Aug 18, 2021
CTO Corner: Behind-the-scenes innovation insights from Beth McCombs

As we look to how BD can lead the way in addressing the most critical health challenges, both today and into the future, we’re thrilled to have Beth McCombs at the helm of our R&D organization as Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer.

Beth holds a B.S. and M.S. in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and an M.B.A. from UPenn’s Wharton School of Business. Having dedicated her entire career to helping others by improving human health, she brings a fresh but seasoned perspective to innovation at the company and a palpable passion for further driving our impact in healthcare through breakthrough solutions to help patients and healthcare providers around the world achieve better outcomes.

We’ll continue to share Beth’s industry-leading innovation insights and priorities. In our first interview with Beth, we learn more about what attracted her to BD, how BD is poised for incredible impact, and how she’s already building on our legacy of innovation to usher in a new era of med tech leadership.

Why did pursue a career in med tech engineering?

Beth: I knew early on that I wanted to work in a field where I could have a positive impact on people’s lives. My father is an engineer, and my mother is a nurse, so my career choice as an engineer in medical technology is a natural combination of the two. As a student, I had a strong interest and talent for math and science.

Looking back on my more-than-20-year career in med tech, I feel tremendous gratitude for the opportunity to work alongside so many talented and dedicated colleagues who’ve shared my passion and drive to make a positive impact on human health through innovation.


What attracted you to BD?

Beth: When I joined BD about two years ago, I was amazed by the company’s unparalleled reach in healthcare. BD touches billions of patients every year, all the way from discovery and diagnosis to medical therapy and interventional treatment. We have the unique opportunity to connect our products with each other and within our customers’ care ecosystems to create novel solutions that improve outcomes, streamline healthcare delivery, and improve patient experience. 

I’m also in awe of BD’s advanced manufacturing processes that consistently deliver those high-quality products at such a scale. BD has incredible manufacturing operations that produce the products that billions of people around the world depend on while ensuring our high standard of quality. The company is relentlessly focused on delivering products with the clinical performance that our customers and patients expect and deserve.

BD’s role in healthcare became even more apparent over the past year as our teams rose to the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic. From the early days of the pandemic, our platforms provided analytics that helped public health leaders better understand transmission rates and our bioscience instruments enabled critical research to help us study the virus and the immune response in humans. Our teams developed COVID-19 PCR and antigen tests in record time. We supported treatment of acutely ill COVID-19 patients with infusion pumps and vascular access management products, including our portfolio of advanced catheters. As the global community pivots toward vaccine deployment to bring an end to the pandemic, BD is committed to supplying more than 2 billion syringes for COVID-19 vaccination worldwide.

On a personal note, my family and I have been impacted by BD products three times in just the past year for both preventative care and treatment.  This really brought home for me BD’s purpose of Advancing the World of Health™!


Where is BD poised to make the biggest impact in med tech over the next decade?

Beth: There’s tremendous potential for our industry to harness the power of data to dramatically impact patient care, and BD is already partnering with customers and technology companies to lead the next wave of innovation to improve clinical outcomes and streamline healthcare delivery.

When I joined BD two years ago, I was surprised to discover that the company already had more than 2,000 software engineers on staff, along with deep partnerships with technology companies to bring our digital solutions to life. We are developing solutions to connect our high-impact products with digital technologies, including advanced sensors, connectivity, data analytics and digitally empowered workflow solutions. This combination of best-in-class products with digital technologies enables more simplified and personalized care across the continuum, from diagnosis to treatment. Examples of these solutions include:

  • BD HealthSight™ Platform is designed to provide advanced analytics and dashboards to help our customers with end-to-end medication safety, advanced inventory optimization, and improved healthcare worker efficiency.
  • BD Synapsys™ Microbiology Informatics Solution integrates workflow and provides on-demand insights that help empower laboratory staff to impact turnaround time, expedite decision making, improve productivity and simplify compliance.
  • BD Sensica™ Urine Output System continuously and accurately measures urine output and core bladder temperature when connected to a temperature sensing Foley catheter. Continuously monitoring these vital signs provides clinicians with a tool for decision-making in critical care patients.

And we’re just getting started! Looking forward, across BD we have several pipeline programs focused on digital solutions that improve outcomes, streamline care processes and enable new care settings beyond the hospital, like ambulatory surgery centers, infusion clinics and even the home.  We are developing novel innovation partnerships with customers and technology companies to advance these solutions.


What are your key priorities for the next year?

For the coming year, I am focused on three areas: 

  1. Accelerating our innovation funnel where it matters most: We will double down on areas of high unmet need and headroom for innovation and growth. Over the past year, we started an innovation fund to accelerate these high-growth opportunities, and we’ll continue to drive these new programs over the coming year.
  2. Increasing our agility in new product development through simplified processes and talent development. By streamlining our processes, we will help our teams focus on the most important areas of gathering customer insights and developing robust products. We will focus on talent development to provide growth opportunities for our people and increase our effectiveness, while partnering with external technology companies to access new capabilities.
  3. Fostering our innovation culture to unlock the full potential of our organization. Across BD, we are focused on building a culture of customer-centricity, servant leadership, and inclusion and diversity. To innovate well, we must deeply understand customer needs and create diverse, inclusive teams with full support from leadership to take on big problems. We are nurturing a growth mindset where teams feel empowered to set ambitious goals, fail fast, learn, pivot and continuously improve.

Over the past three months since I’ve taken on the role as CTO, I’ve had the opportunity to visit most of our U.S. R&D centers (and interact virtually with teams at our international sites). After each interaction, I’ve come away feeling inspired and energized by the passion, talent and commitment of our teams to truly understand the needs of our customers and to develop novel and impactful products and solutions. I feel honored to lead and serve this organization. Together, we will create the next wave of innovation for advancing the world of health™.



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