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Health tech, bridging the access gap

Healthcare technology can reach more people in new ways, and expand access to care for people in marginalized communities.

Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer are among the world’s deadliest noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) — and they disproportionately impact marginalized populations, creating widespread health inequities. People living with chronic conditions deserve better access to care. But the resources to address systemic health issues lie behind fragmented geographic, governmental, and socioeconomic barriers. At Medtronic, we are working to change that with groundbreaking technology and community partnerships to improve healthcare access.

When it comes to treating chronic diseases, healthcare technology can help more people in more places, through artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics, personalization, and community-based connected care.

  • AI and data analytics: Digital technology is driving rapid, fundamental changes to the delivery of healthcare — from streamlining detection, diagnosis, and treatment of NCDs to empowering clinicians. For example, by creating algorithms from data sets that reflect diverse populations, AI can help reduce the bias that is too often present in healthcare ecosystems, creating barriers to access.

  • Personalization: With hyper-personalization and advanced computing, healthcare technology focuses on each patient, wherever and whoever they are — adapting to their lifestyles to improve outcomes. And it enables clinicians to diagnose and treat conditions while empowering them to reduce healthcare disparities in underserved communities.

  • Community-based connected care: The SPICE platform from Medtronic LABS is the world’s leading digital health platform for community-based population health. Features like remote patient monitoring, telehealth, and smartphone and tablet connectivity give people the freedom they deserve while providing insights that help clinicians reach more people.

We know that healthcare technology should be accessible to everyone, but getting to that point is not easy. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Every state, government, and community needs specific programs that work for them. As a global healthcare technology leader operating in more than 150 countries, Medtronic has a broad understanding of the myriad factors at play around the world and is in a unique position to use our scale, insights, and innovations to improve access.

Health worker with patient

Addressing disparities with technology

Colorectal cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. But some types of colorectal cancer, when caught early, can have a five-year survival rate of up to 91%. Screening is crucial, but not everyone has equal access. The Medtronic Health Equity Assistance Program for colon cancer screening brings together innovative healthcare technology — the GI Genius™ intelligent endoscopy system — and partnerships with local organizations to reach more people. GI Genius™ uses AI to improve detection of hard-to-see polyps that can lead to colorectal cancer, which disproportionately impacts Black adults, who are about 20% more likely to get the disease and about 40% more likely to die from it compared to other groups. The Medtronic program has donated 130 GI Genius™ modules to endoscopy centers in marginalized communities across the United States. With these placements, there is an opportunity to impact more than 350,000 patients over three years.

By collaborating with hospitals and with Mpirik and Vizient, we are working to address disparities in care associated with sudden cardiac arrest. Our data shows that many patients medically indicated for devices that can prevent cardiac arrest do not receive them, with people of color and women getting devices at a lower rate than white men. Mpirik’s AI platform screens electronic health records at five hospitals to identify patients, regardless of race or gender, who meet the criteria for implantable cardioverter defibrillators or cardiac resynchronization therapy defibrillators. By using real-world data to remove potential bias in decision-making, the collaboration aims to improve care pathways and improve outcomes for all patients.

Surgeons review imaging

Over the decades, we have worked closely with healthcare professionals to create a deep bench of medical education and patient advocacy that can flex to meet unique regional, country, and community needs. Those efforts create a domino effect of knowledge sharing that can have a significant impact on local communities. In one year, we reached more than 350,000 healthcare practitioners across our global network of Medtronic Innovation Centers and training sites, and invested more than $69 million in capacity building and training.

We know healthcare technology alone won’t solve global healthcare inequities, but we are tapping into the power of innovation to reach more people in more places. In 2022, Medtronic therapies improved the lives of more than 76 million people. From AI and personalization to community-based connected care, we’re committing to improving outcomes — and building a bridge to better health access.