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Fran Kaufman Part 6, Medtronic Mission

In part 6, the conclusion of this Exclusive Interview, Dr. Francine Kaufman talks with Diabetes in Control Publisher Steve Freed during the ADA meeting in San Diego, California, about maintaining a position in the market and the importance of customer service.

Dr. Francine Kaufman was named Chief Medical Officer and Vice President of Global Medical, Clinical and Health Affairs in April 2009. In this role, Dr. Kaufman is the key architect of the company’s global diabetes strategy, as well as a leading voice for multidisciplinary medical strategy across Medtronic.

Transcript of this video segment:

Steve: I’ve been reading a lot about Medtronic. Only like 80% of the pump market and your competitors are slowly dwindling away. I remember Deltec and they’re gone. It really boils down to, there’s only so many type 1 patients and that means it can only support so many pump companies. Medtronic is only at the market pretty much from day one. I guess even when Al Mann was around.

Dr. Kaufman: Well, it was Al who owned the market originally. He was the only one in it when he first developed it.

Steve: Obviously Medtronic is in a good position right now and from what you’re saying, you’re developing things that is going to keep you in that position for a long time.

Dr. Kaufman: Our focus is really helping people with diabetes, so we would like to get behind just the pump and the sensor and even get beyond, obviously, the automation of insulin delivery, to expand to a broader population of people with diabetes, to broader needs. Looking at more unmet needs that we’ve had in the past. We’ve worked very hard to be a responsible partner with people with diabetes, people and their healthcare providers. We have a vast network of clinicians that we’ve helped train. We have a lot of support through our helpline. It does take a village for a lot of people to use diabetes technology. Maybe that it will get easier as time goes on. I think part of our success has been not only innovating and continuing to push the envelope on the devices themselves but really partnering with the patient population and offering the services that they need, the support that they need, the education that they need.

Steve: How important is customer service?

Dr. Kaufman: Well, I would tell you that the most important thing is customer service. It’s getting to understand what the patient problem is, being sure that we can answer, help them solve those problems. Some of them are very idiosyncratic, some of them are very broad-based across the larger population. I think the voice of the customer where the customer comes first…I’ve really been there not even that long, but I would tell you that we have become a patient-at-the center company. It’s been a migration, it’s been a change. It was a company started, when Al started it, an engineer-at-the-center, an engineer trying to solve the problems, and they did a great job, but that’s not the world anymore. The voice of the customer, the patient ability to giet information, the patient on the web communicating Patient to Patient, that’s what we’re really interested in. How can we help in that arena? How can we answer broader issues for people and how can we make their voices really part of our solutions?

Steve: being here at ADA, what do you think is going to be the most exciting thing coming out of this meeting?

Dr. Kaufman: I can’t even tell you how many ADAs I’ve been at. They’re all exciting. They all have something new. For me, the most wonderful part is seeing old friends and all the networking that goes on, but I think there’s a lot of exciting in the Pharma Arena obviously in the type 2 space as well as the type 1 space, but there’s no doubt that there’s a lot about diabetes technology and I think for me, as part of Medtronic, that’s the most exciting.

Steve: I want to thank you for your time. It’s very interesting.

Dr. Kaufman: Thank you.

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