Extending Healthcare Technology
Innovative technology can greatly improve clinical and economic outcomes — and make a significant impact on healthcare access.
Every year, noncommunicable conditions like cardiovascular disease and stroke are among the top 10 causes of death in the United States.1 The resources to address these systemic health issues, however, lie behind fragmented geographic, racial, and socioeconomic lines — which have only been deepened by the pandemic. Transforming care beyond the doctor’s office is key to transforming care at scale.
We leverage local partnerships, physician training, patient education, and technological efficiencies to democratize healthcare and improve clinical and economic outcomes for all. In short, that means giving individuals burdened by chronic conditions access to more care options that provide the freedom for them to live their lives. It also means giving communities and healthcare systems solutions to measure value in terms of long-term clinical outcomes rather than short-term transactions. When that happens, accessible healthcare technology leads not only to better patient outcomes but also reduces costs across the board.
Breaking it Down
Democratizing accessible healthcare technology can be likened to democratizing the internet — it exists everywhere, but not everyone has access to it. If healthcare technology is accessible, there’s no guarantee it’s high quality or that your specific device can use it. Fixing those problems requires more than flipping a switch; it requires government buy-in, incentives for the providers, new infrastructures, and a way to upgrade existing devices and make new ones more affordable.
It’s easy to say medical device innovations should reach everyone, from the most vulnerable and underserved patients to those who can easily afford them, but getting there is another task entirely. Every state, government, culture, and community operates differently. As a company operating in more than 160 countries, we see it all. It’s our job to share best practices across borders, partner with others, facilitate changes needed in different contexts, and find new and unique ways to level the playing field.
From governments to individual clinicians, we’re harnessing the full potential of public and private partnerships. We work with local health system leaders, clinicians, and patients to identify access problems and to open new pathways to care. We help build physical and digital infrastructures to support our lifesaving technology and earn trust as a partner that cares deeply. Trust opens doors to places like the United Nations General Assembly, where our former Medtronic CEO and Chairman Omar Ishrak spoke about increasing access to universal healthcare. He was the only private business representative invited, a testament to our Mission and impact.
Most healthcare systems today are based on a fee for a product or service. This method often results in a lack of financial accountability for health outcomes, which can also lead to waste and excessive costs. Our value-based approach to healthcare technology is an integral piece of the puzzle. Around the world, we’re focusing on better clinical and economic outcomes through initiatives that tie therapy investments to results delivered.
The Zip Code Lottery
The greatest determinant in accessing long-term healthcare is often your zip code. In rural areas of Saskatchewan, Canada, people are not always able to get the cardiac care management they need simply because of distance. Our solution was to bring the care centers to the people through remote monitoring.
Over the years, we have worked intimately with healthcare professionals to create a deep bench of care pathway efficiencies and trainings that can flex to meet unique regional, country, and community needs. That effort creates a domino effect of knowledge sharing that can make a significant impact on local communities in need of better care. For example, our diabetes strategy doesn’t stop at manufacturing and selling an insulin pump. We’re testing new models of care in Holland and Saudi Arabia that include nutritional and mental health components to surround the patient with care and education that sets them up for the greatest success in managing their diabetes. Read more about how we leverage education and advocacy to develop accessible healthcare technology.
Governmental procedures, or clinic or hospital infrastructures, can rarely be changed quickly. But improving and iterating on existing healthcare technologies can be game changers for access.
When the pandemic hit, doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers relied more than ever on accessible healthcare technology — both for COVID-19 patients and for those with pre-existing conditions. When hospitals took on new safety precautions in March 2020, we had remote capabilities, products, and services ready in a matter of weeks. In-hospital remote patient-monitoring systems allowed nurses and doctors in the ICU to safely adjust settings for devices such as ventilators and to treat patients from a distance, reducing exposure and saving time and valuable PPE (personal protective equipment) in the process. Home-based remote patient-monitoring solutions tracked symptoms around numerous conditions, including respiratory infectious disease, so that care teams could intervene if the patient showed signs of decline.
With robotic systems like Mazor, more patients, in more places, can have access to safer, less invasive surgical procedures. Robotic-assisted surgery democratizes challenging surgical procedures by allowing more surgeons to perform the procedure. Mazor expands the abilities of doctors worldwide.
We know healthcare technology alone won’t solve the global access problem — but we are tapping into the power of innovation to reach more people worldwide. In 2020, Medtronic therapies improved the lives of more than 72 million patients. Partnerships, education, and efficiencies aimed at better outcomes made that possible and laid the groundwork for more to come. Even as we aim to raise the standard of care for millions of people around the world, our motivation to help even one person live a fuller, healthier life will never end.