Changing the Trajectory of Health for Humanity – Johnson & Johnson Taiwan

Major healthcare multinational Johnson & Johnson’s credo states its commitment and responsibilities to the interests of all the company’s stakeholders. This pledge is engraved in English and Chinese on placards hung at the entrance to J&J’s Taiwan office. There, leadership and staff in the company’s three business sectors of consumer health, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices dedicate themselves to upholding the commitment outlined in the statement of principles.

Johnson & Johnson’s first responsibility, the credo states, is to its customers – the patients, doctors, nurses, and parents who use the company’s products and services. According to Johnson & Johnson Medical Taiwan General Manager Louis Ko, that in large part means working to ensure patient access to J&J’s cutting-edge, innovative, evidence-based solutions.

“We are constantly striving to provide solutions that allow for better outcomes for the patient, with the aim of restoring their quality and joys of life,” Ko says.  

When it comes to the company’s medical devices, surgeons are an important part of the commitment. Using J&J’s medical device products, such as its innovative knee and hip replacement solutions, gives surgeons access to new skills and know-how in the form of workshops, as well as dry lab and cadaver training.  The company also offers preceptor training, which sends surgeons abroad to learn particular procedures and product uses in order to return home as a trainer for the same. This program has been popular among Taiwan’s already skilled surgeons. With one of the most comprehensive orthopaedic portfolios in the world, J&J has also maintained a strong relationship with the AO foundation, a medically guided, not-for-profit, global network of surgeons and the world’s premier education, innovation, and research organization for the treatment of trauma and musculoskeletal disorders. The two organizations have a shared passion in advancing patient care and fulfill the unmet clinical needs of surgeons.

During the recent pandemic period, J&J has continued to provide professional training to surgeons through virtual programs. It also invited expert Taiwanese surgeons to share their clinical experience with counterparts around the world via virtual conferences, which broadened the international visibility of the Taiwan experts.

“Learning to use new products requires a lot of practice,” says Ko. “One of J&J Medical Device Companies’ biggest responsibilities is to equip surgeons with the knowledge and experience required to use our products correctly.”

A complicating factor for both patients and surgeons in Taiwan, however, is the existence of certain regulatory barriers, chiefly a reimbursement scheme that does not favor more advanced solutions. This regulatory environment can also hinder innovation and prevent the continuous introduction of new medical technologies and devices into Taiwan.

“The ideal situation is to have more flexibility in the policies, such as self-pay and a more reasonable pricing policy, which will encourage companies to import or to launch the most advanced and innovative products on the market in Taiwan,” says Ko. “We want Taiwan to be host to a world-class innovation ecosystem, and medical devices should be a part of that.”

Beyond the responsibility Johnson & Johnson pledges to its customers, the company also prides itself on creating a diverse and inclusive environment for its employees around the world. J&J Taiwan has taken this objective seriously, recently moving its team into a newly designed office in central Taipei. The open design of the new space encourages collaboration and challenges employees to break out of the traditional office mindset, which in turn encourages innovative thinking.

Removing assigned spaces for employees also better prepared the company for the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the virus did not affect Taiwan as severely as other places in the Asia-Pacific region, the more flexible office setup meant that employees were not caught off-guard. The company globally and in Taiwan has taken precautions to support the safety and well-being of its employees, enabling those who are able to work from home to do so, while ensuring they have the technology available to fulfill their responsibilities.

“It’s about learning agility,” explains Ko. “If you can adapt yourself to a new normal with ease, that leaves everybody in a better position to carry on the company’s operations.”

Taiwan’s excellent virus containment efforts in the early months of 2020 allowed Ko and his team to introduce a new initiative promoting innovation and creative ideas in the workplace earlier than their introduction in some neighboring markets. The Johnson & Johnson Kickbox, modeled on an Adobe program of the same name, provides employees who bring forward good ideas or suggestions on the company’s internal operations or external engagement with customers with several tools to help them carry out those ideas over a period of eight weeks. Employees awarded their own Kickbox receive a US$1,000 grant to make their ideas a reality, as well as a coach and guidebook to help them along the way. Small perks like a Starbucks gift card and a bar of chocolate give recipients an extra boost to keep going, even when they hit roadblocks.

Ko says that the Kickbox program, combined with the more flexible workspace in the Taipei office, are part of what continue to make Johnson & Johnson a leader in its field. “By removing barriers between people and incentivizing idea generation, we are making our company a center for innovation and transformation.” he says. “We are doing our part to further Johnson & Johnson’s aim of changing the trajectory of the health of humanity.”