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Medtronic Vietnam: Driving healthcare access for everyone

By Do An

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Medtronic, one of the world’s largest medical technology companies, has played a vital role in driving healthcare transformation in Vietnam since 2012. Through advanced technologies and strategic healthcare partnerships, the company is revolutionizing treatment options and improving lives across the nation.

Transformative impact on healthcare

Paul Verhulst, vice president of mainland Southeast Asia at Medtronic, recognizes the progress Vietnam has made . “Vietnam’s healthcare landscape has seen significant changes recently,” Verhulst told The Saigon Times. Expanding patient access is central to this transformation, he added.

In Vietnam, the Government’s ambitions to improve healthcare services are evident. The nation has increased its patient beds and doctor-patient ratios, and strived towards universal healthcare coverage by 2030, in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Data by the Ministry of Health showed that in 2023, the country’s target was 12 physicians per 10,000 residents but the realized ratio was 12.5 physicians per 10,000. The number of hospital beds per 10,000 people met the target of 32 beds. About 93% of the Vietnamese population of 100 million now have access to health insurance coverage.

That said, major gaps remain in the country’s healthcare landscape despite these advancements. “We estimate 30% of the population still lacks proper healthcare access,” noted Verhulst. High cost, geographical distance, limited healthcare expertise, and outdated infrastructure are among the major hindrances, especially in rural areas.

For years, Medtronic has advocated collaborative solutions to address healthcare challenges in Vietnam. Its commitment has shone through partnerships with hospitals, innovative training programs for healthcare professionals, and local device manufacturing – all aimed at widening access to health services and empowering healthcare workers nationwide.

At Medtronic, the focus of operations is laid on its patient-first mindset

At Medtronic, the endeavor includes combating non-communicable diseases (NCDs). These devastating conditions claim a staggering 41 million lives each year globally – 74% of all deaths, according to the World Health Organization. Vietnam has been grappling with its own NCD challenges, especially in mountainous regions where limited healthcare and education compound the risk, as revealed by a 2022 PLOS One study.

Medtronic has met this urgent need head-on, offering minimally invasive therapies for those Vietnamese patients battling NCDs. “Early detection and timely treatment are crucial with NCDs,” Verhulst said, adding that Medtronic has partnered with Government agencies to train doctors throughout the country. The effort ensures better care for patients, as they can “get into the hospital systems as quickly as possible, with skilled healthcare professionals and the right therapies readily available.”

Medtronic also operates a medical manufacturing facility in HCMC, besides two offices with over  550 employees in Hanoi and HCMC. While primarily for export, the facility in Vietnam’s southern metropolis has reflected Medtronic’s long-term commitment to the country’s healthcare sector.

Wider patient access driven by technology and partnerships

Collaboration is the cornerstone of Medtronic’s approach. “While we are a leading player in the healthcare industry, with products treating 70 health conditions and therapies helping 75 million people every year, partnerships with other medical companies, hospitals, and the Government are essential.”

A united effort is indeed pivotal for optimal patient care. Administrative bodies, medical technology companies, and hospitals should work together to prioritize patients in all decisions. In this regard, the success hinges on Government-led health awareness campaigns, cutting-edge medical solutions, and strategic investments in hospital infrastructure working in synergy.

Medtronic’s partnerships with key Vietnamese institutions like Hue Central Hospital in Thua Thien-Hue Province, the Vietnam National Heart Association, and Hospital E in Hanoi City have underscored this commitment. Through these collaborations, doctors and physicians nationwide are learning the latest techniques in minimally invasive therapies, improving care in multiple fields.

“Medtronic cannot do this alone,” said Verhulst. “All of Medtronic’s partnerships ultimately aim to improve patient outcomes and access to care.”

Medtronic Vietnam has signed a MOU with Hue Central Hospital in training programs for doctors

Currently, technology is both a driver and a tool in healthcare transformation. Medtronic sees artificial intelligence (AI) and internet of things (IoT) playing a significant role in addressing access gaps by aiding faster, more accurate diagnoses. “AI does not replace doctors, but it helps them make more informed decisions and more precise diagnostics,” noted Verhulst.

With a focus on hands-on experiences and international collaborations, Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), a complex therapy for Parkinson’s disease, is now more accessible due to the company’s physician training programs. Additionally, cryoablation for atrial fibrillation, a minimally invasive technique, addresses a treatment gap while enhancing patient outcomes and reducing hospital stays.

Medtronic is also introducing robotic-assisted surgery, empowering surgeons with greater precision, especially in complex procedures, while maintaining full control. Its Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI) technology, a less invasive solution for severe aortic stenosis, further enhances heart health outcomes nationwide.

The path ahead with patients and innovation in focus

Globally, Medtronic’s tech helps two people every second. In Vietnam, Medtronic had a positive impact on 120,000 patients in 2023. The company’s ambition continues, with a goal of reaching 150,000 patients this year. Building upon the achievements made during its decades-long journey, Medtronic’s goal is clear: healthcare access for all people through transformative medical technologies.

It is worth mentioning that Medtronic’s commitment extends beyond medical innovation. Its dedication to social responsibility shines through employee volunteer programs and partnerships with local organizations. These efforts, focused on addressing community needs and fostering health, directly reflect Medtronic’s broader mission of improving lives.

This commitment has earned Medtronic significant recognition. Prestigious awards like “Best Companies to Work for in Asia” by HR Asia and “Vietnam’s Best Workplaces” by Great Place To Work acknowledge both their positive impact on Vietnam’s healthcare landscape and the supportive environment they have created for their employees.

Creating a supportive environment for employees is among top priorities at Medtronic

As for the upcoming plan, Medtronic will continue  to bring essential care and cutting-edge technologies to underserved areas beyond major cities. More importantly, Medtronic will actively partner with the Government, various healthcare stakeholders, and other medical companies to maximize the benefits of new technologies.

“What drives me, and everyone here at Medtronic, is expanding healthcare access to every single patient in Vietnam. Our mission is to overcome barriers – geographical challenges, hospital infrastructure, and the need for continued training,” said Verhulst.

With innovation, a patient-first mindset, and deep collaborations, Medtronic is striving for a healthier, more equitable society in Vietnam.

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