As the old adage goes: ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’. It’s a saying that has particular resonance in the world of diagnostic imaging services, where an image, taken by highly trained professionals using the most advanced equipment, can discover a broad range of ailments and diseases.
It’s an important mission that creates a profound sense of purpose for Evidia Group CEO Liselott Kilaas.
“In the healthcare industry, you feel you contribute to the greater good,” she tells The CEO Magazine. “Every day, we provide diagnostic imaging to numerous people that helps them deal effectively with their medical needs. To be an integral part of this ecosystem inspires me.”
“I think culture must be built on shared history, thereby creating a basis for effective adaptation to future challenges.”
Kilaas’ involvement in the healthcare industry started in 2006 when she joined the leading Nordic private health provider Aleris as Managing Director after a background working in a variety of industries from energy to telecommunications.
She quickly found it to be a good fit thanks to the sense of fulfillment the healthcare sector offers, and has remained in the industry ever since, ascending to the role of Evidia’s Group CEO in September 2022.
A Growing Enterprise
Kilaas’ appointment marked the start of a new chapter for Evidia, which was formed in 2021, although parts of the German operations date back to 1970, Scandinavia to 1977 and the United Kingdom to 2005.
Regardless of these expansion milestones, the company’s growth has been continuous, she explains, through numerous acquisitions – the most recent being the United Kingdom-based telediagnostic company 4Ways from ECI Partners in 2023.
Deals such as this one contribute to the realization of the company’s mission to become a ‘pan-European market leader’ in radiology services; however, they also present fresh challenges.
“In our organization we have different cultures that we are in the process of aligning,” Kilaas reveals. “I think culture must be built on shared history, thereby creating a basis for effective adaptation to future challenges. Thus in a sense, you have to bring people together.”
This palpable energy, along with the sense of innovation within the company and indeed the industry as a whole, has also made Evidia an exciting place to work, according to Kilaas.
“Our technologies are becoming more and more advanced,” she says, referring to Evidia’s ‘cautious’ plan to sequentially renew its equipment. “The more advanced you get with modern technology, the quicker and smoother the diagnostic process becomes for the patient, in turn enhancing the patient’s journey through their remedial medical experience.”
Evidia is already fully digitalized in Scandinavia and the United Kingdom, Kilaas points out.
“When clients enter our premises for an appointment, they can digitally announce their presence and be immediately directed to the waiting area. When they are done with the imaging process, they can simply leave and receive the invoice by email,” she explains.
“We are deploying a similar service offering in our German clinics as well.”
“If you can automate in one area, there will always be a need for people in another area.”
There’s huge potential for AI to be applied to diagnose images, yet in this, Evidia is taking a cautious approach.
“It is still early days,” Kilaas explains. “We apply AI to enhance quality in the reviewing of the images, but of course, not to replace our radiologists.”
Finding that balance between cutting-edge technology and human expertise will be one of the biggest challenges going forward, she admits, especially faced with a skills shortage as in so many other industries.
“If you can automate in one area, there will always be a need for people in another area. For example, with digitalization, we can reduce the number of people in our reception areas, but we retrain them to perform more patient-focused treatments and tasks,” she says.
“The shortage of people in the healthcare industry makes us try to utilize our own resources as much as possible through training and subsequent redeployment.”
A Measured Approach
There are still obstacles to overcome for AI to consistently read and interpret images on its own while adhering to governing medical standards, Kilaas explains. So while she’s not discounting the potential of AI, she has a pragmatic approach to its adoption.
“My view on innovation is that first of all, you should always ask, ‘Is this to the benefit of the organization and–or tasks performed? If the answer is yes, then of course, you should embark on the project and contemplate how you can implement the innovation. In this context of innovation, it should also be mentioned that the diverse structure of Evidia lends itself to the transfer of ‘best practice’ among clinics’” she says.
“However, I have made it clear to my organization that we are not a medical research organization or a university clinic that tests different technologies and methods for the sake of conducting research. We continuously monitor the field of radiology to identify new technologies and procedures we think could benefit our patients. Deemed beneficial, we implement such novelties.”
This focus on innovation means Evidia has also homed in on sustainability, as it carefully monitors the energy usage of its ‘high-consuming’ machinery.
“We have to be very precise about our energy goals when it comes to the machinery,” Kilaas confirms.
It’s a focus that extends across the entire business, to Evidia’s use of room heating and to its car policy, where electric vehicles are to be utilized wherever possible. But she stresses that in each market, the company adapts to local conditions.
“It is a very local business and you have to adapt to local needs in each country as customer characteristics are diverse. Additionally, your employees – the physicians, the technicians and the receptionists – are also different,” she reflects.
“Given my 30-plus years of international experience, I can say these attributes are more pronounced in health care than in other industries. Venturing into health care thinking you can apply uniform methods and organizational structures across borders is a recipe for failure.”
“We continuously monitor the field of radiology to identify new technologies and procedures we think could benefit our patients.”
Evidia’s commitment to its customers and partners is constant across all units of business, regardless of geographic region.
“I hope everyone interacting with Evidia feels that our employees and management take care of them,” Kilaas says.
“We are listening to clients’ wishes and respond swiftly to critical matters, uncertainty aspects or questions regarding upcoming procedures. In Evidia we are proactive and our goal is to be easily accessible communications-wise across different platforms, both physically and digitally.
“Last but not least, we are dedicated to serving our patients and our referring doctors. At the end of the day, we are proud to be there for them – a key aspect in succeeding in a ‘patient first’ business.”