INNOVATION IN HEALTH MANAGEMENT
Interview with Prof. Luis Figueroa
Luis Figueroa is a professor, researcher and consultant on the topics of competitiveness, strategy, entrepreneurship and innovation. His work has focused on the identification and promotion of key factors and conditions for business competitiveness in Latin American countries, through the Latin American Center for Competitiveness and Sustainable Development (CLACDS) of INCAE Business School. He is an Economist, MBA from INCAE and Ph.D. in Entrepreneurship from the Essex Business School of the University of Essex in the UK.
His great commitment to the CAHI Program is reflected in the fact that his presence has been significant and relevant since its inception in 2012. During the development of the first module for this sixth generation of CAHI Fellows, he was in charge of the Academic Direction , a responsibility he shares with Prof.
You know all the generations of CAHI Fellows. Can we speak of an ideal profile? What is the ideal CAHI Fellow like?
Luis: The ideal CAHI Fellows is a person with a lot of energy, eager to make a difference in the area of health in Central America, to apply new concepts to perhaps old problems and be willing to persevere and push their project to make it a reality. What we are looking for is to leave with a lot of energy, with a lot of desire, with a lot of emotion to do things and with a lot of willingness to commit 100% to the objective of these projects.
How have you seen the evolution of the CAHI Fellows within the program?
Luis: This varies somewhat depending on the status of the CAHI Fellow at the time of entry. We have a group that is quite heterogeneous, so that transition may be different depending on the initial situation with which they arrived at the program. What we have seen is that the program normally provides tools, knowledge and reflections that are very complementary.
The candidates are selected from a large group, they are people with great ability, with a long history, many achievements and leadership. Sometimes they require support in strengthening certain additional areas, and in this sense the program fulfills a quite effective function by providing the tools. According to the initial profile, some tools are more important for some and other tools are more important for others. There are some tools that serve everyone equally, for example all the leadership and teamwork dynamics that are carried out, what we have noticed is that it benefits everyone regardless of the entry profile. That is what the program is designed for, to serve a number of people who have that origin of leadership and desire to do things and change the situation.
Luis: How has your professional path brought you to this connection with CAHI?
I was at the beginning, when I was in the design of the academic program. We have a very good team in the United States and here in Central America, together we were able to design a program that supports leadership and innovation. At that time I had a participation, then I left the program and was in other occupations here at INCAE and now I have returned with another function.
Before I was in the Executive Direction of the program, now I am in the Academic Co-Direction with Octavio Martínez from INCAE. But in reality I never left, because I have always participated in the programs, even when I stopped being Executive Director I gave some classes and I was always very willing to support them, because I believe in the initiative, I think it is something very necessary and important.
What does a program like CAHI mean for INCAE?
Luis: It is very important because our mission has to do with supporting the development of the countries of the region and obviously the situation of the health sector is important to attend to. We have great challenges in the health sector and a large part of these challenges have to do with management. There are technical and scientific challenges, but many of these challenges have to do with management and innovation, and INCAE has experience in that. At this time, the health sector is a priority in INCAE's strategic actions, understanding the importance and the need to improve this sector through innovation and management. CAHI is an important means to achieve this mission, but beyond CAHI, it is an interest of INCAE, an institutional interest to support the health sector in Central America.
As a teacher, what is the most relevant thing you offer to CAHI Fellows?
Luis: I would like to open a little perspective on what business development is within health projects. I want to convey the message that in the health sector there is room for many initiatives and part of innovation is that, achieving business models that are successful for the good of all and even that can be initiatives for profit, to bring value to people who may be excluded from services or health care. That is what I would like, to open up their perspective in this sense, that there is a whole world of business, application of modern management principles that can be applied to health and that it is in no way exclusive. Even a public service can be seen with the criteria of a private company in certain aspects.
Different types of models can coexist in health. It is not about privatizing health, but about opening up the range of options. There is always a space for universal public health, while other options open up and in the end that can lead to better care. It is about complementing the options so that the coverage and quality of care reaches many more people. It is about opening options, some for-profit, others as social and non-profit enterprises, others NGOs, others from the public sector, but all of them being more efficient in management, being more innovative. I believe that it is important to make the regulatory schemes more flexible without ceasing to be effective so that other frameworks that can be developed in parallel are allowed. That is what we believe, to open options and give space to innovation to achieve better solutions, so that health care arrives more effectively and more efficiently.
What is CAHI for you?
Luis: I would say that CAHI is a catalyst for management capacity and innovation for the health sector in Central America.
What motivates you to continue to be associated with CAHI?
Luis: I love this institution, I love its mission, I love the results. I find the CAHI Fellows to be extraordinary people. This is an honor and a pleasure. Count on me always, in the function that is. I really believe in this, we are seeing the results and those results will be bigger and bigger. I am convinced that this effort by CAHI and INCAE will result in greater impact and better results for the region.