Located deep in southwest China at a very high altitude, Tibet is a vast and sparsely populated area. The medical resources there are very limited and the medical technology is years behind. Since the production and delivery of equipment suitable for the local environment requires large capital investments, many internationally renowned medical device companies choose not to service this area. Mindray, however, dedicated to making health service and technology available to everyone, has been serving local medical institutions at all levels in Tibet for more than 20 years and helped save thousands of lives. Our story will focus on Hu Tao, one of the medical service pioneers on this snow-covered plateau.
Mr. Hu, a young man from Sichuan, studied information technology in college. But as an extrovert, he didn’t like a desk job. In less than one year of working as a programmer, he changed his career and became a salesman in the electric power and materials industries. In 2018, he joined Mindray and set off to Tibet, not knowing what he faced ahead. Since then, he has had a life of working 10-hour plus days with a lot of time spent traveling between different hospitals, including on the weekends. The following is a look into a typical week of Mr. Hu:
In Lhasa, meeting with his team in the afternoon to determine the work schedule for the upcoming week.
In Lhasa, (the local hospital opens at 9:30 AM), meeting with the heads of different departments of the partner hospital to discuss the details of the academic conference to be held in Chongqing on the weekend. At 3:00 PM before the hospital closes for the day, discussing device requirements with hospital representatives and preparing relevant information with the distribution partner. At 5 PM, going to the Health Commission to discuss the conference schedule of Mindray with the staff of the Medical Association. At 10:30PM, summarizing daily work, and at 11 PM, reviewing the work of Mindray’s local distributor for the day.
Departing from Lhasa to Shigatse at 8:00 AM, and supervising the qualification examination of staff of their local distributor at noon. In the afternoon, discussing the latest project progress with staff of the Mindray’s local distributor and getting information about the newly established local hospital, and lastly, taking the staff of their local distributor to meet with the heads of relevant departments of the partner hospital to discuss future cooperation.
In Shigatse, meeting with the leaders of the Municipal Health Commission in the morning and inviting them to participate in this year’s hospital conference to discuss the training of staff for the Coronavirus vaccine equipment. Going back to Lhasa by train at noon; discussing with the head of the departments of the partner hospital about laboratory equipment and affairs and determining the agenda for the Chongqing conference. After that, continuing the organization of product inventory of their local distributor, which he started initially on Monday.
Departing from Lhasa Airport to Chongqing at 8:00 AM, making final preparations for the academic conference.
While in Chongqing, going to the airport to pick up participants of the conference, handling daily work remotely, and while at the same time, inviting customers to the next industry event.
Saturday and Sunday
Participating in academic meetings with customers, and after the meeting is over, discussing with the team about the work schedule for the following week, which is equally hectic.
This kind of busy schedule of Mr. Hu is typical of a medical supplier marketing manager in Tibet. Over the years, he has become a trusted partner of hospitals and relevant government authorities in the area. Each large or small industry conference and event that he organizes, in one way or another, has helped improve the hospitals and abilities or knowledge of medical staff in Tibet, which, in turn, continues to motivate him and bring him a sense of achievement.
image 1, image 2: Mr. Hu’s team delivering Mindray medical equipment to a partner hospital–Zuogong County People’s Hospital
Before entering Tibet, Mr. Hu knew that he was going to an area that has fallen behind medical development for many years, but he was still surprised by the poor medical services in Tibet. In the more than 70 county-level hospitals all over Tibet, the knowledge and skills of medical staff as well as the equipment were no better than the rural hospitals in the east. In order to improve the situation, the national medical authority has developed an aid package for Tibet. It has sent hospital leaders and doctors from more developed areas to Tibet, introduced advanced medical experience and management concepts, and invested funds to upgrade the equipment of hospitals of all levels in Tibet. In addition to the limitations of the existing medical equipment and knowhow, the extreme geographical conditions are also a great challenge. Mr. Hu cited an example: Mindray has invested in developing a ventilator that can be used at an altitude of 4500 meters, and has continuously improved to reduce the failure rate. As a national brand, it has become the best choice for local hospitals. Furthermore, Mindray cooperated with industry experts, local hospitals, and local health commission committees to bring more experts to Tibet to teach and allow more local medical staff to study in the interior. At the mention of what was accomplished, Mr. Hu's eyes shined with pride.
The first time he visited a client from Changdu City to its affiliated Baxoi County People's Hospital, he had to drive for eight hours on National Highway 318, which is more than 3,000 meters above sea level. Along the Hengduan Mountains and the Nujiang Grand Canyon, the scenery is vast and magnificent, but it is also a road where falling debris, landslides, and mudslides are frequent. Mr. Hu sees travel on that highway as a unique life experience that he won’t forget.
In order to save time and cost and provide timely services and guidance, in addition to visiting each hospital in person, Mr. Hu also works on the management of the staff of the local distributor. He currently spends a large part of his time with the staff, providing them with training and assessment, and leading them to conduct in-depth communication with nearby hospitals. “Just like the current medical service in Tibet, our working way in Tibet should also change from the extensive operation in the past to a more systematic management. By training the agents, we can work more efficiently and adapt faster to the natural environment and culture of Tibet.”
image 3, image 4: The conditions in Tibet are complex and everchanging, ranging from the beautiful to the dangerous. Mr. Hu's trips to primary hospitals in remote areas are often filled with risks
Before coming to work in Tibet, Mr. Hu saw Tibet from the “tourist perspective” like many people. He learned about this snow-covered plateau and pure holy land from films like “Kong Fan Sen", “Kekexili”, and “Kang Rinpoche”.
Although having lived in Tibet for more than two years, he hasn’t really had time to explore the beauty because of his intensive work schedule. Despite how busy he has been, he has grown to appreciate the warmth and hospitality of Tibet. He is impressed by the honest and friendly relationship between people in Tibetan culture. He has made many good friends with local partners and customers and maintained a warm friendship with medical professionals.
Recently, on his way back from a hospital in Shigatse to Lhasa, Mr. Hu passed the holy lake Yamdrok. Under the shadow of the snow-capped mountains in the distance, the lake exudes a sacred jasper light just like when he first saw it. With a calm and peaceful feeling, he has never been so determined to bring medical hope to the people living here.
Mindray’s marketing teams throughout China play a significant role in bringing products and technologies to the front line of medical care and creating value for the company. However, the mission of Mindray goes beyond providing medical equipment and services. Mindray aims to be a trusted partner of medical institutions, to promote academic exchanges on a larger platform, and to contribute to the improvement of the whole medical industry.