In 2003, when James Mo joined Baxter as human resources manager at the company's Suzhou, China manufacturing facility, the plant boasted around 320 workers, and was one of the largest Baxter plants in China.
"Today, we have nearly 3,000 employees in China," says Mo, who is now the human resources business partner supporting the company's manufacturing and research and development in China. "Baxter is changing every day here."
This year Baxter celebrates 25 years since it became one of the first U.S. healthcare companies to open an office in China. Its operations have expanded substantially since 1989, now including 10 offices, five manufacturing facilities and a state-of-the-art research and development facility.
Along the way, the company's operations in China have worked to continuously build a culture of high performance with high integrity through its strong ethics and compliance program, to establish and advance standards of care, expand access to healthcare among those most in need, and give back to the community in an effort to ensure a sustainable future.
"We're very proud of our achievements and the high standards and principles under which we have operated in China over the past 25 years," says Sanjay Prabhakaran, president of Baxter Greater China. "Through our ongoing 'In China, For China' commitment, Baxter remains devoted to operating with integrity, and investing and partnering with health authorities, healthcare professionals and patients to advance healthcare and create sustainable value for our patients and our communities."
A Focus on Increasing Access to Healthcare
Baxter also addresses access to treatment for end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients in China. Only about one third of the one million ESRD patients in China receive the treatment that they need, as issues related to medical infrastructure, affordability of insurance coverage and location increasingly impact patients' ability to access appropriate healthcare. Since Baxter entered the Chinese market, the company has been working to address the problem of inaccessibility of small towns and rural areas in order to reach patients in need of treatment, wherever they live and whatever their financial means.
In 2013, in an effort to increase access to renal therapy for those living in rural areas of the country, Baxter China donated to the Chinese National Institute of Hospital Administration under an endorsement from the Ministry of Health to develop and deploy treatment access and management model for patients with ESRD who use peritoneal dialysis (PD), a home-based therapy. The program, named "Flying Angel", piloted in six provinces.
Flying Angel focuses on establishing a logistics distribution model, standards of care, public education programs, training for healthcare professionals and improving affordability for patients. Preliminary results suggest that the program has been effective, says Biao Wang, government affairs and public policy director for Baxter China.
"We have already seen a significant increase in the use of home PD, and plan to continue rolling the program out in additional provinces to help it become more established across the country," Wang says. "We're sustaining the lives of patients who previously wouldn't have been treated. Ultimately, we hope to leave no patient behind."
A Focus on Innovation and Expansion
As part of Baxter's commitment to advancing standards of patient care, the company has been increasing its investment in research and development in China.
"There is a significant gap in access in China and an opportunity to improve patient care," says Dorothea Koh, Baxter director, business model innovation for China. "We're working to create an ecosystem of different products and services that provide a range of healthcare solutions to meet the needs of patients who use renal therapy or receive IV infusions."
Baxter established an innovation hub in China in 2013 to address the healthcare needs of the rapidly expanding emerging market. In 2013, Baxter opened a 103,000-square-foot world-class research and development facility in Suzhou, with the goal of continuing to introduce innovative products and therapies in the region. The company also expanded its presence in the country following the acquisition of Gambro in late 2013. And in November, the company announced plans to significantly increase production capacity for PD products at its Guangzhou, Suzhou and Tianjin plants. The investment is expected to create an additional 2,000 jobs in four years.
A Focus on Giving Back to the Community
In April, for example, as part of its 25th anniversary celebration, Baxter China donated and helped plant 2,500 poplar trees in Tongliao city in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, as part of the Shanghai Roots and Shoots program.
"Planting just one tree can help to purify 250 kg of carbon dioxide and to some extent, curb land desertification, which in turn helps reclaim good farmland for farmers," says Zhong Zhenxi, executive director of Shanghai Roots and Shoots. "We are delighted to have Baxter participate in the Million Tree project and join hands with us to aid environmental protection."
Since 2006, Baxter China has donated approximately $500,000 to support and improve education in impoverished regions of Sichuan and Yunnan provinces through the Hope Schools program. More than 250 employees have traveled to the schools to volunteer. On a recent trip to one of the schools, employee volunteers traveled three hours by plane and eight hours by bus to donate a computer classroom and teach computer skills to students.
"These projects underscore Baxter's commitment and continued investment in addressing the country's local community needs in China," Prabhakaran says. "Through sustainability efforts like these, as well as our innovation in R&D and government partnerships, we aim to drive advances in healthcare in this country for the next 25 years and beyond."