Q&A with Supratim Bose of Boston Scientific

Supratim Bose
Executive Vice President & President of Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa
Boston Scientific

 What is the greatest opportunity in health care today, from your perspective?

Health care is perhaps one of the most important issues that affects every nation in the world and something which today is as important a priority as economic growth and security of a country. This by itself makes it an opportunity globally.

The biggest opportunity in health care is unlocking this huge untapped potential by discovering unmet needs and serving more patients across the world especially in emerging markets, a cause that Boston Scientific is committed to. health care, from all standpoints, is undergoing a period of unprecedented change in every market across the world. Technology has developed to a point where information is available, instantly on our fingertips regardless of where on earth we are. Consumers are increasingly getting more aware of diseases, choice of therapies, providers, physicians, and even treatment of choice and specific products. Payers and policy-makers globally are also expected to deliver the best quality of care to the population, in a timely and cost-effective manner. Because of the changing environment and customer demands, meaningful innovation is key, especially in the med-tech industry. Innovation on all fronts- products, processes, and more recently, business models is a critical success factor for the industry. As we look ahead, the greatest opportunities will be created by those that understand the gravity of these changes, and change to enhance stakeholder awareness, create access to new growth markets, work with health care providers to increase adoption of life-saving therapies, and do this while reducing the total cost to serve. This opportunity can be realized to its fullest when industry participants unleash the power of collaboration- alliances, joint ventures, and similar ways of accelerating innovation’s time-to-market.

Growth markets, like the Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa (AMEA) region, have been the focal points across industries for high growth and even more so the medical technology industry that Boston Scientific participates in.

 What would you say are the challenges in doing business in growth markets?

75% of the world’s population resides in AMEA region. There is tremendous systemic diversity, and to add to it, change in these markets really is the only constant. We have some of the world’s most developed markets and also definitely the world’s fastest growing markets, and probably the most number of untapped markets as well in this region. Therefore, as you can imagine, health care systems throughout AMEA are also in different stages of development, from embryonic to developed. Regulatory frameworks vary significantly, as does reimbursement and health care insurance. We have countries where most life-saving therapies are 100% reimbursed, to countries where there is very limited or no access to such therapies and the ailing patients pay out of pocket. Some countries have peace and stability, while some are mired in decades of war and strife. In some developed markets, therapy growth is slowing down, and therefore we need to bring in innovation faster while in others there is a lack of basic facilities and we need physician training to deliver therapies to needy patients. In such cases, we need to build partnerships with health care and industry bodies to train physicians on new procedures and technologies through various new models of professional education including institutes for professional education, proctorships, physician exchange programs and for greater reach, even virtual training institutes. We may need to learn how to manage complexity, diversity and all the challenges that come with it. This helps to actually create the market from scratch. So in short, diversity creates challenges, and diversity creates opportunities too. We must have the right strategies to realize the true promise of these health care opportunities.

What advice do you have for young professionals who are keen to work in these markets?

For most young professionals, dealing with such VUCA environment can be challenging, but also is the most exciting part of growth of oneself as it is a fertile ground to build strong convictions as future global leaders. For example, recently a thriving business in 2 countries was hit by a sudden price/reimbursement cut by the government. How quickly can a company adapt its strategy to modify, adapt and still deliver capital efficient profitable growth? Given reference pricing by some national health insurance, what if such activism spreads to other markets prematurely?  Experiencing and working through such real challenges on the ground is what builds confidence and character needed in any global leader of tomorrow. So I would say the most important thing would be to develop a feel for the local markets in AMEA. This comes not by looking at AMEA from a distance, but by working in AMEA, in its various markets. Convictions are built not in offices in HQ, but in the field, with customers, with teams, with stakeholders such as governments, hospitals, patient advocacy bodies, distributors and other business partners. It takes strategic thinking, courage and flawless execution at the same time. It takes sound judgement, emotional intelligence, and the ability to adapt and be practical and humble at all times.

With a global constraints on health care spend, how does Boston Scientific balance the needs of clinical innovation against reducing cost?

For the last 5 years, Category Leadership has been the cornerstone of Boston Scientific’s strategy. We play in 6 broad therapy areas, each one of which we have significantly strengthened. For example, if we take our Rhythm Management business, where Electrophysiologists (EPs) are our physician call-point, earlier we were only able to offer pacemakers, implantable defibrillators and cardiac resynchronization devices. We worked on understanding the needs of EPs, and figured out that they needed therapeutic solutions to treat arrhythmias through ablation. We developed our portfolio through organic development and acquisitions to now being able to offer the most comprehensive set of solutions to EPs in the industry. In doing so, we are able to bring more innovation to a set of customers that we already understand very well (versus going after customer segments we don’t understand), which helps us reduce the total cost to serve by leveraging economies of scope. It also has enhanced our brand image and has enhanced customer confidence and loyalty.

In AMEA specifically, we have built an R&D facility from scratch in India, to bring market-appropriate innovation to our customers, by working in close collaboration with them. We are also actively pursuing various initiatives to realize the true potential of the value segment opportunity especially through alliances, new business development and R&D in China. Our teams have actively embraced the philosophy of frugal innovation as we move forward to develop solutions for customers in the region. In addition, we have an ongoing partnership with Frankenman in China, which is already delivering market-appropriate products meant for customers in China. We have a partnership with Tsinghua University, where we will be funding several ideas, which we intend to help incubate to fruition. We have also broken ground for the largest and technologically the most advanced manufacturing plant for Boston Scientific globally, in Malaysia, which will eventually make it cheaper and faster for us to deliver products to customers in our region. Through these initiatives, not only do we intend to accelerate the delivery of innovation to our markets, we also intend to reduce the total cost to serve our customers.


About Mr. Bose

Supratim Bose is Executive Vice President and President, Asia-Pacific, Middle East & Africa (AMEA) for Boston Scientific, and a member of its Executive Committee. In this role, Mr. Bose oversees the Company’s business and growth opportunities across AMEA,  the fastest  growing region for the company over past 5  years.  He spearheaded  the creation  and growth  of the Emerging  Markets geographic hubs of North Asia, ASEAN, India and Middle East & Africa while also accelerating growth in Japan and Australia/New Zealand. Global R&D, Business Support Services and manufacturing capabilities have also been established in India and Malaysia, and also critical strategic alliances in China and India in past 3 years. The strategic directions set for AMEA have resulted in market leading growth every year across every country and Business Unit, powered by a benchmark leadership & talent development process.

Before joining Boston Scientific in January 2012, Mr. Bose was Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Singapore-based Bose Consulting Group, which specialized in strategic management consulting services for the health care industry. Prior to that, he was with Johnson & Johnson (J&J) for nearly 30 years, where he concluded his tenure as Company Group Chairman of its Medical Devices and Diagnostics (MD&D) business. In that role, he managed J&J’s MD&D companies  throughout Asia-Pacific, including Japan, having pioneered its entry in all emerging markets in Asia, including China, India and ASEAN. During his tenure, he also created the company’s research and development capability in the region and led the development and growth of local talent, many of whom attained significant global positions. Under Mr. Bose’s leadership, the organization partnered closely with key external stakeholders to shape the health care environment, and was recognized by external agencies as one of the top companies to work for in Asia-Pacific.

Mr. Bose joined J&J Ltd. India in 1981, and held various management positions of increasing responsibility leading up to his appointment as Company Group Chairman of MD&D. He  has extensive and proven experience in building markets in this region. Prior to J&J, he served at one of the fastest growing pharmaceutical start-ups in India.

Mr. Bose earned a B.Sc. in Chemistry/Physics, a M.Sc. in Biophysics and a Master in Management Studies (MMS) from the Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies at the University of Bombay. He served as a member of the Board of Directors at CareFusion Corporation, Quattro Vascular Pte Ltd and Trireme Medical, and member of the Advisory Board at Singapore Management University’s Lee Kong Chian School of  Business. He was also an adjunct faculty at the Nanyang Business School, Singapore.