Steve Rietiker, MD

Physician, CEO and speaker investing in the future of the healthcare industry

The 2017 St. Gallen Symposium Copy


100 days of President Trump: disruption or health process?

Last Thursday (4 May) I was invited to attend the annual St. Gallen Symposium and talk about my experiences as a CEO in the USA. The Symposium is a tremendously stimulating and refreshingly casual gathering of key decision-makers from all over the globe. And “Disruption” was the main theme of this year’s event.

It’s clearly a very topical issue right now: the workshop had been over- booked in advance. In the course of the proceedings, I was interviewed by Arthur Honegger, the anchor of Swiss TV’s “10 vor 10” evening news program. Arthur (who ran the session brilliantly, by the way) has his own experience of working in the USA: he served for eight years as Swiss TV’s Washington-based US correspondent, and is regarded throughout Switzerland as one of the country’s best-informed journalists about US affairs.

The main focus of our interview was, unsurprisingly, on my experiences in the US since the election of Donald Trump, and on my dealings with the new administration. I declined to engage in a general “slamming” of the new President, however. My experiences with the new administration have by no means all been controversial, in terms of the healthcare industry or in purely political terms. I also see clear opportunities in the new political style of the new administration, provided it remains in office for a reasonable length of time.

As the CEO of a stock exchange-listed corporation – LifeWatch – and as a Swiss/US dual national, I believe that we will not see any radical changes to our business and economic collaborations with the USA. Sure, there is a certain risk of greater isolationism from the new regime. But given the Americans’ generally pragmatic approach to things, I don’t expect any revolution in the US’s relations with Europe or the rest of the world.

As always, this year’s St. Gallen Symposium was a fascinating event. The only thing that worried me was the way it revealed how few seasoned US experts we have in Switzerland who can really assess the current political situation through their own experience. And in this sense I see an urgent need for people to listen more to those with such practical field experience, and for us all to share these experiences as much as we can.

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