Today, it’s among the largest pathology companies in the Philippines, processing more than 200,000 tests a month for up to 600 laboratory partners with a presence all across the archipelago. But Singapore Diagnostics wasn’t this successful from the start; six years ago, it entered a fragmented market, starting from little yet bound for success. “We had the technical knowledge of quality practices,” says President and CEO Ritche Evidente.
“Once we leveraged on that, we could build enough scale to create a major impact on prices and costs. We ended up building this world-class facility in the heart of Metro Manila, bringing in the best practices from around the world. We now operate as a laboratory for other laboratories. We managed to keep it affordable but still provide world-class services that are pretty much among the best. That’s how it was about six years ago, and that’s how it is right now.”
Ritche describes the process as building one of the world’s best labs from scratch, though he’s quick to share the credit with colleagues, past and present.
Recently, the company was awarded CAP (College of American Pathologists) accreditation, which places Singapore Diagnostics’ capabilities at an international level, making it the first and only tertiary lab in the Philippines to do so.
The fact the company has started from nothing to reach such success and industry recognition – in just six years – “holds a very special place” in Ritche’s heart. “To meet those standards is something that took us maybe three or four years of nonstop effort,” he says.
“Somehow, it was a lot easier in the sense that we started from scratch. We had the opportunity to build the right culture. We got to build the right mindset. Then, after that, everything else followed. We ended up putting together a super team of people who are invested in the success of the organisation.”
He describes that team as competitive, and they’d have to be to thrive in that environment; Ritche says one of the company’s mantras is: ‘Second place is the first loser.’ “We’re a young group. What makes it so special is that we never cease to learn, never cease to achieve. If you look at the team, they’re always reviewing practices, always innovating, always finding better ways to accomplish their tasks,” he says.
This kind of attitude has bred a culture where employees are never complacent, but are always chasing the next big target. “We should never view success as an end state,” Ritche asserts. “Success is a never-ending process of goal-setting and achievement. It is never about meeting one goal and then ending there. Success is a series of goals – never-ending, always adjusting.
“This way of thinking results in a culture that is always in motion, always achieving, always recalibrating and staying ahead of the pack. This definition of mine also describes the kind of culture we have in Singapore Diagnostics. Hopefully, this definition of success continues to be the reason behind the growth of the organisation.”
To maintain this youthful, competitive spirit, Ritche has implemented little things that keep his team’s focus razor-sharp. They rarely have meetings, for example, echoing the sentiments of entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, who tend to consider such gatherings a waste of time.
Instead, the Singapore Diagnostics team prefers to get things discussed within 5–10 minutes. Ritche also encourages team members to not only learn from their mistakes but also to take responsibility for those same mistakes, engendering a dynamic, organised and flexible mentality.
It hasn’t been an easy journey but, alongside the determination and perseverance of Ritche’s team, Singapore Diagnostics has been able to rely on quality suppliers. “When we entered the market back then, it was critical to our mission to involve only reputable global suppliers,” he says.
“When you visit our laboratories, you can see we only source our suppliers from world leaders. It makes work a lot easier for us. Working with this kind of supplier means that you have the quality and satisfaction that their brand has been built on.
“Gone are the days where keeping your customer was your primary task as a businessman. The truth is, we now have to work just as hard to keep our partners and suppliers. We have suppliers who provide us with services that give us certain advantages over competitors. That in itself is more than enough reason to treat our suppliers in the same way we treat our customers.”
Ritche says that the term “win–win relationship” is too often bandied about without being put into practice when it comes to suppliers. But, he declares, Singapore Diagnostics truly applies the phrase to the way it operates. After all, he describes the industry as collaborative. Trained as an economist, he applied practices from other industries to health care and pathology.
The ability to learn from others extends to all the company’s processes and can be drawn from anywhere – even outside health care. As technology has evolved, Singapore Diagnostics has earned the capacity to process hundreds of thousands of tests, servicing 600 hospitals and clinical laboratories all around the country.
To achieve this, Ritche has adopted logistics practices from outside the industry, since the huge network means logistics comprises a significant portion of what the company does. “We have to keep on learning,” Ritche declares.
“Hopefully, we can elevate the standards and challenge the status quo.
“One thing I’ve noticed, having been in Philippine health care for at least eight years now, there is so much room for growth and innovation. Often people look internally, but leaders have failed to learn from outside the industry. My advice is to learn, to identify best practices from outside and bring them into Philippine health care. Hopefully, we can elevate the standards and challenge the status quo.”
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