Innovating for Access Now and in the Future

Tomorrow's challenges demand new approaches. Find out how we're making access and affordability core to new product innovation.

Sustainability|Dec.15, 2020

If companies want to continue to be successful in a world where business has become anything but usual, they need to pivot strategies and adapt plans to meet changing times.

This is nothing new at Abbott. It's what we've done for 130 years – evolving our approach to address emerging health needs.

Today and in the years ahead, the need for change is clear. The world is facing a non-stop wave of health threats, from COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, to malnutrition, to the growing toll of chronic disease. Access to care is limited. Health systems and workers are overwhelmed. Cost is always a concern, and health gaps are widening across society.

That's why we know that going forward, pursuing our purpose – helping people live fuller lives through better health – can't happen without innovation and accessibility.

They are critical parts of our 2030 Sustainability Plan, which at its core recognizes that our best solutions for healthcare must be ones that have the greatest impact on the greatest number of people.

The path toward this goal starts with intentionally designing our life-changing technologies and products for access and affordability from every step of the research and development process, to how we manufacture and deliver them to more people in more places than ever before.

This mindset already has allowed us to make meaningful progress in the fight against COVID-19 and shift the dynamics of healthcare, from testing to managing diabetes.

FreeStyle Libre: Making Innovation Meaningful

What would happen if everyone with diabetes knew more about how the condition was affecting their lives? What if they had access to live data that could help them manage their glucose levels?

Those are realities for people with diabetes who use products in our Freestyle Libre continuous glucose monitor portfolio.

Take our latest version – FreeStyle Libre 3, which recently was approved for use in Europe. It delivers glucose data to your smartphone every minute from the smallest, thinnest sensor available (approximately the size of two stacked pennies) that’s worn on the back of your upper arm for up to 14 days.

From the beginning, we designed broad access into this technology to reach more people with diabetes. We took steps at every stage to make it affordable – starting in our R&D labs, supply chain and high-speed automated manufacturing, and then creating a consistent global price and working with governments to get it reimbursed.

You might think this updated sensor would cost more, but we’ve made FreeStyle Libre affordably priced from the beginning, and we've priced the next-generation FreeStyle Libre 3 the same, so as many people as possible who live with diabetes can benefit from it.

We continue to add more features and functions to new generations of this technology. At the same time, we understand that when dealing with diabetes, monitoring your glucose is just one piece of staying healthy.

That’s why we partner with other companies to connect with technologies that complement FreeStyle Libre and help those with diabetes manage their lifestyles. Our recent collaboration with Omada Health offers its FreeStyle Libre users access to a digital coaching platform – providing wellness support with expert chats, interactive educational lessons and tailored action plans.

Fast, Reliable Testing Where It's Needed Most

Another example of the accomplishments that can be achieved when you combine innovation for accessibility is our BinaxNOW COVID-19 test. The brilliance is in its simplicity: A $5 test the size of a credit card that pairs with our mobile NAVICA app, allowing people who test negative to display their result on their mobile device.

Abbott is committed to making COVID-19 testing widely available and affordable at a time when the world needs it most. BinaxNOW allows us to pursue that commitment. It’s an innovative testing technology that's affordable and can be mass produced at a rate of tens of millions a month.

"Testing is a critical tool our world needs to overcome this pandemic," said John Frels, Vice President of Research and Development at Abbott's diagnostics business. "One of our goals is for COVID-19 tests to be attainable for as many people as possible by making them easy to use, widely available and inexpensive. BinaxNOW meets those criteria with a technology that quickly and reliably provides people with the information they need to make decisions about their lives and stay safe."

BinaxNOW and FreeStyle Libre are real-world evidence of innovation for access in action. In all of our businesses, we’re embedding this principle into how we create our products – spanning development to manufacturing to the ways we reach the people who need our technologies.

We’re always thinking about how to make our life-changing technologies available to those who need them – and this work extends beyond adding new features and advancing affordability. An important part of innovating for access is making new technologies work for people in different places and stages of life – including the most vulnerable among us.

Take Amplatzer Piccolo - at no bigger than a pea this device can close holes in hearts of premature infants. Our scientists and engineers developed this device by broadening the reach of pre-existing technology, creating a breakthrough for thousands of newborns that will open lifetimes of possibility. This breakthrough technology was recently recognized by Fast Company as a "World Changing Idea" that is helping to improve lives.

Focusing Today for a Better Tomorrow

Embedding access into our products is only one way we’re broadening our reach. As part of our 2030 Sustainability Plan, we’re joining with other organizations to break down access barriers and help more people who need our products receive them.

This includes supporting global efforts to address chronic conditions in new ways, along with addressing the broader impacts brought on by infectious diseases and malnutrition. We’ll also forge partnerships with the goal of identifying and removing health disparities and providing better care.

For more information about our 2030 Sustainability Plan, click here.

The BinaxNOWTM COVID-19 Ag Card EUA has not been FDA cleared or approved. It has been authorized by the FDA under an emergency use authorization for use by authorized laboratories. The test has been authorized only for the detection of proteins from SARS-CoV-2, not for any other viruses or pathogens, and is only authorized for the duration of the declaration that circumstances exist justifying the authorization of emergency use of in vitro diagnostic tests for detection and/or diagnosis of COVID-19 under Section 564(b)(1) of the Act, 21 U.S.C. § 360bbb-3(b)(1), unless the authorization is terminated or revoked sooner.