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May 25, 2017

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Medical firm welcomes healthcare reforms

As China increases its efforts to provide low-cost and effective medical services through the government's healthcare reforms, the plan offers potential for all market players, including foreign companies.

Omar Ishrak, chief executive of US-­based medical device manufacturer Medtronic, does not regard the reforms as something that would put the brakes on the company's long-term commitment in the country.

He sees the reforms as central in allowing his company to fulfill its mission to expand access to healthcare, and lower costs in healthcare systems globally.

Ishrak has long been fascinated with Chinese culture. He joined the company in 2011 and comes to China at least twice each year.

Leading a company with more than 88,000 employees in 160 countries, Ishrak has created a healthy work/life balance.

His easy-going nature has been welcomed by employees.

In 2016, he was named in Glassdoor's top 50 chief executive list for the second year.

Recently, he spoke to China Daily during the Boao Forum for Asia about how his company plans to embrace opportunities brought by the government's medical reforms. The following are edited excerpts from the interview:

What do you think of your products' competitive edge in the medical device market in china?

In the medical device market in China, we have the leading market share. For our latest product in China-the heart valve-we have solid experience that we are proud of to bring to China. I think our competitive edge lies in our understanding the needs of local physicians so that we can customize products to meet their demands.

The China-led Belt and Road Initiative has opened up new business opportunities. How will it benefit your business?

With clearer policies and regulations to be established in time, the initiative may make it easier for us to do business, providing greater access to products and to professional training in neighboring countries.

What do the healthcare reforms mean for your company?

The government's aim of lowering healthcare costs in China is a good cause.

As a medical manufacturer, the company has helped increase Chinese patients' access to healthcare through innovative public and private partnerships and we have a plan to establish a training and education center in Chengdu in Sichuan province, to help medical professionals from Western China to improve their clinical skills.

Future efforts would involve helping improve healthcare quality in remote China, expanding sales and distribution networks to reach more people in need those hard-to-reach rural regions.

The company is opening the first bio-prosthetic heart valve manufacturing site in Shanghai. It is expected that in time this facility will help relieve the shortage of bio-prosthetic valves in China and globally.

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