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Using Innovation to Meet Health Care Needs in Asia

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From Michael del Prado, Company Group Chairman, Medical Devices & Diagnostics, Asia-Pacific.

The other week, I attended the opening of the Johnson & Johnson Medical Companies Innovation Center in Suzhou, China, our first medical devices and diagnostics innovation center in China and our second in Asia.  The opening of this center comes at a very special time for Johnson & Johnson -- during our 125th anniversary year -- and it continues one of our oldest traditions as a company:  working to meet unmet health care needs. 

The Asia-Pacific region of the world where I live and work is home to almost 60 percent of the world’s population, but many people in these emerging economies lack access to quality health care.   That’s something we want to help change. 

Johnson & Johnson has been doing business in China, India and other Asian countries for a very long time, first selling our products through local distributors and later opening operating companies in Asia, well ahead of many other multinationals.  We’ve had companies in China since 1982, but access to many of our products centered around the main population centers like Shanghai or Beijing.   The Suzhou Innovation Center will allow us to better serve the millions of men, women and children outside of the main population centers in China who are now gaining access to some degree of healthcare coverage. 

I am proud of the role that our company has played in helping transform people’s lives across Asia, through our training programs for health care professionals and hospital administrators, and through the philanthropic programs we support.   We also market an outstanding portfolio of medical devices and diagnostic products that help doctors in most countries across the Asia-Pacific region care for people with a wide range of conditions prevalent here, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis and obesity.

The new Johnson & Johnson Medical Companies Innovation Center in China, combined with an existing innovation center in India, is designed to take all of this great work a step further.  The engineers in these centers are being asked to create products specifically for Asia’s medical professionals and patients.  Our plan is to use local insights and local unmet needs to help us better adapt and refine our existing medical devices and diagnostic products for doctors, nurses, hospitals and patients in Asia, and to pursue adjacent and new spaces in response to the specific needs of Asian healthcare professionals and patients.  Our Consumer business has a similar innovation center in Shanghai to do the same with consumer products.

This means looking at medical needs through a broader lens and developing devices for disease states that are prevalent in Asia-Pacific.  It means developing simplified or smaller instruments that better suit the conditions and capabilities in rural health settings, or creating multi-use and disposable products that are better suited to local economies.   

There’s an intrinsic value in locating people in this community, close to customers, so they can see first-hand the needs and opportunities. Locating this Innovation Center in Suzhou will also allow us to continue to collaborate with many of the leading specialists in China, to gain their insights as we develop new products to meet their needs and the needs of their patients.

We are looking forward to being able to help transform many more lives by bringing the promise of good health to more people across the Asia-Pacific region.

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