Posters from Paris: You have been president of Medtronic France for two years now. What happened during this period?
Florence Dupre : A lot has happened, in an international economic context which has become tense following the Covid-19 pandemic. When I joined Medtronic, I became aware of the extent to which health technologies are levers of efficiency, serving the healthcare system. Their adoption and use generate better support; progress, but also savings. I didn’t know the health tech industry well. During these two years, I discovered what Medtronic was, I understood its DNA and its uniqueness, that is to say this ability to co-create with all the players in the ecosystem (the institutions, surgeons, patients and startups) innovative solutions that change medicine. Medtronic is present in more than 70 pathologies and is an important partner of the hospital since we go from the simple needle to the surgical robots, passing by the pacemakers…
We follow three development directions for innovation. First of all miniaturization: we always try to miniaturize the device. For example, today, we manage to develop extremely small pacemakers, which are no longer perceptible or visible to the patient. They are integrated directly into the heart and no longer under the skin. This technological feat allows real changes in the experience of the disease. First, the procedure is less invasive and reduces heavy and disabling surgeries. Since the pacemaker is no longer visible, the patient lives better with his disease. This desire to move towards less and less invasive surgeries also applies to oncology and neuroscience and has always been a strong focus at Medtronic. The second direction of development is the communication of technologies. Today, a heart monitor communicates and sends information. These data, coupled with algorithms, allow the device to detect signals, even very weak ones. The device alerts the doctor if there is a risk of syncope. Finally, Medtronic develops learning health technologies. We offer robotic surgical systems and platforms which, thanks to artificial intelligence and data collection, improve surgical practice and make the surgical gesture optimal and replicable. These same principle of communicating and learning device, applied to the treatment of diabetes, makes it possible to adapt the insulin to the lifestyle and the needs of the diabetic patient.
We co-create, with our ecosystem, efficient solutions that have a positive impact on the healthcare system. To deal with the resource problems from which hospitals suffer today, we know that the solutions developed make it possible to improve the organization of the healthcare system to better respond to public health issues. Innovation is not only technological but also organizational.
A.- P.: All these innovations require heavy investment. Do they come solely from private investors or are you supported by public institutions, by the State?
FD: Medtronic devotes a significant portion of its revenue to research and development. The company has also implemented an ambitious innovation plan. France holds a special place in these investments. Almost two years ago, the Innovation 2030 plan was announced, with the ambition of making France the country of health innovation. We largely welcome the financial and intellectual resources that have been put into this investment plan, while emphasizing the need to better integrate health technologies. As such, initially, medical devices were not part of the investment plan. We work with institutions and government departments so that they can understand how to use health technologies to improve the healthcare system. The financing of innovation remains complex because we are sometimes confronted with an administrative “millefeuille”. This is why we are calling for, while making very concrete proposals, a change in governance in the financing of health technologies, such as having a “one-stop shop”. Public and private partners need a more holistic system to take into account all the elements to advance health efficiency. Medtronic is very invested in this approach.
We believe that public-private partnerships are important. For example, Medtronic is one of the industrial partners of the Bopa Augmented Operating Block chair created by APHP, IMT and Paris Saclay. We work collectively to develop the operating theater of the future in order to reduce surgical risk and improve working conditions for the surgical team. The operating theater faces a paradoxical situation. It is made up of cutting-edge technologies producing large quantities of data, but this data is very little shared and even less exploited. With innovative start-ups, manufacturers, clinicians and academics, BOPA has set up a unique collaboration model in France and Europe to carry out innovation projects in the operating room and invent the future of surgery.
A.- P.: With regard to a “one-stop shop”, what do you suggest?
FD: A health innovation agency has just been created and its director appointed. We have already started the dialogue to confront our reflections and our points of view in order to make innovation grow. I think that the agency and its management will have a very good roadmap to write and even if we already know that this concept of one-stop shop does not seem to be able to be put in place from its inception, a more integrated approach to access to innovation is a major step forward. We are always ready to work on proposals so that the institution can make decisions and speed things up in this area of innovation that is so important for health and France.
A.- P.: To innovate, we need people and their brains. Do we manage today to attract them and keep them in France?
FD: We have to work on it because France has an absolutely incredible startup network. Investments by Business France and the Choose France summit are proof of the desire to create and develop a rich environment. For its part, Medtronic has set up a start-up accelerator a few years ago to support a certain number of them, create products with them and then offer them to healthcare systems and hospitals. This approach also offers a kind of economic seed to startups because Medtronic becomes their customer and they learn with us. Startups must in particular be aligned with our innovation values but also our human values such as inclusion and diversity. The human is really the key. As president, I pay a lot of attention to creating the framework in which everyone can be themselves, give the best of themselves and even challenge me by telling me that I am going in the wrong direction. The capacity for innovation means working together, listening to and learning from each other.
A.- P.: You are a European and international company. Precisely at the European level, is innovation well developed?
FD: Our development is at the same time French, European and global. France is very much a driving force in everything that happens in Europe, on digital health, it is in the process of putting in place a certain number of regulations in France and is a driving force for the implementation at European level of everything that is linked to it. We feel that Europe is much more into regulation, and the United States is more into liberalism. Beyond digital health, European regulations have evolved with the implementation of the MDR (Medical Device Regulation) which will impact the way in which accreditation is given to innovations. The application of this regulation goes through certifying bodies which must evaluate the thousands of existing and new solutions. However, there are not enough of them and the risk is that doctors and their patients can no longer have access to medical devices. A lot of things are being discussed at the moment but we know that France is very much a driving force in being pragmatic and moving towards more quality.
A.-P.: How do you see the technological future of Medtronic and healthcare in general?
FD: The world is changing. There are energy issues of cost and scarcity of raw materials. Medtronic is committed to continuing to care for patients who need our solutions and to improve access to patients who cannot currently benefit from them. So we continue to develop our technologies and our solutions. As a company, we must succeed in integrating sustainable growth, both ecologically and economically. So we are working on our internal processes. We think about prioritizing, optimizing and simplifying while developing the best devices. To be sober in our investments, we must learn to work better together, to create value together and thus make the teams grow. This is what will enable us to face the challenges of tomorrow with limited resources. We will need more intelligence, more being-together, even in a digital world, more collective. My role is to create this collective internally and to establish links with our entire ecosystem so that the French men and women who need our technologies can have access to them in the world of tomorrow, not in the world of yesterday.
A.- P.: You have trained ambassadors at Medtronic France. What does it consist of ? More generally, how important are your employees in the development of the company?
FD: We call them “transformers”. These are people trained in innovation techniques who go to startups to help them develop and who take the opportunity to learn to work in a small structure, to have much shorter innovation cycles. We offer our employees the opportunity to grow by creating value. We give them time to come up with innovative proposals. Innovation at Medtronic France affects all areas including diversity and occupational health. I pay a lot of attention to ensuring that our employees feel good, because that is how we will achieve our goals of improving patient health. Taking care of its teams and their development is a real vector of growth for the company. We have developed a program, Odet, for Objectives, Development and Evolution of our Talents. At Medtronic, each person has talent, so we are thinking about the different professions of tomorrow to find in our teams the people who will be able to train and evolve. We define a career path that everyone can follow according to their skills and interests. Medtronic France makes a big investment in human capital because it’s the best thing you have in a company and it’s priceless.
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Medtronic: Towards a more efficient and humane healthcare system through technology and innovation
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