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Why Medtronic Is Bullish on the AI Opportunity in Medtech

Medtronic CEO Geoff Martha makes a strong case for AI-enabled care at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference.

Amanda Pedersen

January 9, 2024

3 Min Read
Medtronic's Touch Surgery Enterprise Platform, one of several ways Medtronic is leveraging AI in medtech.
Medtronic's Touch Surgery Enterprise platform is one way the company is advancing AI in medtech.Image courtesy of Medtronic

Medtronic CEO Geoff Martha knows that company presentations about artificial intelligence tend to get a lot of eye rolls from the audience. But on the first day of this year's J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, Martha made a strong case for why Medtronic's AI-enabled offerings are the real deal.

Today, the Dublin, Ireland-based company is harnessing the power of AI for use in clinical decision support, creating new indications, and delivering personalized treatments.

One of the company's biggest AI success stories is its GI Genius intelligent endoscopy module, which was named to the prestigious Fortune Change the World list in 2022.

"GI Genius in our endoscopy business is putting our GI business on the map," Martha said.

Medtronic is finding in real world settings up to 50% of polyps are missed during traditional colonoscopies that the AI is picking up without any false positives, he said.

"This market is highly under penetrated, the AI space within colonoscopies, and we’re seeing very strong growth with this GI Genius technology," Martha said. "I believe it’s going to become the standard and we’re expanding this platform to enable additional AI applications for GI procedures."

Medtronic is also leveraging AI to process surgical videos with its Touch Surgery Enterprise technology.

"When a surgeon walks out of the procedure, that procedure is broken down by all component parts, right on their phone, instantly and annotated," Martha said. "So, you can kind of watch the game tape right after you get out of the procedure, so this is a lot of value for training, compliance, etc."

Machine learning algorithms has also been a secret sauce, so to speak, behind Medtronic's turnaround in diabetes.

In Medtronic's cardiology business, AI was the "unlock" for the company's Linq insertable cardiac monitor technology. In fact, the company's AccuRhythm AI algorithm technology helped the company win "Best New Monitoring Solution" last year in the MedTech Breakthrough Awards program. The algorithm was added to the Linq insertable cardiac monitor to improve the accuracy of atrial fibrillation detection and other abnormal heart rhythms.

"The unlock here was AI," Martha said during his presentation Monday. "We were picking up all the afib and then some. [Physicians] didn’t want any false positives, they’re really looking for 100% sensitivity and specificity, and the unlock was AI. As we eliminated those false positives, this business has taken off."

Martha sounded bullish when talking about Medtronic's position to lead the industry in leveraging the power of AI.

"We are positioned to advance AI in medtech ... we're putting the 'tech' in medtech, given several differentiators when you compare us to other medtech companies, and even the tech companies," Martha said.

The company has the upper hand in terms of domain expertise in medical devices, the accumulation of millions of patient data sets, the trust of hospitals, data and analytics expertise, and a track record of working with regulators on AI-enabled medical devices.

"We’ve been working very closely with the regulators on this, we've spent a lot of time with regulators around the world, especially FDA, on how to think about AI in healthcare," Martha said. "So, this is a very big opportunity for us to leverage our scale and our unique position, and I believe we're at an inflection point. That’s why we’re creating this AI center of excellence in the company in order to further leverage common platforms so we can do this more officially. I know when I listen to presentations from other companies, sometimes when the AI stuff comes on, you get a little bit of an eye roll. But this is legitimate here. I mean these are FDA-approved products where you’re seeing meaningful improvements to the current standard of care that translate to better patient outcomes, translate to lower cost, translate to better access."

That's not to say the journey will be easy.

"It’s a lot of work," Martha acknowledged. "This isn't about ChatGPT, I mean we have to train the models ourselves with a lot of high-quality data, but the impact is amazing."

About the Author(s)

Amanda Pedersen

Amanda Pedersen is a veteran journalist and award-winning columnist with a passion for helping medical device professionals connect the dots between the medtech news of the day and the bigger picture. She has been covering the medtech industry since 2006.

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