Further, Together: Medtronic Employee Efforts Support Business Sustainability

Feb 9, 2016 11:00 AM ET

Further, Together: Employee Efforts Support Business Sustainability

At Medtronic our approach to sustainable growth involves careful management of key issues such as access to healthcare, product quality, ethics in sales and marketing, responsible sourcing, and environmental stewardship. Our performance related to these important issues is detailed in the Company’s FY2015 integrated performance report, “Further Together.”

Success is a Collective Effort

Many of these issues are deeply rooted in our Mission, and by embedding the Mission in our daily work every employee contributes to the Company’s long-term success and commitment to fulfilling the economic, social, and environmental expectations of this and future generations. Below are case studies from the FY15 integrated report which illustrate how employees are contributing to our long-term sustainability.

Combatting Hearing Loss through Increased Diagnosis and Treatment

Around the world, nearly 360 million people endure chronic ear infections and disabling hearing loss.  Nine in 10 people affected live in emerging markets without adequate access to care. In India, the problem is particularly pervasive — 77 percent of the population who suffer from chronic ear infections also suffer some form of hearing impairment due to a lack of health education or limited access to ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialists.

Led by Medtronic’s Surgical Technologies team, our groundbreaking Shruti program (meaning “to hear” in Hindi) bridges this gap by equipping community health workers in poor urban neighborhoods in India and Bangladesh with ear screening kits. The program, done in partnership with 10 local and international organizations, also employs a mobile diagnostic tool and a treatment management smartphone app that enables the community workers to quickly screen individuals, submit results to ENT doctors for review, and refer patients for treatment.

Now in its third year, Shruti operates at five sites in India and Bangladesh, including three that opened in FY2015. Shruti has screened nearly 115,000 patients. Of these, more than 43,000 have been referred to specialist care and 3,800 have undergone treatment with local healthcare providers.

Ethical Use of Animal Research

For many types of products, regulatory requirements necessitate animal research and testing. At Medtronic, we look for ways to replace, refine, and reduce animal testing wherever possible. Medtronic toxicologist Kelly Coleman has been on a quest to reduce animal testing for more than two decades. Coleman has won two Medtronic Quest grants to research human cell-based alternatives to animal testing for skin irritation. The current industry standard uses rabbits, which are more sensitive than humans to skin irritation and can lead to overprediction in lab testing. In testing newer epidermal models that use human skin cells, Coleman found that they can improve accuracy. His team’s findings were published in the journal Toxicology in Vitro and received the Society of Toxicology’s Best Medical Device Paper Award in 2014.

In FY2016, an ISO Technical Committee is sponsoring an international validation study to confirm Coleman’s findings. The study includes more than a dozen laboratories, and if the findings are validated, it could lead to changes in ISO standards that allow in vitro human skin assays to replace rabbit skin irritation tests in evaluation of medical devices. “If we could replace animal tests with in vitro methods,” Coleman says, “it would save time and money, plus spare the lives of thousands of animals used throughout the medical device industry.”

Using Clean Energy to Power Our Facilities

Fuel cells are innovative low-carbon energy solutions that reduce the climate impact of energy production. In November 2014, Medtronic installed our first natural gas fuel cell system at our facility in Santa Rosa, California. Provided by Bloom Energy, the system generates low carbon energy by using fuel cells to convert natural gas into electricity. Each year, the fuel cell system will cut over 500 metric tons of carbon emissions generated by our site — the equivalent of taking 116 cars off the road — and save $2.3 million.

As an added benefit, it will reduce electricity-related water usage by more than 3 million gallons. “This installation symbolizes Medtronic’s long-standing commitment to energy conservation and doing right by the environment,” says Erik Kunz, Medtronic’s Director of EHS and Facilities in Santa Rosa. “We’re pleased to be the first facility in our company to adopt this exciting technology and bring its value to our triple bottom line.”

Learn more by viewing the complete integrated report.