Efficiency boost through digitisation

Text: editorial staff “ceo” Magazine | Images: Markus Bertschi | Magazine: Life & Science – July 2017

Self-made entrepreneur Antoine Hubert founded the second-largest group of private hospitals in Switzerland. As an investor, he is constantly looking out for new promising investments in the life sciences sector. He believes the healthcare system is on the cusp of profound change.

When Antoine Hubert checks his smart watch, he doesn’t only read the time or looks up who is calling him. The device on his wrist also monitors his heartbeat and all his fitness activities. It is something like an insurance against health issues for the 51-year-old who has been incorporating, purchasing and selling companies for 30 years and is constantly travelling for his job. However, he also carries it because he sees it as a symbol for the new technologies that are going to change our relationship with medicine and health.

“In the next five to ten years, we will witness two major developments in the healthcare sector that will have far-reaching consequences: digitisation and global service providers,” says Hubert. Already today he sees Google, Apple and Swisscom as future competition. In Switzerland, it is service providers such as Migros that invest in the healthcare sector and envisage new digital activities.

Focusing on an extended lifespan

“Algorithms help enhance diagnoses. And digital monitoring, for example in radiology, is much more precise than traditional methods,” says Hubert. This is why financially sound US corporates have already stated entering healthcare markets.

“For small clinics, it will become more difficult to survive on their own.”

In the 1990s, Hubert acted as a real estate investor and bought a private hospital in the Vaudois viticultural village of Genolier high above Lake Geneva. He restructured it successfully, which was the spark for his interest in this field. From this one venture, he grew Swiss Medical Network, a network of 16 clinics and the second-largest on the market. As an example, the group is involved in the better-aging sector, providing products and services under the brand of Nescens.

Consolidation in the hospital market

“For small clinics, it will become more difficult to survive on their own,” says the delegate of the Swiss Medical Network. According to him, it will be essential to specialise in certain medical areas, also as a regional service provider. He thinks it is likely that in the near future, five to ten additional hospitals will join the group. This would give the network the necessary size to expand internationally.

Introducing new technologies to the medical sector is part of Hubert’s mission. He has also reactivated a foundation which supports doctors in applying efficient therapies that have not been accepted into the regulated compensation scheme and thus provide little incentive to use them. “We were the first to use the intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) for treating breast cancer. Thanks to administering a radiation dosage during operation, this therapy is faster and more efficient than traditional methods,” says Hubert. He is convinced that digitisation will trigger an efficiency boost in the healthcare sector.

Antoine Hubert (51) is one of the majority shareholders and delegate of the Board of Directors of Aevis Victoria, domiciled in Fribourg. The holding company is listed on the Swiss stock exchange and invests in the healthcare sector, in life sciences, medical care and lifestyle services. Among its holdings are Switzerland’s second-largest group of private clinics, Swiss Medical Network, as well as Luxury hotel group Victoria-Jungfrau Collection, and telemedicine centre Medgate. At the age of 21, Hubert became self-employed after completing his apprenticeship as an electrician. He has been investing in new projects and enterprises ever since. He lives in Crans-Montana VS with his family.


Creating a comfortable, pleasant environment for regeneration

Electronic patient files, which Swiss Medical Network intends to introduce throughout its entire network, will likely improve patient care considerably. Hubert is mostly concerned with the well-being of the patients: “Why do hospitals have to actually smell of hospital, and why is everything so white and bleak?,” he asks. Wherever renovation or conversions are planned for the buildings of Swiss Medical Network’s hospitals, the group endeavours to eliminate the existing, stigmatised reputation that sticks to them. “A pleasant environment is crucial for a speedy recovery.”

“Revolutions are always brought about by new challengers.”

Antoine Hubert is planning to use synergies between the private clinics and the luxury hotels of the Victoria-Jungfrau Collection, which form part of the holding company Aevis Victoria. “40 per cent of the work carried out in a hospital is actually a range of hotel services.” While in the hotel sector, companies such as booking.com or Airbnb have already reshuffled the cards with their digital offers, he is convinced that the healthcare sector has yet to face this development and will be going in the same direction. “Revolutions are always brought about by new challengers.”