Innovative technology can greatly improve clinical and economic outcomes — and significantly impact 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 worsened during the pandemic. Those suffering from chronic conditions need better access to more care options, giving them freedom to live their lives.
We leverage local partnerships, physician training, patient education, and technological efficiencies to improve healthcare access. Better access democratizes healthcare, improves clinical and economic outcomes, and reduces costs for all.
Breaking it down
Democratizing accessible healthcare technology can be likened to democratizing the internet — it exists virtually 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, provider incentives, new infrastructures, and a way to upgrade existing devices and make new ones more affordable.
Partnering to improve healthcare access
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 not easy. Every state, government, culture, and community operate differently. As a company operating in more than 150 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 make access more equitable.
Former Medtronic CEO and Chairman Omar Ishrak spoke about increasing access to universal healthcare at the United Nations General Assembly in 2019.
We’re harnessing the full potential of public and private partnerships, from those with governments to those with individual clinicians. 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. Ishrak discussed how 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. Communities and healthcare systems need solutions to help them 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 to reduced 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 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.
Sharing knowledge — physician training and patient education
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, setting them up for success in managing their diabetes. Read more about how we leverage education and advocacy to develop accessible healthcare technology.
Using technology to boost efficiency and improve access
Clinic and hospital infrastructures and governmental procedures rarely change quickly. But improving and iterating on existing healthcare technologies can be faster and are 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 non-COVID patients. When hospitals adopted 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 personal protective equipment (PPE) in the process. Home-based remote patient-monitoring solutions tracked symptoms for numerous conditions, including respiratory infectious disease, so that care teams could intervene if the patient showed signs of decline.
Another example of how technology can help increase efficiency and improve access is Mazor, one of our surgical robotic systems. Robotic-assisted surgery democratizes challenging surgical procedures by allowing more surgeons to perform complex procedures. Mazor expands the abilities of doctors worldwide, which can help more patients in more places access safer, less invasive surgical procedures.
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.