Sustainable by Design

Abbott’s product development creates life-changing technologies, while advancing a sustainable future at the same time.

Strategy and Strength|Sep.19, 2019

When Abbott creates new technologies that help people live better, our goal is to build sustainability into the design process.

Whether it's a revolutionary family of diagnostics instruments or a world-leading glucose sensing technology, Abbott's strong pipeline of products across its core businesses advances the company’s long-term sustainability by keeping the company relevant and in the right markets.

In addition, our products enhance health while also reflecting our commitment to improving accessibility and operating in a way that helps the planet. Incorporating sustainability factors into our research and development is an important part of our strategic approach.

Companies are also increasingly being evaluated by stakeholders – from customers and consumers to investors and industry groups – based on their performance in addressing environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors. Abbott’s ESG leadership, including our product sustainability, has earned us a place on the global Dow Jones Sustainability Index for 15 consecutive years, with Abbott being named the industry leader each of the last seven years.

"Across our businesses, we are always thinking about sustainability factors in our R&D programs," said John Frels, vice president for research and development for Abbott's diagnostics business.

"We listen to what our customers' insights and needs are, and how we can help improve patient care," said Frels, who also leads the company's Scientific Governing Board that helps steer innovation across the company. "When we look at R&D through an ESG lens, the long-term impact helps us innovate better for people and the environment."

Keeping ESG in Mind During Lab Testing

With 13 billion medical tests being conducted in the U.S. alone each year, the need for accuracy, speed and convenience in testing equipment has never been higher.

A decade ago, Abbott took a fresh look at the diagnostics space and launched a new way to design our next generation of testing platforms.

By talking extensively to hospital and lab customers, we engineered a concept that became Alinity.

The Alinity instruments include a number of features to help health systems, clinicians and laboratorians maximize testing efficiencies while better managing resources.

For example, the Alinity ci diagnostics system is more compact due to its "elevator" stacked design. This can mean a significant space savings in the lab – nearly 50% in some cases – while maximizing testing output. Alinity's flexible and scalable design allows modules to be added over time, increasing the lifecycle for the system.

The Alinity ci-series was designed for environmental efficiencies to further enhance this sustainable approach to diagnostics.Compared to other competitor instruments, the Alinity ci-series consumes between 53-75% less electricity.

"The development of this next-generation family of instruments will help our customers change the role of their lab from the perception as a cost center to having a meaningful impact on a healthcare organization’s performance," Frels said. The innovations tied to Alinity mirror our overall approach to sustainability in designing core diagnostic systems and how the lab operates overall.

In San Antonio, Texas, CHRISTUS Health Santa Rosa worked with Abbott to take a total value of ownership (TVO) approach for its lab. This combines both professional consulting services and an operational efficiency concept. Based on this approach of TVO, the hospital was able to cut its number of lab testing platforms from 14 to six, reduced vendors from four to two, cut turnaround time for immunoassay tests by 22%, cut water consumption in half and trimmed total costs by $2.3 million over seven years.

Our Most Promising Product Pipeline

Alinity is just one of numerous examples of how we've developed life-changing innovations that also fit the company’s commitment to delivering strong economic, social and environmental performance. Wall Street observers agree that our commitment to R&D spending and key acquisitions to our core businesses have yielded our most promising product pipeline that will enable sustainable growth.

"We believe the stage is set for improving top- and bottom-line performance for years ahead, driven by crisper execution, the realization of multiple key pipeline products across each Abbott franchise," wrote the analysts at investment firm Stifel after the most recent earnings call where Abbott beat expectations and raised our full-year earnings outlook.

To learn more about the many ways our work has a sustainable impact, see our story, "Life-changing tech meets sustainability."