Healthcare is perhaps the most important industry today. But this industry requires businesses to innovate and at the same time focus on the human side of healthcare. Hillrom, in business for more than 100 years, is a company that helps clinicians connect to their patients by delivering timely data and actionable insights at the point of care. Driven by patient-centered care, the company delivers products and technologies that enhance outcomes for patients and their caregivers.
We interviewed John Groetelaars, President and CEO of Hillrom, to learn more about his views on the industry and how Hillrom is leading in the medical space. Here are some excerpts from the interview.
Tell us about your journey so far at Hillrom and what progress you have witnessed since you joined?
What has surprised me the most in my nearly 20 months with Hillrom is the positive, rapid impact of our focus on culture. By focusing on innovation and a growth-oriented culture, one exemplified by diversity and inclusion and belonging, our level of collaboration is higher and our innovation is more impactful. Our financial results show that serving patients and their caregivers this way is also good for business.
The second area of progress that comes to mind is our pivot to a new vision of Advancing Connected Care and our increased investments in digital health. With our acquisition of Voalte in April 2019 and our focus on connectivity and medical device integration with electronic medical records and mobile devices, we are giving caregivers better insights in real-time.
Give us a gist about your products and services and tell us what makes you a frontrunner in the medical device industry.
Across our business, which has diversified significantly over the past five years, we now have medical technologies in hospitals, physician offices and homes. With smart, sensing hospital beds and vitals monitoring, operating tables that sync with robots, physical exam and vision care technology and connected respiratory health devices, we are working hard to enhance outcomes for patients, wherever they are.
Our leadership in the industry is built upon the 1.4 million connectable devices we have around the world. By better integrating and delivering the real-time data on these devices into the hands of caregivers, we can reduce complications and costs while improving quality for patients and workflow for caregivers.
Modern-day technologies and innovative practices have improved patient care. What kinds of initiatives are currently underway at Hillrom?
We are investing in innovation and bringing new medical device technologies to the market. Executing this kind of strategy led to fiscal 2019 revenue growth from new products of more than $450 million.
Broadly speaking, our investments center around the smart bed as the hub of integrated Care Communications; our Vision Care portfolio, which helps to diagnose diabetic retinopathy and general vision issues; improving physical assessment with new tools that enhance caregivers’ ability to accurately assess their patients’ conditions; enhancing Respiratory Health with wearables and acute care technologies for patients with cystic fibrosis, COPD and bronchiectasis; and innovations for the surgical suite that make patient positioning and access safer and more efficient. Beyond product innovations, we are undertaking a massive digital transformation to improve how we do business – much like our customers are.
What advice would you give to other healthcare leaders to help their team to thrive?
We’ve talked a lot about this as a leadership team. As I mentioned, we are focused on our culture, and are growing our corporate social responsibility presence through greater accountability and reporting. These are not only the right things to do. They pay large dividends in the areas of innovation, collaboration and performance, allowing teams to better focus on our customers’ needs. On the management side, we have outlined a clear management system that aligns with specific key performance indicators, and embraced organizational transformation to improve operational efficiency and speed with digital as an integrated enabler. It’s critical that these transformations receive proper investment, training and focus. And finally, we reinvest savings into strategic areas of future growth, scale and sustainability.
AI is one of the new buzzwords in healthcare and every other industry. Do you think healthcare companies must embrace AI?
Healthcare companies need to understand what challenges they seek to solve for patients. In that sense, AI can be very powerful. In our case –to cite two examples – we are using AI to deliver real-time insights based on patient data at the point of care, helping ensure that caregivers are focused where their attention is needed most. Our RetinaVue technology helps to diagnose diabetic retinopathy, the leading cause of blindness of working-age adults. It relies on AI to assess digital images and screen for the disease. We embrace AI because we see the benefits for patients and their caregivers.
What do you think is the next big thing in the healthcare industry?
From where I sit, the next big thing is already here. It’s all about enhanced connectivity, device and data integration, and providing actionable, real-time insights with specific AI solutions to improve quality and scale. What we’re doing at Hillrom will change healthcare as we know it.
Meet the Leader
Before Hillrom, Mr. Groetelaars most recently was executive vice president and president of the Interventional Segment at Becton, Dickinson and Company. He has held leadership roles in organizations like C.R. Bard, Davol Inc., and Boston Scientific. He is a member of the AdvaMed board of directors, and is a member of The Economic Club of Chicago.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Kettering University in Michigan, and an MBA from Columbia University in New York.
“We are focused on our culture, and are growing our corporate social responsibility presence through greater accountability and reporting.”