Medtronic CEO Says Medical Devices Must Demonstrate Economic Value

Rising costs mean health care consumers want to see payback from medical equipment.

CLEVELAND -- Medical device manufacturers must provide evidence that their products provide economic value for customers and patients as health care costs continue to rise, said Medtronic Inc. Chairman and CEO Omar Ishrak Oct. 4.

Medtronic plans to focus more on providing data that shows the economic value of its products to medical facility administrators, said Ishrak while speaking at the Cleveland Clinic's 2011 Medical Innovation Summit.

"We can through the use of data be a bridge between the administrator and the physician so that the clinical value can be translated into economic value," Ishrak says.

Medtronic tries to determine the economic value of a device early in the product-development cycle, Ishrak says. This helps the company prioritize which products it plans to fund and arms Medtronic sales representatives with real evidence of economic and clinical value, according to Ishrak.

Emerging markets present significant growth opportunities for medical device manufacturers, but cost isn't necessarily the primary challenge in these regions, Ishrak says.

A lack of awareness regarding medical technology in developing nations and infrastructure issues often pose greater challenges, he says. But Ishrak echoed similar comments by General Electric Co. CEO Jeffrey Immelt the previous evening regarding the success of India's low-cost health care model.

Consumers in India pay out of pocket for medical treatments so they tend to be more value conscious, Ishrak says. This means many of the company's future technologies could become available in developing countries before they do in other parts of the world, Ishrak says.

Ishrak was named Medtronic's CEO in May after serving in the same role for GE Healthcare. Ishrak was asked about how the company handles product recall issues. In September, the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning regarding some of the company's drug pumps.

Ishrak says transparency and swift action are critical in such situations.

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