Medtronic's new Applied Innovation Lab


Applied Innovation Lab puts patient experience first when developing digital health solutions.

This isn’t your father’s IT department.

“Most people think IT is the stuff on your desk,” says Scott Mark, director of the Healthcare Innovation Team within Global Information Technology at Medtronic. “But we’re talking about digital health, innovation, and bringing people together to transform healthcare.”

Recently, that talking has been taking place in the company’s new Applied Innovation Lab. Opened in September 2015 in Mounds View, MN, the lab is designed to foster collaboration between patients and the tech experts who develop digital health solutions to manage chronic health conditions.

Donna Pomeray, a deep brain stimulation patient

"The care I feel is unsurpassed,” says Donna Pomeray, a deep brain stimulation patient. “They truly listened to what I had to say.”

Pomeray is one of several patients recently invited into the Applied Innovation Lab to discuss ways the technology she relies on can be improved.

Mark says the lab represents the evolution of the capabilities of information technology.

“We are looking at how IT can play a bigger role for patients and clinicians as they manage disease,” says Mark. “We are excited about interacting with customers in such a direct way.”

The lab also provides a level of “virtual” collaboration when addressing the needs of patients in less accessible, emerging markets. For example, a group of Medtronic employees is currently working with the Healthcare Innovation Team to address a rising number of hypertension cases in Ghana.

The Global Health Initiative team working on the Ghana project is utilizing the skills of the Healthcare Innovation Team and the lab’s 360-degree “holodeck” video screen, which transports team members into the actual West African healthcare environment thousands of miles away. 

“When we are designing solutions for a specific market, we need to really understand it,” says Mark. “And this enables us to do that.”

“If you can bring people into a place with the right technologies and the right team they start thinking differently,” says Mike Hedges, Medtronic’s chief information officer. “That’s what we need to do to start transforming healthcare.”

“It’s a collaborative workspace,” he says. “It’s where we build digital healthcare solutions that will have a direct impact on patients.”