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Meaningful Innovation : The Spirit That Drives US

With costs on the rise and a focus on delivering better outcomes, a new era of healthcare is upon us. Powered by an unwavering Mission to improve lives, Medtronic teams are uncovering the potential that today’s technology offers, both near and long term.

Together—with partners spanning disease states, industries, and geographies—we combine a patient-centric mindset with the expertise and application needed to make a difference for patients, providers, and health systems around the globe.

Co-founder Earl Bakken etched the concept of meaningful innovation into everything at Medtronic. His passion to “put things together, differently” inspired Bakken to develop the first wearable, external, battery-powered, transistorized pacemaker in 1957. That passion—combined with a Mission to improve the lives of patients—remains strong at Medtronic seven decades later.

Today, our therapies help two people every second. With 90,000 employees working across 160 countries, developing patient-focused innovation—and strong partnerships—remain key to an even better, more impactful future.

The number of people who use connected devices to monitor their health is forecast to grow to more than 50 million by 2021. With the advent of remote monitoring, wearables, and telemedicine, and 30% of today’s healthcare spend attributed to administrative costs, the potential is high to significantly impact cost—and outcomes—through monitoring and treating patients in new and different ways.

Our teams have developed technologies and solutions that help anticipate, adapt to, and react to patient needs beyond the hospital setting. Like artificial intelligence (AI), great potential exists in areas such as biosensors, augmented reality, and material science. Additive manufacturing (3D printing) in the industry, alone, is expected to nearly triple by 2021. Navigating this new era of even more personalized, precision medicine, our people work with patients and clinicians every day to identify and address unmet needs across the healthcare system.

More than 10 years ago, Medtronic launched an exploratory project called Deep Miniaturization. At the time, Medtronic employees recognized the potential benefits to patients if implantable devices could be 90% smaller. Now, the world’s smallest pacemaker and an insertable cardiac monitor that is the size of a small battery—both built on the technology the teams developed—are helping patients around the globe.

Working with patients to advance our technology, we see great promise in wearable and implanted devices. While many are already smart, connected, and controlled by patient input, we expect AI will help them to automatically adapt and anticipate patient needs in the future and provide a new approach to chronic pain management. This could significantly reduce the need for prescription painkillers among certain patient populations—reducing hospital admissions due to overdose and helping address a nationwide opioid crisis.

Advanced design continues to enhance the safety, quality, and durability of products. We already see significant progress in this space, with Medtronic minimally invasive tools that help surgeons with early detection and more targeted treatment of conditions like lung cancer and Barrett’s esophagus, a leading predictor of esophageal cancer.

Innovation in the surgical space continues, and in the future, we believe more surgical procedures will be facilitated by robotic, navigational, or automated technologies. Research by Cambridge Medical Robotics suggests robotic surgery will grow to five times its present scale by 2025. As more procedures become facilitated by this kind of technology, we see great potential across the care continuum for patients and intend to be a leader in advancing computer-assisted minimally invasive procedures well into the future.

Our growing global network of innovation centers—from Brazil to China—provides critical insight into the nuances that exist in healthcare delivery from one region to another. What patients and providers in India need, for example, may be different from what is needed in the Netherlands. Even within a single region, needs can vary. Our newest center, in Chengdu, China, is strategically located to serve the needs of Central and Western China. Compared to more developed countries, the region lacks sufficient clinical training for healthcare professionals, with less than half the number of on-the-job medical training organizations compared to the eastern parts of the country.

When we cannot physically be in a healthcare setting to experience what challenges exist, we rely on technology to bridge the gap. At our Applied Innovation Lab in Minnesota, a 360-degree “holodeck” video screen provides an immersive experience that helps scientists and engineers understand the needs of healthcare providers in remote regions and identify the root causes of barriers to care. Such technology played a key role during a 2016 pilot program in Ghana and Kenya that addressed a high prevalence of hypertension in the region. The pilot has since led to the creation of Medtronic Labs Empower Health™, a novel hypertension management model intended to reduce the burden and improve the efficiency of managing hypertension for both patients and clinicians in emerging geographies.

The massive amount of data collected by today’s wearable and implanted medical devices provides insight into the healthcare realities of the future. A partnership between Medtronic and Mercy Health established a data sharing and analysis network that will help record clinical evidence—using anonymous patient data from implantable devices—to further medical device innovation and patient access to care. The partnership combines Medtronic knowledge of medical technology with Mercy’s expertise in integrating data analytics to care delivery.

The advent of big data and the evolution of scientific discovery has caused exponential growth of human knowledge. The key to innovation is harnessing this new knowledge in ways that provide meaningful value to patients. Collaboration is essential to the effort.

Backed by teams of experts spanning disciplines and cultures, Medtronic creates forums intended to accelerate R&D. Internally, the company’s Knowledge Center team built a communications infrastructure
for technical experts across the organization. Internal scientific conferences and symposiums facilitate critical in-person teamwork, while supplemental online platforms like MIX (Medtronic Information Exchange) fill the gaps. In one year, more than 2,000 questions were posted to the company-wide online collaboration tool, and our experts generated nearly 6,000 responses.

Externally, we’ve seen firsthand how patients benefit from accelerated innovation. In 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved our latest technology for type 1 diabetes—the world’s first hybrid closed loop system—with unprecedented speed. The system features a highly advanced sensor, the latest in insulin pump technology, and a dynamic algorithm working together to help patients manage their disease.

For many patients and their caregivers, Medtronic is already making a difference. But there is tremendous opportunity ahead. We envision a day in the near future when capabilities like 3D printing will allow physicians to order customized devices manufactured for specific patients, and training on the latest surgical procedures will happen using augmented reality. Longer term, with the help of our partners, we anticipate a day when chronic disease management becomes effortless for patients, cancer treatment is nothing more than a day procedure, and debilitating heart and brain conditions are not only more treatable but entirely preventable. For the millions of patients we serve, the future starts today. We invite you to share in the possibilities and help us take healthcare Further, Together.


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