How do you as a leader drive change within your organization? In the last nine months of the pandemic, what kind of changes have you witnessed in decision-making for your organization?
The pandemic has really tested some of the unique gifts we have at J&J, given our global scale and reinforcement over a 130-year history. We utilized our local nimbleness, insight, and connectivity to get through this extraordinary time. When the pandemic first broke out in Wuhan, our local team had to take charge. They didn’t have a perfect playbook, but they had to lead on a global front. This was a good example that displayed leadership across the board.
Going forward, what kind of values will healthcare leaders need to inculcate?
I think the pandemic made the world very intimate. People are uniting with a common cause. The collaboration is not just inside a particular company, but importantly, outside the company. It couldn’t be a prouder moment than to see how the industry has started to come together to affect change in a positive manner for our patients and our customers.
In recent times, every business has seen a radical shift. So, what’s in-store for MedTech companies, especially in India?
The pandemic has given us a nudge to expand our capabilities and aim high. It has really forced us to focus on areas that were more nascent. Tele-mentoring and virtual case support are now here to stay. Look at how telemedicine is utilized, how people do pre-op differently, how people do post-op now, all this will be a good thing for patients. In the world of MedTech and healthcare systems, labor is their biggest cost. Therefore, MedTech players can look for collaborations on workflow management and on improving efficiencies. Aim to be a solution-driven company to really co-effect outcomes and make hospital systems more efficient and change how patients receive care.
What are your thoughts about the Asia Pacific market?
I keep it simple. Where are the patients? Where is their unmet need? What are the sources of innovation? And everything points to the future of Asia. There are seven billion people on the planet and where is the population going? Asia is the answer. This region is going to be leading the world, if you focus on patient care, that will follow you. Additionally, there is all the capability that now exists in tech and AI and data and the willingness to do collaborations, where we can co-create value for our customers.
It should also be a huge accelerator because of how Asia has led the world in managing COVID, from a scientific point of view, to healthcare management and hospital systems, and the use of technology and data. There’s a lot of capability and inspiration from Asia that can be an accelerant for the world and for the industry.
How can MedTech Industry in India accelerate and become self-reliant in increasing access to affordable and outcomes-centric healthcare?
MedTech in India presents a tremendous opportunity to address the key challenges of an increasing burden of non-communicable diseases including cancers, cardiovascular conditions, obesity, arthritis and diabetes. It will start with an innovation-fueled ecosystem of public and private healthcare entities, multinationals and local manufacturers including small and medium enterprises, traditional healthcare delivery systems, technology disrupters and scientific bodies. Ultimately, the commitment of innovative global and Indian MedTech companies to work together for the common goal of delivering innovative, access-oriented healthcare products and solutions to all.
Other key accelerators are uniform code of ethics for medical devices; quality and regulatory standards that are local in context but harmonized with global standards for India to become a hub for medical tourism and a MedTech exports powerhouse; world-class capabilities and partnerships in research, development, manufacturing and training. This list also includes investments in healthcare delivery infrastructure and surgical capacity; upskilling healthcare practitioners to increase standardized care especially in Tier II and III markets; quality-oriented segmented portfolios of products and solutions based on the complexity of disease management and affordability; and policies that reward innovation and protect intellectual property.
The world needs healthcare now more than ever, what are your thoughts for the industry looking ahead?
Healthcare is the business of humanity. We all have this unbelievable purpose to serve. We can be the conveners around the world to be in service of our patients, because if anything, we’ve learned one country can’t do it by itself. I could not be more inspired by not only our local J&J teams but how the industry is coming together in partnership to make sure that we have safe environments in hospitals, that we can serve patients in a different way using technology.
To all my industry colleagues, we need to stay safe, manage the fatigue factor and rejuvenate. Our customers are counting on us.
(The interview was done on the sidelines of the APAC Med Virtual Forum where she was the keynote speaker. )