Meaningful Innovation for Chronic Diseases | Medtronic


Meaningful Innovation

In the past century, the leading causes of death – infectious diseases – declined dramatically thanks to the development of vaccines, improved sanitation, greater public health awareness and modern medicine. Overall mortality from things like the flu and pneumonia decreased by more than 50 per cent, while life expectancy has risen by 30 years.1

However, this shift brings new challenges. Chronic diseases – such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes – are projected to account for 87 per cent of all deaths in high-income countries.2 As health systems are designed around treating acute needs rather than long-term interactions with patients, these chronic conditions continue to rise. We have to find ways to work together as an industry to find new ways to address these conditions.

At Medtronic, we are committed to accelerating the development of meaningful innovations for patients with chronic diseases – innovations that add real value in better patient outcomes at appropriate costs, lead to enhanced quality of life, and can be validated by clinical and economic evidence. This year alone we have invested US$1.5 billion in research and development to bring meaningful innovations to market. And we’re not just thinking about this at the product level, we’re developing innovations for the therapy, procedure and system levels.


Chronic diseases are projected to account for 87 per cent of all deaths in high-income countries.2


Medtronic has invested heavily in heart failure, where we provide meaningful innovations across the continuum of care to help rein in costs of the most expensive disease in healthcare today.

Every year, 50,000 new cases of heart failure are diagnosed in Canada, costing $2.8 billion in direct costs. Twenty percent of these patients will be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days, and if they return home, most do not have access to home care services.3

Medtronic engineers realised one way to help matters was to allow cardiac resynchronisation therapy (CRT) devices to adapt to the individual rhythms of each patient’s heart. This was accomplished with a novel algorithm, which was added to our CRT devices. Such minute adjustments ended up yielding significant value, including reducing atrial fibrillation by 46 per cent7 and overall hospital readmissions by 21 per cent.8 But our technology innovations go well beyond just heart disease. Some of our other technology innovations that have recently been introduced include a miniaturised heart monitor – Reveal LINQ – that has the capability to remotely monitor the heart for up to three years for abnormal heart rhythms that could lead to stroke, and the Solitaire stent retriever, which mechanically removes blood clots in the brain that are causing a stroke.


Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in Canada.9 In its early stages, few, if any, symptoms are apparent so most patients are diagnosed in the late stages, when survival rates decline drastically. Catching this disease at the beginning, when it’s more curable, can improve the chances of long-term survival. However, one of the difficulties in diagnosing patients is getting enough tissue samples from the lung.

To address this issue, Medtronic now offers a unique, minimally invasive tissue biopsy tool and navigation system – superDimension – to reach difficult areas of the lung. Multidisciplinary clinics that included our technology in their offerings saw improvements in quality of care and patient satisfaction.10 And because the system allows physicians to reach lesions deep in the lung periphery where small lesions may reside, it is possible for physicians to diagnose these smaller lesions earlier and start treatment sooner.


Graph: 40% deaths in India from heart disease by 2020

By 2020, the World Congress of Cardiology estimates that 40 per cent of deaths in India will be from heart disease.11


Emerging markets face unique obstacles in their quest to  establish sustainable, high quality and cost-effective health systems. Access is typically impacted by location and proximity to quality health institutions, a lack of quality trained specialists and healthcare practitioners, and insufficient infrastructure or facilities.

In India, the rapid rise of heart disease has earned the country the title “the cardiovascular disease capital of the world”. By 2020, the World Congress of Cardiology estimates that 40 per cent of deaths in India will be from heart disease. A combination of a few of awareness, access to healthcare and affordability of that care are all barriers preventing individuals from seeking treatment.11

Medtronic’s “Healthy Heart For All” programme – which works with local hospitals and physicians to remove barriers to patient access to heart rhythm and vascular treatments – is an early and successful example of our emerging market care pathway approach to help overcome these barriers. The programme works to continually evaluate and improve the entire cardiac patient care pathway and it has worked to resolve issues associated with patient awareness and screening, referral connections between general physicians and specialists, and counselling and financing options for patients who need financing assistance to access therapy options. The programme works with more than 120 facilities across more than 22 cities in India. To date, more than 1,200 physicians have been trained, 147,000 patients have been screened and more than 14,000 of these patients have received treatment.

In addition, Medtronic is working along similar lines in the developed UK market with our own partnerships. Through Medtronic’s Integrated Health Solutions business, we are finding new ways to work with and within hospitals to reduce the cost of care within a risk-sharing arrangement.

A programme was recently conducted with the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in the UK, a major teaching hospital recognised as a centre of excellence in cardiology and cardiothoracic surgery that treats more than 20,000 patients annually. By renewing ageing cath lab equipment with the most innovative medical technology available and by optimising daily operations, Medtronic was able to show significant value creation – including efficiency savings – estimated at £840,000 in the first year. The partnership did this through improving capacity, reducing waiting lists and allowing more focus on core clinical activities. Based on the success of this programme and others like it, we’ve taken key learnings and are now expanding this programme into other regions around the world. We currently run cath labs in 50 hospitals, efficiently managing US$1 billion in cardiac care.

US$1 BILLION  in cardiac care

Medtronic currently runs cath labs in 50 hospitals outside of Canada, efficiently managing US$1 billion in cardiac care.


It will take bold thinking on all levels if we are to have the same results in this century in reducing chronic conditions as we did in the last century with infectious diseases.

Medtronic is looking at how our technology and expertise can be used in new and exciting ways, but we also realise it’s the partnerships we form around the world that can lead to the biggest advances for patients, hospitals and systems.

Join us as we go Further, Together and continue to create meaningful innovations.


  1. UNC Carolina Population Center. Mortality and Cause of Death, 1900 v. 2010. June 16, 2014. Accessed September 1, 2015.
  2. World Health Organization. Chronic diseases and health promotion. 2015. Accessed September 1, 2015.
  3. Canadian Heart & Stroke Foundation. Canada Is Failing Our Heart Failure Patients. February 2, 2016.4.<
  4. American Heart Association. Forecasting the Impact of Heart Failure in the United States. April 24, 2013. Accessed August 31, 2015.
  5. Gunnarsson C, et al. Cost Profile of Heart Failure Inpatient Admissions in the United States: Data from the Premier Hospital Database. Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes. 2013;6:A66.
  6. American Heart Association. Costs to treat heart failure expected to more than double by 2030. expected-to-more-than-double-by-2030. April 24, 2013. Accessed August 31, 2015.
  7. Martin D, et al. Can Adaptive Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy Reduce Atrial Fibrillation Risk? Circulation. 2013;128(22S):A17740.
  8. Tarab AD, et al. Value Health. 2012;15: A 3 49.
  9. Canadian Cancer Society. Lung Cancer. Accessed February 3, 2016.
  10. Data reflects the experience of select institutions and may not be generalized across geographies and treatment algorithms.
  11. The Health Site. ‘India is the diabetes and coronary heart disease capital of the world’. November 17, 2014. Accessed September 8, 2015.