Innovating with Resilience

Abbott President and CEO Robert Ford on how the company pivoted during the pandemic — and the key lessons learned.

Strategy and Strength|Apr.28, 2021

Healthcare was changing before COVID-19. Then the pandemic hit, and those changes shifted into high-speed transformations.

Supply chains became more creative.

Diagnostic test development reached unprecedented speeds.

And COVID-19 testing became the norm.

Through all of this, Abbott was able to deliver when the world needed it most, thanks to experience in infectious diseases, testing innovation, manufacturing excellence and resiliency, built over more than 130 years.

"The big investment was in mindset, to really recognize that because we have all the scale and capabilities, we're not destined as a large company to be slow," said Abbott President and CEO Robert Ford during the recent Fortune Brainstorm Health conference.

The annual event brings together the world's top business leaders, policymakers and experts to discuss key global issues. This year's festival explored the pivotal innovations, technologies and collaborations that emerged in the past year.

Mr. Ford's session — which included Clifton Leaf, Editor in Chief, Fortune Magazine and Mike Kaufmann, CEO, Cardinal Health — kicked-off the conference discussing the company's robust portfolio of COVID-19 tests developed and distributed at mass scale to help tackle the pandemic, get people back to doing the things they love and boost the economy.

The Future
Abbott is using the lessons learned in 2020 to build an even stronger and more resilient company best positioned to help prevent the next outbreak from becoming a pandemic.

The importance of decentralized diagnostic testing is key, particularly during a pandemic.

"It's important to have strong diagnostic infrastructure in hospitals and labs, but we also realized you need to bring that testing closer to the patient," Mr. Ford said. "Having rapid point-of-care tests and lab-based testing working together to surveil, screen and diagnose patients that have some sort of infectious disease. I think that's a key learning for us."

Want to know more? Watch Mr. Ford's full remarks from the conference.