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The Big Interview – Michael Goetzl

By Editor
14th November 2019
Medical devices, The Big Interview

To mark World Diabetes Day 2019, Michael Goetzl, the Managing Director for the UK and Ireland for Roche Diabetes Care, chatted to the DT about his ambitions for the company, his passion for integrated care and how best to support people with diabetes.

Conn O’Neill recently spoke to the DT to reaffirm Roche’s commitment to the UK, would you like to comment on the recent speculation that you are pulling out of the diabetes market?

The last few years have brought a lot of changes to diabetes overall. It has become very crowded, with lots of companies getting into the market. Competition drive innovation and I welcome that but not all companies are as committed to quality and this is a worry.

We are very much committed to staying in diabetes. Roche has a very long history in diabetes, a very successful one and of course we have to adapt, but you always have to make sure you’re being innovative.

Why Roche?

There are a lot of answers to that question. Roche is a company that across all of our divisions – not only diabetes but also diagnostics and pharma – is always committed to delivering the highest quality products. We want to play in the areas where we really can provide solutions and help to patients, this is our highest aim and we want to provide quality and we want to deliver that.

We don’t want to have low price with low quality. So, for every HCP or patient who wants high-quality, Roche is a very good option.

What place do you see for a company with a broad portfolio working in diabetes care?

We want to play in the entire field of diabetes products and services. We want to move away from being a product-orientated provider only and more into the direction of a holistic approach to diabetes care. Not only in the area of blood glucose monitoring and insulin delivery systems where we have been very successful already. We are expanding our portfolio towards innovative solutions and digital solutions, like applications which harness the data we already produce from our devices every day. We will deliver software that brings it together and allows the HCP to use all of the knowledge and data that they could collect from their patients to get a better outcome. There is a need to connect the dots and we see a role for a company with a broad portfolio and history in diabetes care to help everyone achieve more of a holistic approach.

Tell us about Roche’s vision for integrated care, and what does integrated care look like according to Roche?

We are not only talking about hardware, we are talking about software and services and we are talking about connecting this altogether.

We want innovative, modern approaches like an app that collects all of the data points that creates reports, offering advice to the user

Integrated diabetes management is a holistic approach more like end-to-end management of the disease that means we want to be a partner on the patient’s journey from the point that they are diagnosed, we want to play together. In the past the patient has only been treated with product solutions, only the symptoms but not the full impact of living with diabetes.

We want innovative, modern approaches like an app that collects all of the data points that creates reports, offering advice to the user. It is also necessary to ensure interoperability of all these new digital solutions with existing tools, whether they are from Roche or anywhere else.

Something important to mention about integrated solutions, it’s a very wide and complex and mixed field. So, if we talk about the holistic solution, we will not be able to play alone in that field. It’s absolutely clear to us that we have to partner. We are already partnering with OurPath and also Novo Nordisk, we keep an open door to working with others.

What place is there for a manufacturer of traditional blood glucose monitoring systems in the emerging world of flash monitoring?

First of all, what I see is the development of products like CGM or flash in general is a big step forward, they’re very innovative products that do help patients. We will play a role in that field as well. Talking about flash, it’s a very good innovative product, but it cannot be the solution for all patients, as they all have different needs. Some patients don’t show a good reaction to the flash system for example the adhesive, so there’s always space as well for other systems for people living with type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is a very complex condition and at different times there are needs for blood glucose monitoring, this can be when living with ‘pre-diabetes’, the early stages of type 2 diabetes looking to get good management or even remission but of course also for those who start on insulin it can be essential. I know that there is more industry can do in supporting HCPs and patients to make better use of blood glucose monitoring tools so that it is not testing just for the routine but with meaning.

The arrival of CGM does not stop the need for innovation in blood glucose monitoring. We are developing BG meters with Bluetooth connectivity and have already launched an adaptor for our Accu-Chek Mobile meter that allows you to connect with applications like mySugr allowing a much deeper understanding of diabetes. So, there will be further innovation with BG and Roche will continue to play a role in this area.

What projects are you currently working on?

There’s a lot of projects we’re working on, if I start with the UK first, we work together with the NHS on several projects. We’re working together with the Oxford Academic Health Science Network where we have the aim to better understand how integrated solutions could be delivered through the NHS. This is just one example, we are eager to define more projects with the NHS to make our vision real.

We are running studies in the UK with several partners to better understand how in the field of diabetes, we could help people with mental health problems. Specifically, how we could help them self-manage their diabetes more easily. We are also working together with NICE at the moment because they have started the process to adapt or change the guidelines for the management of diabetes where we would be pleased to see a clearer mention of the holistic approach to diabetes care.

What do you aim to achieve in the next five years?

At the moment there is a lot of disruption, there a lot of technologies coming up, innovation in the market, but there’s no established systematic approach so far for the NHS to keep pace with this technological innovation. We would like to play a constructive part in addressing this.

We have started the process to develop integrated solutions with the NHS, so we are at the very beginning, at least from our perspective and we are aware that the NHS itself is doing a lot of research and exploring in the field of how patients can manage diabetes better. Definitely in five years we do not want to talk about pilots anymore, we want to be in the position where we have established successful entire projects where we already see the positive outcome of integrated solutions already established with the NHS.

For example, we want to really show the outcome that we are looking for in terms of allowing the patients to manage the condition in a better way with reduced complications and from an NHS perspective, we have a positive impact on the result and on the budgets. We want to be a catalyst that is speeding up the process to help to target innovative solutions. We want to be a catalyst that is speeding up the process to help to target innovative solutions.

What is the future of diabetes care in the UK?

I strongly believe that not a single player can address the improved management of diabetes so I’m pretty sure we will see more and more partnerships across the entire industry, as well with the NHS itself.

We all expect that the population of people with type 2 diabetes to grow significantly over the next years – so to really improve the situation, we need more partnerships and alliances. I see as well that NHS England is running a lot of activities to address this development and we believe this is the right approach and we want to partner with them. It’s not only NHS England, many organisations like JDRF and Diabetes UK will play a role here – they are looking for partnering and alliances, they’re all aware that the management of diabetes requires more than one player.

Once the NICE guidelines have been updated they should be rolled out consistently to address variation and be ready to incorporate constant innovation and improvement in technology and services on offer. The pathway needs to be good, it’s not an easy process because so many possibilities are available and so many digital solutions are now coming into the market, but NICE does have a great opportunity to define the leadership here and how we could all bring this together. We want to support that as much as we can from our position.

What’s been your biggest achievement in diabetes?

Before I moved to the UK & Ireland organisation, I was Head of Roche Diabetes Care in the north of Latin America and I would like to use an example of our work there involving 35,000 patients in Panama.

This is a country where you need to be aware about what kind of circumstances, there is no full reimbursement. The healthcare available is not like we are used to in the western European countries UK, France, Italy, Germany. In Panama we are talking about where people are living very different lifestyles and they can only have very similar healthcare support if they pay for it out of their own pocket.

We addressed almost the entire type 1 population, that’s why the project was so big. It was the biggest government healthcare programme, a five-year project where we delivered these products and services to 35,000 patients with diabetes.

Michael marking World Diabetes Day 2019

We worked with the government to set up a diabetes solution where we connected blood glucose meters through quite basic but very effective software that collected all of the data that had been produced by the patients by using the BG meters and also from applications like mySugr. This came together so that we were providing several services through a customer care line where we provided technical support and training both to people with diabetes and HCPs. We were delivering an entire portfolio of products and services with patients achieving better outcomes, by which I mean we reduced their HbA1c levels significantly.

Beyond the HbA1c number, we measured an improvement of their ability to manage the condition and at the end of the project we did a big survey where we reached out to almost 5,000 people to collect their feedback. People mainly wanted to stay on the project, they do hope the government continues the project as they really could feel the benefit of this approach.

This is my biggest achievement as what more could you achieve working in the healthcare industry and getting this kind of feedback from people with diabetes?

Talk us through a typical day in your professional life?

I would like to share with you three examples. The first is when I am in the field, either with my colleagues from the sales team, meaning that we are travelling together to hospitals to meet healthcare professionals and patients. This is quite helpful and supportive for me because I have this real insight into what is happening and where my team can add value.

Another very typical example is being at the headquarters in the office where mainly I’m connecting with my colleagues. There are so many potential activities in the office, going to workshops, attending seminars, talking to colleagues in the back office, running phone calls. It’s very important to establish a relationship with your entire organisation and to help people share the vision we have for the future of diabetes care.

The third one is more linked to international activities with my position as Managing Director in the UK and Ireland, I’m also a member of our senior leadership team at a regional level and so participate in many international working groups which is a great opportunity to learn best practice from around the world.

What do you do in your spare time?

I have been in the UK for 10 months, as I started this role in early January. By far the most important thing for me is my family who moved with me to London. Fortunately, my kids are still young enough that they want to join my wife and I at the weekends when we are exploring a lot about the UK. We recently went to Stonehenge for the second time this year! When I do have time to myself, I enjoy sports and especially cycling and tennis.

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