For decades, Medtronic innovated to overcome challenges and ensure patients got the care they needed. Now, the coronavirus has created an entirely new set of challenges. When hospitals were overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients and had to limit clinician and patient exposure to the virus, outpatient visits declined. Once again, Medtronic innovation — this time, our remote care tools — were part of the solution.
Healthcare has always been hands-on, but remote technology is changing healthcare delivery. Doctors carry iPads™ instead of satchels. Patients with diabetes can now get personalized alerts about their glucose levels on their smart phones connected to one of our apps and stand-alone continuous glucose monitoring systems. Nothing can replace in-person care, but technology helps navigate a world where distance keeps us apart.1
Medtronic introduced the world’s first remote cardiac monitoring system in 2002, and today it is used by two million patients worldwide. The technology is playing an important role during the pandemic by keeping those patients out of hospitals and clinics. Our Bluetooth™-enabled cardiac devices can be programmed from a distance by clinicians, reducing exposure to the virus for both patient and providers.
Telehealth Services Protect the Protectors
The coronavirus spares no one, not even our bravest men and women — military veterans. When COVID-19 hit the United States, Medtronic quickly developed new remote monitoring solutions — based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for COVID-19 — for patients served by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Home Telehealth program. Once the solution was in place at the VA, Medtronic rolled out a similar offering for other hospital systems and even to its own employees.
In a matter of weeks, we developed, piloted, and launched a software upgrade for our most advanced ventilator to enable onsite remote monitoring and management. When COVID-19 cases surged in New York City, state and federal government converted the cavernous Jacob K. Javits Convention Center into a field hospital. To help, a Medtronic team quickly deployed several technologies to remotely monitor the oxygen saturation in patients’ blood to enable detection of respiratory deterioration. The setup would normally take weeks. They did it in two days.
“Our remote monitoring solutions can help clinicians stay safe while focusing on what matters most – delivering quality patient care.”
–John Liddicoat, M.D., Executive Vice President and President, Medtronic Americas Region
As countries began restricting travel to try to slow the spread of the virus, our clinical support teams were finding new ways to train medical professionals on the safe use our devices and therapies, many of which were critically needed to treat COVID-19 patients. We shifted training online, using web-based tools and extended reality platforms. When a doctor in Qatar reached out for help operating one of our implantable pain medication pumps, a Medtronic specialist in Saudi Arabia walked him through the steps via a virtual chat.
Though we will still need the remote tools we’ve relied on to help us manage the pandemic, there will likely be new ways to reach patients remotely, paving the way for even greater access to medical technology. We’ll keep asking the hard questions and allowing our curiosity to propel us toward new discoveries. We’ll keep finding new ways to make people’s lives better, planning for the next big discovery, and standing ready to take on the next challenge.
iPad is a trademark of Apple, Inc.
The Bluetooth® word mark and logos are registered trademarks owned by Bluetooth SIG, Inc. and any use of such mark by Medtronic is under license.