“Medical imaging technology business is Fujifilm’s core growth driver in India”

Healthcare transformation is a continuous process of improvement, says Koji Wada, Managing Director, Fujifilm India in an exclusive conversation with the BioVoice

Beginning as Japan’s pioneering photographic film maker, Fujifilm has leveraged its imaging and information technology to become a global presence known for innovation in healthcare, graphic arts, optical devices, highly functional materials and other high-tech areas. The company is continuously working towards early detection of disease and generating awareness among general public by conducting awareness programs, for promoting TB and Cancer screening.
This edition of ‘Chat with BioVoice’ features Koji Wada, Managing Director, Fujifilm India sharing his views in an exclusive detailed conversation with the Rahul Koul, Chief Editor, BioVoice. Read the excerpts:

BV LogoHow has the Covid-19 pandemic affected your company in India and globally? Any key learnings and how will you implement them in the future?
The Covid-19 pandemic is something that has affected everyone at all levels of society. However, Fujifilm India was in much better shape to counter the impact of the pandemic swiftly with its innovative technology and commitment towards medical advancements. We at Fujifilm, were at the forefront of developing technologies to help doctors easily detect Covid and help radiologists in ease their burden. Our medical business in India is driven by Computer Radiology (CR) and Digital Radiology (DR) products, which have been key in facilitating the digitization of X-rays and ensuring effective monitoring along with controlling the disease outbreak.
India has been a critical market for us which has contributed $150 million to the company’s global healthcare revenue last year, growing at a CAGR of 10%. With the Indian market undergoing transformation and the adoption of new technologies being encouraged by the government, we are hopeful of a significant growth in the overall market share and revenue. The pandemic has taught us various new things but the most important is pacing up with the technological innovations in the medical industry like the adoption and integration of AI and IoT. In the coming times, we believe that technologies like AI and IoT are going to be the key to solving a lot of problems for doctors.
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How do you view the transformation of the healthcare industry in India over the period of the last one decade?
Healthcare transformation is a continuous process of improvement. In the past decade, the Indian Healthcare industry has seen a major transformation where the Government has taken strong initiatives to provide improved Healthcare facilities, infrastructure, and level of care to the citizens. Today, people are better aware and have increased access to insurance and other services.
The covid 19 pandemic has transformed the initiatives of the public and private sector in the healthcare industry with an increased focus on telemedicine. With the advancements in digital and technological innovations, the Indian healthcare industry is expected to improve multi-folds in the coming times.
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What are the challenges and opportunities in the Indian medical technology sector? Way forward for the industry?
The first and second waves of the Coronavirus and subsequent lockdowns exposed the healthcare sector to several challenges. Despite the devastating effect on the healthcare industry, COVID-19 has provided opportunities to the government to bring in transformation, reforms and improvements in the healthcare industry. During the pandemic, the government allocated a significant amount of budget to enhance the quality of services provided and to strengthen the infrastructure. Initially, India was not well equipped with medical technologies and infrastructure to combat COVID-19 but it was quick enough to adapt and overcome the situation. The country quickly prepared itself for the upcoming threats and strengthened its infrastructure.
With increased Government initiatives and public awareness about health, will help the Indian healthcare industry to undergo massive growth in the coming years. India is well on the path to becoming a key global player in the medical industry as it has learnt from its challenges and is preparing for everything that may come.
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How is Fujifilm playing a role in bringing healthcare innovations to India and reducing the burden on doctors?
Fujifilm India has always been committed to bringing innovations in the healthcare sector. It has been our key goal to provide the masses with the best medical solutions worldwide. Recently, we announced the launch of our new software version of “CAD EYE”, a function that supports real-time detection of colonic polyps during colonoscopy utilizing AI technology. This updated and advanced function will be essential for colon polyp detection and characterization, which will be achieved by utilizing a type of Artificial Intelligence (AI) called deep learning.
Additionally, we have made significant contributions to the field of radiography and mammography along with promoting early detection of breast cancer. We recently introduced our COVID-19 Pneumonia Image Analysis Program” which helps in diagnosing chest CT images by offering characteristic image findings of COVID-19 pneumonia across three stages. The Covid-AI-enabled software has strengthened India’s fight towards Covid-19. The technology automatically analyses the chest CT images and displays the results which assist doctors in diagnosing COVID-19 pneumonia and ultimately saving human lives.
We are committed to bringing such innovative solutions to our consumers which are of utmost ease and convenience. This year we launched our first portable X-ray device that can easily be used in environments where space and resources are limited, providing quick and easy access to diagnostic imaging through its lightweight, battery powered PORTABLE X-RAY UNIT FDR Xair. Prior to that, we had launched mobile digital radiology system – FDR nano. Offering high-resolution imaging with low X-ray doses in healthcare settings, this new digital radiology technology enables a noise reduction circuits that in turn, improves the granularity of low-density regions, and achieves high image quality. Such technological innovations have been the pillars of our commitment to reduce the burden on doctors and provide medical infrastructure in the remotest part of the country.
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Tell us about your recent partnership with Sakra World Hospital, where Fujifilm India introduced its AI-based COVID-19 pneumonia assessment program?
Our association with Sakra World Hospital has been borne out of our campaign “COVID-19 Pneumonia Image Analysis Program” which helps in diagnosing chest CT images by offering characteristic image findings of COVID-19 pneumonia across three stages. The Covid-AI-enabled software has strengthened India’s fight towards COVID-19. The technology automatically analyses the chest CT images and displays the results which assists doctors in diagnosing COVID-19 pneumonia and ultimately saving human lives. Additionally, SYNAPSE 3D, a workstation system visualizes and analyzes high-precision 3D images from tomographic images such as CT and MRI by utilizing our image recognition technology. We are delighted to have partnered with Sakra World Hospital to pave the way for a healthier India. With our technology, we aim to reduce the burden on the healthcare workers who have been at the forefront in the fight against COVID-19.
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What are the latest trends in medical technology R&D and product development globally?
The medical industry globally is going under a massive acceleration of technologies. Recently we have witnessed a lot of trends in the healthcare sector like Artificial Intelligence and telemedicine.
Against COVID-19- Artificial intelligence has a significant role to play in the fight against COVID-19, like facial recognition with masks, and analyzing CT scans, pandemic detection, vaccine development, thermal screening.
In April 2020, the 1st wave of COVID-19 accelerated the use of telehealth resources. Reduced contact between patients, healthcare workers, and other patients. It is one of the major benefits of telehealth over in-person. Patients took virtual appointments and are comfortable with telehealth solutions. The telehealth facilities helped in maintaining social distance and also aided in assisting elderly people remotely, reducing bed space, and conserving clinical supplies.
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How do you look at the regulatory scenario in India? Are there any significant improvements?
The Government of India has taken major initiatives to promote the Indian healthcare industry to boost the country’s healthcare infrastructure. Ayushman Bharat scheme has benefited a lot of people and helped to improve the healthcare infrastructure in the country. One major area however, that still needs a lot of focus in India is the radiology industry. We have enough innovations and manufacturers to build radiology machines and devices, but we have an acute shortage of radiologists in the country. This is one area which needs further government intervention and incentivization.
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What are the various CSR initiatives being spearheaded by the company?
Our approach to CSR is to contribute to the development of society and humankind by putting our Corporate Philosophy into practice. We have been a firm believer in giving back to society in ways that empower us all.
To support the country during the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis, we introduced various initiatives to help people, starting with providing N95 respirators and surgical face masks along with PPE kits to healthcare professionals at PGIMER, Chandigarh. We have recently launched our “Never Stop: Screening to Reduce Diagnostic Delays” on Tuberculosis in association with National TB Elimination Programme (NTEP). With this, we plan to fill the critical gap in TB screening by introducing a mobile van with an X-ray facility along with a field team and community volunteers. With our mission of ‘Never Stop’, we are making sure that facilities reach the last corner of the country and we win this tuberculosis epidemic.
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Please explain your vision for the company and business outlook for the market?
Over the years, India has emerged amongst the best performing regions for Fujifilm, with our primary focus in offering healthcare solutions through Artificial Intelligence. We have seen immense potential to grow multiple folds in the coming years as the medical imaging technology business forms the company’s core growth driver in India.
We believe that business corporation must be an entity that contributes to resolving social issues through its business activities, and by developing and supplying its own technologies products and services.