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Outgoing leader of operations for Siemens USA looks back


On June 30, Thomas N. McCausland will retire from Siemens. In an exclusive interview with DI SCAN, McCausland discusses his approach to the U.S. business since taking over in 1996, his major accomplishments, and how they were achieved.

On June 30, Thomas N. McCausland will retire from Siemens, formally handing his responsibilities in sales, service, and logistics to Heinrich Kolem, Ph.D. In the decade he served as president of the Customer Solutions Group for Siemens Medical Solutions USA, McCausland increased Siemens' U.S. revenues by 500% through organic growth and acquisitions. Half the company's worldwide revenues now come from Siemens' medical sales in the U.S.

In an exclusive interview with DI SCAN, McCausland discusses his approach to the U.S. business since taking over in 1996, his major accomplishments, and how they were achieved.

DI SCAN: Before coming to Siemens Medical, you were in charge of sales and marketing for the company's energy and automation business. What was the transition like?

McCausland: Certainly I learned a lot about the dynamics of the medical marketplace. The economics of medicine are so much different from the economics of other businesses. And medical is just a tremendously fascinating business, with customers ranging from 550,000 individual physicians to huge institutions like the Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic. Each one has individual needs and each of those customers has an impact on somebody's healthcare.

DI SCAN: Aside from the economics and diversity, what else is challenging?

McCausland: I would say the intensity of what we do. In healthcare, we are dealing with patients. We are responsible for helping to ensure quality of care, positive patient outcomes, and keeping costs down. These all have to be taken into account. And there is no time off. We have always said that, if it's Christmas day and something happens that requires your attention, you need to get involved.

DI SCAN: Did your management style change 10 years ago when you switched to Siemens Medical?

McCausland: I don't think it changed dramatically. My particular skills are in building cooperation and teamwork, combining the input of customers with the needs of healthcare nationally. Our ability to deliver technology moved us from being strictly a supplier of equipment to much more of a solution provider. That requires a lot of collaboration and cooperation. It means we have to work seamlessly in a global network within Siemens to make sure people developing products outside the U.S. know the dynamics of this healthcare market and to make sure those are integrated into product design.

DI SCAN: The period you served at Siemens Medical was really an evolutionary period for the industry as a whole. Vendors seem to have moved toward the position Siemens has marked for itself.

McCausland: If you look today at how hospitals and imaging centers operate and how they conduct their relationships with suppliers, it is much more on a total-solutions basis. They are focused on the quality of outcomes rather than just on how many procedures they can do. It's how those outcomes relate to specific disease. I think the industry changed during my time in this job and the change fit well into the skill sets I had and continued developing.

The other thing I am very proud of is how we integrate the various businesses around the world, those in Asia and Europe and the U.S. We all recognized that there were strengths around the globe and taking advantage of integrating those strengths was a major emphasis of our CEO, Dr. Erich Reinhardt. The true global approach was a concept I absolutely believed in and was one of the reasons I took the job, because my vision fit right into Erich's.

DI SCAN: That was one of your achievements. What were some of your others?

McCausland: Absolute growth. Going from what was a weak number two or number three to a strong market position in the U.S. Getting Siemens MR, with Heinrich Kolem, to have the number-one product in the U.S.

Building a strong team is the third. This business, like all others, is a people business and you have to have strong people with strong relationships to customers. We value people's longevity in the healthcare industry in that they know the industry, they know the customers and they build relationships with our customers. That is important because, at the end of the day, this is a very personal business. We have a great team in that respect, from R&D in defining our products all the way through service and caring for the products after they are built and installed.

DI SCAN: You mentioned quality and outcomes in the same breath as managing costs. How do you address all those goals simultaneously?

McCausland: It's all about how products get integrated into the workflow of radiologists or cardiologists or orthopedic specialists so we can help them perform their tasks better, improve the quality, increase patient satisfaction, and at the same time - if we do our job right - cut costs. There's no better example than using imaging to eliminate costly and painful procedures like open heart surgery with minimally invasive ones. It's the result of good imaging. We've made an impact on the comfort of the patient, as well as the cost of care.

DI SCAN: Last point. You mentioned Siemens' success with MR. It's become the jewel in Siemens' North American marketplace crown. Will it continue to be that?

McCausland: MR is such a powerful diagnostic tool and we keep finding more and more applications, not just in pure imaging but in the molecular world as well. It is such a great research tool. We know the future will be really strong. It is the flagship for what I would say has been radiology's promise for the last 10 years.

It is somewhat similar to what molecular imaging will be for the next 10 years. MR will be part of molecular imaging, as it combines anatomical imaging, functional analysis, and spectroscopy. The molecular side all comes together in MR.

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