Data privacy and security is an emerging ESG issue for healthcare, Medtronic tells IR Magazine Forum – Healthcare

“Healthcare as an industry has very strong ties to ESG in many different ways,” said Ryan Weispfenning, vice president and head of investor relations at Medtronic, the world’s largest medical device maker.

Speaking today at the IR Magazine Forum – Healthcare, Weispfenning said that by nature the healthcare industry is close to many of the principles of ESG. “We create innovative products to improve the health of people and give them access to them all over the world. It fits pretty well with what ESG stands for,” he told Steven Wade, IR magazineresponsible for the event content of .

Across the industry, he noted, issues around innovation and access are important. “Things like patient safety and product quality matter a lot – they’re pretty important to healthcare companies. Making sure that what we do is safe, that we rigorously test these things before giving them to humans, and that we have ongoing monitoring to make sure that if [issues do] pop-ups when these products are used, that we can spot these things quickly and act quickly”, are all important for companies operating in the healthcare sector.

The forum is the second in a series of virtual industry conferences that will take place over the coming year. Already this week there was an event focusing on RI in the technology, media and telecommunications sector, while future events will cover finance and real estate, industrials, energy, extractive industries and utilities and consumer goods.

Areas such as affordability and fair pricing are also issues facing health care as a whole, he added. “We create really innovative products, but sometimes prices can get in the way of access to these products in certain markets. How do you balance those trade-offs?

For ESG’s E, Weispfenning said “product stewardship” is the broad term the industry uses “to think about how much waste [we are] creation”, for example, when a medical device is shipped, it is usually in a sterile container, with additional packaging. He added that this is something that healthcare companies are actively considering: “How can we reduce this packaging while still providing a very safe product?”

On the social front, an area of ​​growing focus for business in general, but healthcare in particular, is “making sure we attract the best and brightest workforce to our businesses.” “said Weispfenning. “Inclusion, diversity and equity are really important topics at Medtronic,” he explained.

Data privacy

For Medtronic, which produces everything from heart, bone and brain devices to robots that facilitate surgery, a growing area of ​​ESG attention is data privacy.

Weispfenning said device security — essentially cybersecurity — and its impact on medical devices was an emerging area for the company. “It’s an ESG topic that comes up quite often and relates to things like privacy and data security – so patients who have these products feel not only safe, but also there is an expectation of privacy around the data these devices create.’ It’s a question that feeds into ethics as well as sales and marketing, he added, including questions about how distributors conduct themselves on behalf of the company.

The all-actor approach

Weispfenning also spoke about Medtronic’s approach to ESG materiality: The company has been producing a materiality report for about a decade, which he said involves going out and interviewing a range of stakeholders.

“I was interviewed, other key leaders were interviewed – we interviewed some of our investors, we interviewed our clients, there were also government stakeholders – so it was quite broad,” he explained.

What exactly does Medtronic ask when surveying these stakeholders? The company asks what people know about Medtronic and general questions such as what is most important to them and where the company should focus.

‘When you do [a survey like this] it’s really starting to refine where you should be focusing,” Weispfenning said, adding that feedback from the latest round of interviews saw the company focus on three areas: innovation and access; patient safety and product quality; and inclusion, diversity and equity. These are the areas “where we really believe we can make a difference and we have aligned our ESG objectives with these and set out public commitments to achieve them”.

To learn more about the IR Magazine – Healthcare Forum or access a replay of the event, please click here.

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