The Impact of COVID-19: A Case Study from Baxter Healthcare
“While we have faced challenges before, this one is different. This time we join with all nations across the globe in a common endeavour, using the great advances of science and our instinctive compassion to heal. We will succeed - and that success will belong to every one of us.” Her Majesty The Queen.
I think it’s fair to say the last few weeks have been amongst the most challenging and demanding I have ever experienced after almost 28 years in the industry. I could not be more proud of the team of over 2,000 employees at Baxter in the UK and Ireland right now. The determination, dedication, resilience and resolve I have seen demonstrated across the entire organisation is incredible.
During the past few weeks, we have seen demand for some products double, or even triple in volume, whilst other theatre-based products declined dramatically. Trying to ensure we can effectively work with our key stakeholders at a government level and meet the needs of our customers has been a priority for us as we try and manage expectations about product supply. Our manufacturing and supply chain facilities are working 24/7, we are shipping orders continuously and have externally recruited additional employees. One of the significant challenges we have faced is having a single point of contact in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland to manage the prioritised supply of our products in a co-ordinated manner where demand simply outstrips ability to supply. Where our portfolio spans devices and medicines this has proven to be challenging to have a joined-up approach, understanding that in some therapy areas you cannot have one item without the other, and explaining to a sometimes fragmented purchasing landscape the best way to manage through a crisis.
I am comforted by the fact our teams and entire organisation are doing everything we can to ensure that our customers, and ultimately patients, have the life-saving and sustaining products they need where possible. Ultimately this is what attracts many of us to this industry and it’s rewarding to know we are all making a difference in these unprecedented times.
The team have shown real commitment to find ways to continue to support customers remotely by providing virtual training on products and therapies. We also have teams who still need to be on the frontline, going into areas of the hospital where they are potentially at risk, to ensure that the devices and machines are installed and working well. We have commercial team members from our quieter surgical business supporting our operational teams internally to ensure they are able to function without disruption. The spirit of volunteering, support and internal collaboration has never been stronger than in adversity.
This can only continue through our employees being available to work and we are grateful for the collaboration with ABHI to help to ensure that our critical team members are now able to access priority testing, enabling us to manage and care for our workforce effectively.
For many of our team members, myself included, we thrive on the social interactions we have with our colleagues and customers. Working from home, week five for me (I never thought I would miss Heathrow airport!!), and with the sales team not being able to see their customers face-to-face, this has led to us all needing to dig deep and find new ways to get the spark and energy we need to work effectively. Highlights have included the ‘Kids WebEx’ we held, so families understood the importance of what mummy and daddy are doing, and the Friday afternoon ‘virtual after work drinks club’, that is tempting to schedule earlier every week! We are purposefully communicating regularly and widely across the company (and as an ABHI Board), providing the opportunity for people to ask questions and raise their concerns. We aim to answer these head-on, transparently, and candidly, during these uncertain times.
I am confident that there are many learnings we will all be able to take from the past few weeks, and as part of the ABHI Board our job is to be thinking about ‘different versions of the future’ and ensure we are best placed to play our part in the ‘new normal’ that lies ahead!
Andy Goldney, VP Medication Delivery and Pharmaceuticals – Europe, Baxter Healthcare Ltd, & Board Member, ABHI