by Byron Connolly

CIO50 2017 #26-50: Angela Coble, Johnson & Johnson

Nov 21, 2017
Technology Industry

“Some days I can feel sick in the stomach when I look at the risks we take but I always look at the big picture. Why am I doing this and what would be the impact if I got it wrong?” says Angela Coble, director, business technology at Johnson Johnson (JJ).

But taking risks and being resilient is all part and parcel of Coble’s role at the medical device and pharmaceutical organisation. Over the past year, Coble and her team have rolled out a ‘OneDevice’ initiative that is being embraced by the global company. Under the program, more than 300 field staff in Australia were given a Samsung tablet to replace their existing tablet and iPad devices. The new tablets are connected to the Telstra network and utilise Airwatch mobile device management software on Windows 10.

“People in the field were lugging around all this kit that weighed up to 11kg and they simply couldn’t do everything they needed to do on one device,” says Coble. “In my utility days [Coble was previously a senior executive at Country Energy], I could see that people in the field were the most important people I needed to help every day. In utilities, it’s about keeping the lights on; at JJ it’s about giving patients access to healthcare.”

The new ‘one device strategy’ has given 30 minutes back to field staff each day or three million minutes back to the organisation annually. It has also saved the organisation more than $600,000.

“Now JJ is looking at deploying this strategy in more markets because the total cost of ownership is reduced by 80 per cent over previous options. But we actually looked at how this could be more of a productivity rather than a cost saving initiative; my budget is 33 per cent lower than it was when I started this job three years ago. Now I am about providing value and bandwidth to then apply that to new initiatives,” says Coble.

Sensor concept improves patient care

In 2015, when Coble started her role at JJ, her father was quite sick and in hospital quite a long way away which meant she was spending a lot of time travelling to see him.

“I thought to myself, I am wearing a Fitbit, we’ve got Skype and various ways we can access information; if I can’t overcome this issue and provide better access to healthcare for patients, then who can?”

Coble worked with the CSIRO to develop a concept where a sensor would be placed on patients with knee replacements, allowing them to be monitored remotely before and after surgery by their carer. Coble and the team believed that this would create more access to healthcare for patients because they’re not coming back for revisits, which opens up more surgery time and more face-to-face time with healthcare professionals.

Patients put a sensor on their wrist which connects to a specific mobile app created for the trial. Data is then sent to a portal that is accessing by the patient’s carer. GPs and surgeons can check on their progress and are able to monitor the patient remotely through the sensor and automatically log the patient’s daily activities.

“The best case scenario is that they prepare themselves better for surgery and we get better health outcomes and there’s not as many patients at the back end taking up precious clinical time.

“From a JJ perspective, we have immediately seen the benefits of this without the actual peer reviewed results. The CSIRO has also received accolades,” says Coble.

Australian clinical trials, managed by the CSIRO, began in October 2016 with commercial release based on the results of its clinical trial.

Byron Connolly