Why Medtronic Is Supposedly Not Scared of Google

Nancy Crotti

January 6, 2016

2 Min Read
Why Medtronic Is Supposedly Not Scared of Google

Medtronic's CEO says there's a big enough playing field for everyone.

Nancy Crotti

The healthcare business is big enough to accommodate high-tech consumer companies like Google without necessarily threatening the likes of Medtronic, the medtech giant's CEO said this week.

"They bring a different capability compared to what we bring, whether that will create a competitor or partner is tough to say, and it could be both," Omar Ishrak told the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal.

In 2014, another Medtronic exec predicted that Google would be an "arch-competitor" in 20 years. Consumer tech companies have made several inroads into the medtech sphere since then, including partnerships with major device makers. (Check out some of the major examples from 2015.)

Medtronic is working with Samsung to develop diabetes-management apps. Medtronic, Johnson & Johnson and Apple teamed up last year with IBM's healthcare business unit, IBM Watson Health, to collect consumer data from disparate medical and consumer devices.

More recently, J&J allied itself with Verily, the life sciences division of Google parent Alphabet, to launch a surgical robotics company. Verb Surgical aims to undercut competitors by developing smaller and less expensive operating room technology.

Consumer tech has taken medical devices into its own hands as well, with Google developing a contact lens to help diabetics monitor their blood glucose levels and a health-monitoring wristband designed for prescription-only and clinical trial use.

Apple, which pulled back from seeking FDA clearance for its Apple Watch, is mulling apps to work with the watch instead, and wants to transform medical research with its Research Kit.

Where all of this leaves traditional medtech remains to be seen: with its hand outstretched or looking over its shoulder for what's coming up next. 

Nancy Crotti is a contributor to Qmed and MPMN.

About the Author(s)

Nancy Crotti

Nancy Crotti is a frequent contributor to MD+DI. Reach her at [email protected].

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