Varian Medical Systems: fighting cancer with tech innovation

Varian Medical Systems: fighting cancer with tech innovation

Yogeshkumar Ratnakumar, Director of Business Transformation at Varian Medical Systems on its digital approach to create a world without fear of cancer...

Drawing on his 18 years’ experience within the healthcare sector and his Masters in Medical Physics, Yogeshkumar Ratnakumar, has held various positions at Nucletron and Siemens Healthineers during that time, Ratnakumar believes that navigating these different roles has given him a broad perspective of the happenings within the sector, stating “I have seen the level of interconnectivity, coordination and support required just within the departments at Varian Medical Systems to deliver the satisfying customer experiences that strengthen relationships.”

As the Director of Business Transformation at Varian Medical Systems, Ratnakumar describes the company as “very unique. Varian combines the ingenuity of people with the power of data and technology to achieve our fundamental goal ‘to create a world without fear of cancer’, which I believe makes a huge difference compared to other companies.” Over the last four and a half years working at Varian Medical Systems, Ratnakumar has seen the organization embark on multiple strategic initiatives, including its transformation from a radiation oncology organization into a complete cancer care organization” he explains.

Digital transformation at Varian Medical Systems

“The technological innovation in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) and data, has contributed to a lot of changes in the healthcare sector in the past 10 years - I would say - It has provided a lot of support to healthcare professionals to make informed decisions and guide them to face greater challenges with greater confidence,” comments Ratnakumar. 

“We innovate constantly, especially to create intelligent products, AI goes hand in hand with our digitization and our investments in IoT for remote monitoring and servicing of our treatment delivery platforms.

Our fundamental data strategy relies on an intelligent ecosystem that continuously improves the level of care clinicians provide patients. This intelligence empowers them to make informed decisions in the fight against cancer. We have multiple initiatives across the organization all working to harness data from a variety of sources that leverage machine learning and AI to improve the ability to deliver extremely high quality care globally.”

Adopting innovative technology

Varian Medical Systems wants to create an intelligent cancer care system by harnessing innovative technology such as AI, and machine learning to convert data into insights. “We strive to bring people together around a holistic view of each patient, and to enable appropriate multidisciplinary cancer care. In addition, we have also taken a learning ecosystem approach to serve as an information bridge between clinics to streamline workflow and processes.”

In the past five years, Ratnakumar has seen Varian Medical Systems successfully transform several of its business functions. As a result, the organization has a fantastic foundation to evolve as its customers evolve. “At the root of our transformation is intense focus on what we do, why we do it the way we do, and the impact those actions have on our operations.”

Varian Medical Systems has been an innovative company since its founding in 1948, creating intelligent products to support its customer’s fight to cure cancer and reimagine patient treatment.

With this in mind Ratnakumar sees Varian Medical Systems as a pioneer within the healthcare sector in adapting innovative technologies. “Machine learning is a key component of our strategy for facilitating innovation,” says Ratnakumar. In 2014, Varian Medical Systems was the first company to develop machine learning products for radiation therapy for the treatment of cancer.

In addition, we are also using machine learning across multiple areas to drive predictive and proactive triggers to ensure smooth operations both internally and externally.

Moving on to artificial intelligence he continues, “our use of this technology is very human centric, In 2019, we have launched AI driven Ethos Radiotherapy system, which is helping clinicians in the field today.”

Recently We have started RPA internally for repeatable and predictable tasks to better place the focus of people onto bigger problems.”

A startup mentality, cultural changes and partnerships

When driving its innovation strategy, Ratnakumar explains that Varian Medical Systems adopts a startup mentality. “The basics of digital transformation is to be agile and adaptive to prototyping. A mentality which is common among startup organizations. So, at Varian we have been driving agility and prototyping within our operations in order to be adaptive to achieve our core mission goals.”

Helping the organization to adopt this mindset and drive innovation is its people excites Ratnakumar. Reflecting on the workforce at Varian Medical Systems, Ratnakumar believes that the organization is blessed with people that of which we are proud “We have a strong value system at Varian, we drive individual connections to drive cultural change, which is critical to adopting new technologies and adapting processes.

When it comes to its Enterprise application partners, Ratnakumar highlights key components that the organization looks for. “The first is a co-creation mindset, this is important for agility and prototyping. A co-creation mindset will coincide with this adaptive mindset, products like Salesforce FSL have helped improve field service user experience. We also look for partners like Accenture who can support us in providing different perspectives to the industry standards, as well as someone who can provide advice on sustainable investments for solutions and who can work with us to develop proof of concepts (POCs) as well as the final component.

Reflecting on the organization’s biggest strengths, Ratnakumar doesn’t hesitate to attribute this title to its people, “our people and our interconnected value system are our biggest strengths. Our biggest success is the amount of lives that we have touched over the years and we won't stop, every day we want to touch.”

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