Meaningful Innovation: Core to Medtech Sector

Increasing disease burden coupled with India-specific elements, such as younger onset of disease, unhealthy lifestyles, further makes treating NCDs in India more complex and difficult making it imperative to finding innovative ways to deliver healthcare. Through some examples, the author, Madan Krishnan, Managing Director, Indian Sub-Continent (South Asia) at Medtronic, takes you through some meaningful innovations in Medtech sector

Madan Krishnan

Increasing disease burden coupled with India-specific elements, such as younger onset of disease, unhealthy lifestyles, further makes treating NCDs in India more complex and difficult making it imperative to finding innovative ways to deliver healthcare. Meaningful innovation can come in many forms like a new feature to make a product more useful or a unique way to apply an evolving technology to a real-world problem.

Medical devices industry has undergone tremendous change over the last few decades. With the changes in size, shape and new-age technology, one thing has been constant through all of them - Innovation. With product lifecycles in the sector averaging only 18 months between improvements, the drive to advance and innovate within the industry is continuous. Innovation in medical technology improves peoples’ lives, and brings the benefits of treatment to individuals whose conditions may previously have been difficult or impossible to treat. At the same time, innovation is not only improving products, it is improving the way that healthcare is delivered, making healthcare systems more efficient and more sustainable. 

Historically, innovation meant development of new technologies. At Medtronic, we believe that innovation for its own sake won’t work in today’s healthcare ecosystem. That’s why together with our partners in the healthcare sector, we’re focusing our efforts on truly transforming healthcare through meaningful innovations that improve outcomes at the therapeutic, procedural, and even healthcare system levels. 

We are dedicated to helping solve healthcare’s biggest challenges and have always been committed to partnering with physicians to create innovative technologies and generate meaningful insights that improve patients’ lives.  Through some examples, I’d like to explain the meaning of meaningful innovation in Medtech sector:-


  1. Pacemakers have come a long way, and improved millions of lives, since their invention in 1958. They were bulky boxes plugged into walls for power until 1958 when Medtronic developed a four-inch, battery-powered box that could be taped to patients’ chests. From here on it has been a constant endeavor to innovate pacing technology over the years. Medtronic first commercially produced implantable pacemaker technologies in 1960. Later developments include technology that adapts pacing rate to activity levels, MRI-safe devices and finally recently introduced leadless pacemakers which are miniaturized to the size of a vitamin pill
  2. Left ventricular assist device (LVAD) is a mechanical pump that is implanted in patients who have heart failure to help the heart’s weak left ventricle (major pumping chamber of the heart) pump blood throughout the body. It is not to be confused with an artificial heart. An artificial heart replaces the failing heart completely whereas an LVAD works with the heart to help it perform its function. The LVAD has both internal and external components- an implanted pump unit, a controller and a power supply. The LVAD provides blood pressure support and helps maintain or improve other organ functions by improving blood flow to the kidneys, liver, brain and other organs. When used as destination therapy or bridge-to-transplant, LVADs improve the patient’s strength and ability to participate in activities such as cardiac rehabilitation, allowing them to lead a normal life.[1]
  3. Parkinson's disease is a progressive, degenerative neurological movement disorder. It is considerably more common in people over 60. As Parkinson's disease progresses, it becomes increasingly disabling, making daily activities like bathing or dressing difficult or impossible. Medtronic’s belief in meaningful innovations that result in powerful and positive patient outcomes led to the invention of Deep Brain Stimulation Therapy (DBS). DBS helps control movement symptoms when medications aren't working as well as they used to. For many people with Parkinson's, DBS makes a difference when even small tasks have become challenging. DBS has helped some people stay as independent as possible and keep doing the activities they love.  
  4. Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) gives you a more complete picture of your glucose levels, which can lead to better lifestyle decisions and better glucose control. CGM is an advanced way for people living with diabetes to check glucose readings in real-time or monitor glucose readings over a period of time. By using a continuous glucose monitor, your CGM system will automatically receive glucose readings every 5 minutes allowing you to fingerstick less often. CGM can be used with or without an insulin pump. ¶


Camera in a Pill - Capsule endoscopy is a breakthrough technology. The vitamin pill-sized, disposable capsule that has a camera, has been designed for the small bowel and the colon. Once the capsule is ingested, patients can return to most of their daily activities as the capsule naturally passes through the digestive system, wirelessly transmitting more than 50,000 images of the small bowel to a receiver worn by the patient. Physicians can review the footage later to identify potential abnormalities. This is an example of how Medtronic is proud to partner with physicians, hospitals, and institutions that share our goal of providing meaningful innovations that support early diagnosis and improved patient outcomes, for more patients, worldwide.


Traditionally, aortic valve replacement was done by surgically removing the diseased valve. In surgical aortic valve replacement (SAVR) the chest is opened which provides the surgeon with necessary access to the heart and chest cavity, to replace the aortic valve. The valve gets replaced during 2-4-hour procedure (typical) and requires typically 12 day hospital stay.  Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a product and procedure innovation to replace diseased aortic valves by implanting artificial heart valves through femoral artery route (through the leg). It requires a minimally invasive approach i.e. administered through the femoral artery and without an open-heart surgery. Further innovation in TAVR has made these valves recapturable so that physicians can make sure the device is implanted in exactly the right spot. TAVR is recommended for patients who are inoperable or at high risk for open heart surgery. Post TAVR procedure, patients typically can start walking within 24-48 hours and the typical hospital stay is approximately 5-6 days.


A critical means of innovating in emerging markets like India, health system innovation addresses unique obstacles that confront patients when they seek sustainable, high quality, and cost-effective healthcare solutions. To improve access, we must consider the patient’s location and proximity to quality health institutions, availability of highly trained specialists and healthcare practitioners, and an infrastructure that supports the complete patient care continuum. With an example from Medtronic, I’d like to share how we are addressing the barriers of affordability, lack of proper diagnosis and timely treatment to prevent partial or complete deafness through Shruti, an innovative ear care program.

It is now a truly exciting time for healthcare in India, as fundamental shifts are occurring that will change how patients receive care and how we think about what real value means to the population at large. While the Indian healthcare sector has improved over the past couple of decades, there are still many challenges to address in terms of global access and therapy innovation. the industry to grow in India, the sole focus will have to shift from pricing of devices to development of healthcare infrastructure, skilled healthcare workforce development, improvements in the medical curriculum aligned with the latest technology developments, robust regulatory framework and policies that foster med-tech innovation and Government’s emphasis to Make In India. 


¶Only Guardian™ Connect Smart CGM and iPro2™ Professional CGM can be used without an insulin pump.      


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