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Cathy Burzik: Managing Through Change is Part of Our Organizational Readiness

Wednesday, 19 Jan 2011 | 12:49 PM ET

The day of reckoning is here for health care. The Senate is expected to vote in the early evening on the GOP's Obamacare repeal bill.

While the tone of the discussion was more civil this time around, the message was still the same. On any given day, speculation about the outcome in the Senate changes, largely thanks to guesses about what Democratic Senators up for re-election in 2012 will do.

Today the word is that Senate is vowing to stand behind Obamacare and against the repeal bill. All this uncertainty is creating a headache for companies in the health care sector. I decided to ask Cathy Burzik, CEO of the medical technology company, Kinetic Concepts how this health care drama is being factored into her business strategy.

LL: Today, the House will vote to roll back health care. It’s more of a symbolic vote and a test on Democratic unity. Do you think this partisan bickering will have any impact on how you do business?

CB: Certainly, we will watch the debate in Washington closely. We’ve been in business since 1976, so we’ve seen lots of changes in the health care system. The one constant is our commitment to delivering proven clinical outcomes and providing cost efficiencies.

We’re working with health care providers to find ways of more efficiently treating patients, and that comes through innovation in every area of our work, and new product investment. So, we’ll be watchful of the impact this debate may have on our ability to innovate.

LL: The health care system is going through rapid change. How do the shifting sands impact your ability to do business?

CB: Managing through change is part of our organizational readiness—we expect it of ourselves and we know customers and others expect it from us. Part of managing change is to be ahead of it, and KCI has a tradition of creating and defining markets. So we want to build on that foundation. We often call this “changing the practice of medicine,” which will enable us to enjoy good growth.

This growth will be driven by continued innovation, the diversification and global expansion of our business, and a strong organizational capability around quality, clinical evidence, and customer relationships. The people of KCI take this work with great responsibility, especially when you consider that our business is at the center of some of the most pressing health issues today—this includes areas such as diabetes, chronic wound care, infection management, and breast cancer.

LL: What is your message to shareholders while this health care fight starts up again?

CB: As we talk to the financial community and our stakeholders, it is clear they understand the issues associated with health care policy and account for that as they evaluate the industry. At the same time, investors are looking for predictability from companies in terms of traditional measures—earnings growth, solid investment, innovation and a strong research and development pipeline.

There is a need and demand for quality, innovative health products and we remain focused on that through diversification—new products and new geographies, and operating leanly so we can be nimble and adapt to a changing environment, whether it comes from health care reform or from marketplace dynamics, while never losing our focus on improving patient outcomes.

LL: Does the reform bill offer any opportunities for your company?

CB: We’re hopeful the right decisions will be made on behalf of patients and caregivers at the agency level. Certainly, the notion of more insured Americans means there should be greater access to our products.

Medicare’s move to bundle payments favors the most clinically effective products, and we have unprecedented clinical evidence to support our therapies. Likewise, from an accounting perspective, bundled payments may help reduce redundant administrative costs.

A Senior Talent Producer at CNBC, and author of "Thriving in the New Economy:Lessons from Today's Top Business Minds."

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