear an alarm or alert, then trek through the hospital to check on the situation.

To modernize this system and streamline nurses’ workload, global solutions provider Ascom developed a Patient Response System, which discreetly sends alerts to nurses, nurses’ aides and nursing stations via handsets, allowing staff to speak to the patient prior to heading to their bedside. Not only does this avoid unnecessary trips for the staff, it also means they can receive specific requests for medications, water or urgent attention.

This focus on healthcare information and communications technology (ICT) and mobile workflow solutions is one of the exciting developments at Ascom, says Martin Johansson, Managing Director of Ascom Asia.

Revolutionizing Communication

Johansson explains how these solutions can assist in a medical setting.

“It is communication between caregivers – between nurses, doctors and the medical team – as well as between caregivers and patients,” he says. “This communication can happen in various forms, like face-to-face or remotely. But we believe the cornerstone of improving efficiency and patient safety is to enhance clinical communications for the hospital.”

Communications are critical in health care, especially in hospitals. The Patient Response System is but one of the specialized communications solutions Ascom provides customers.

“I liked the idea of providing technology into health care to support the increasing need of hospital care, since we do see a growth of the need with an aging population,” Johansson tells The CEO Magazine. “I see it as a great opportunity to help that industry. And it is a growing industry, which means that it’s also lucrative for businesses to be operating within.”

“These last couple of years have, if anything, proven the necessity of being ready to embrace change.”

Ascom provides communications for more than 12,000 hospitals worldwide. Its systems are also used to protect medical staff – who can signal safety alerts and be immediately located – and deployed on industrial sites to quickly reach workers in isolated areas if they require assistance.

Systems developed by Ascom can also relay patient information and collect, sort and monitor data, reducing the time spent on paperwork and freeing staff to focus on more urgent matters. Mobile alerts, meanwhile, inform nurses immediately of crisis situations and cut through the clutter of too many alarms sounding in the hospital.

Its clinical communications solutions can also help hospitals maintain high standards of patient care amid staffing shortages and a worldwide lack of nurses. So far, the mobile handset technology has been widely adopted in hospitals throughout Europe, and Johansson hopes that it won’t be long before Ascom’s communications products become more widespread in Asia.

Technology Experience

A native of Sweden and based in Singapore, Johansson brought nearly two decades of experience in ICT prior to joining Ascom in 2017. He previously worked with Ericsson in a series of positions through Asia, including Malaysia, Thailand and Hong Kong.

Johansson has made expansion a priority, starting with Singapore and Malaysia, where Ascom has offices and legal entities. He also has plans for fostering markets such as Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and North Asia, as well as China when the country fully reopens after lifting COVID-19 restrictions.

There is also a priority on customers and business partners.

“For us to provide value and to get growth, we need to have our focus on the customer, on customer projects, customer well-being,” he says.

Johansson arrived in Singapore at a challenging time in July 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic was still impeding travel, preventing him from meeting staff face-to-face. But it presented opportunities.

“We had a good chance of looking into how we operate, how we deliver projects and how we serve our customer best in a situation like COVID-19,” he says. “We learned a lot and we can leverage that now, when it is a better situation.”

“It is difficult to be strong on your own. You need a network of companies to provide the value that our customers are looking for.”

The pandemic also showed the importance of agility, Johansson says, explaining that it’s a trait the company will continue emphasizing in the coming years.

“These last couple of years have, if anything, proven the necessity of being ready to embrace change,” he notes. “Unless we are very inclusive and very communicative, there will always be people left out, and then they will not be part of the change.”

With travel resuming and in-person meetings occurring again, Johansson has fostered a positive and uplifting company culture.

“It is probably the most important factor to create a winning team and enable sustainable growth for a company,” he asserts.

“You can implement whatever strategy, but unless you have an underlying culture, it is going to be very difficult to execute on the strategy and to achieve growth, unless the culture is embedded into the ways of working among the people, the leaders and the staff,” he continues. “And I think for us, in Asia, we’d like to have a culture where we have a team spirit, which is supportive, inclusive and joyful.”

Building Trust

Complementing the corporate culture is another vital factor, according to Johansson.

“You need trust, you need people that go the extra mile for their colleagues in order to support each other, all for the benefit of the customers and the client,” he explains. “That’s what I think is culture in a company, when you can look back and say, ‘This is what we have here,’ then we have achieved something, and so this is what we’re trying to do.”

That trust extends to its relationships with suppliers and stakeholders such as governments, private hospitals, health authorities and long-term care facilities.

“You need trust, you need people that go the extra mile for their colleagues in order to support each other, all for the benefit of the customers and the client.”

Johansson admits that pursuing close relationships with suppliers allowed Ascom to avoid excessive complications, while also maintaining an agility and ability to change its approach to manufacturing when required.

“It is difficult to be strong on your own. You need a network of companies to provide the value that our customers are looking for,” he concludes. “Networking with the right partners, with the right suppliers, from an operational excellence point of view in all dimensions, is a paramount in enabling business growth.”

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