As I described on Tuesday, orthopedic device makers are putting more control in the hands of patients to make adjustments that used to be handled by physicians. It’s more convenient for patients, but the key to the business model is that such moves reduce the demands on physicians, who otherwise would have to participate in these low-margin, unexciting activities. I mentioned cardiology as another field where device makers think similarly. And I was rewarded today when a colleague showed me an article that illustrates my point perfectly.
When patients with implanted cardiac devices go to the emergency room –even for something unrelated to their heart– they end up having to wait around a long time to have their device checked by someone with special expertise. That has to be done in person and is a real pain in the neck for the patient, especially when it happens on a night, weekend or rural area. The new service included a wand that can pick up data from the device, transmit it to an expert wherever that person is, and integrate the information into the electronic medical record of the hospital and/or physician office.
Don’t get me wrong. Medtronic definitely cares about the patient. But the primary economic motivation for this technology is to take cost and hassle off of physicians and clinics that have to deal with this after-sales service. You can bet that a doctor who gains the benefit of CareLink Express will look favorably on the opportunity to implant more Medtronic devices in the future, compared to a manufacturer who doesn’t have this offering.