As the "Open Innovations" Forum in Moscow is in full swing presenting new cutting edge technologies, Steven Oesterle, Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategy and Innovation at Medtronic Inc., in an interview to Voice of Russia outlined what his company has to contribute to the global development of technology.
Could you tell us about innovations that your company is developing and working on?
"Medtronic is the world's largest medical device company and I like to think that we’ve been innovating for more than 60 years. It is an old company by any standard, but still actually rapidly growing."
"We are focused on innovations for treating people with chronic degenerative diseases, which, of course, are many in Russia. So, to give you some examples of innovations that we have developed that are being used here in Russia, probably the most common thing that most of your listeners would know about are metal scaffolds, or structures, that are put inside to treat heart attack patients with coronary disease."
"We also make cardiac valves that are used for people who have degenerative disease of the valves inside the heart. We've done this for many years. The company was founded on developing a cardiac pacemaker, which is an electrical device, which is placed in the body and stimulates the heart, when people’s heart is beating too slowly."
"We also make cardiac rhythm devices for hearts that are going too fast. So, this is oftentimes the cause of what we call ‘sudden cardiac death' and we make an implantable defibrillator, you are probably aware of, you see, these external devices that can shock people who die suddenly in airports or auditoriums. We make a device that is actually implanted inside the chest that monitors the heart rhythm and, when it senses the rhythm that is potentially threatening to the patient’s life, it shocks them. It is called implanted cardiac defibrillator."
Do you cooperate with Russian companies in these spheres or do you develop all these projects on your own?
"At the moment there are no major Russian device companies that we can cooperate with. We do a lot of training of Russian physicians. What is interesting about innovation and medical devices is that most of our innovation comes fr om the bedside. Doctors working on patients and struggling with the problem and saying there must be a better way to do this. And so we rely on physicians, doctors to help us innovate, and to that extent we do cooperate with Russian doctors, but we also participate in the training of Russian doctors."
In your opinion, is Russia a good market for investments?
“I think Russia is one of the best places I go in the world for finding the combination of good doctors, good engineering, good software. There is only 2-3 places like this in the world, so I do think it is a good place to come and invest.”
What do you think about the Obamacare and all this situation, which led to the US shutdown because of the Obamacare?
"These are really political issues, I don’t comment usually on political issues. I think that everyone should have access to healthcare in the world, and right now more than 5 billion people don’t have access to healthcare. There are things that we can help with, but certainly in America everybody should have access to healthcare. There is enough money there. We spend nearly 18% of the GDP on healthcare. The shutdown of the government was a very political thing, it had nothing to do exactly with Obamacare."
What are the main weak points in Obamacare?
"I don't think there are weak points. Basically, the goal of President Obama with his healthcare legislation was to try to extend access to healthcare to more than 35 million Americans who didn’t have any. The weakness, if there is one, America has always been fiercely independent and people don’t like to be told what to do there. It is a true democracy wh ere people feel they can do whatever they want. The weakness is there’s no any money to pay for it.