Explorer Surgical’s digital training platform has helped Medtronic during the pandemic and beyond.

Katie Pfaff

December 21, 2021

3 Min Read
Image by Georgiy Datsenko / Alamy Stock Photo

The pandemic caused disruptions across all industries, forcing companies to change their ways of conducting business. Medical device companies were no exception in this fast shift of day-to-day operations. Amid these changes and on the verge of a device launch, Medtronic was able to pivot to a real-time remote learning environment in order to maintain a connection with their customers and to support them through procedures.

Through a collaboration with Explorer Surgical’s digital platform, Explorer Live, Medtronic was able to educate physicians on its new product and keep them connected with experts. The partnership proved integral with the launch of its Illumisite platform, which aids in visualizing lung biopsies and CT scans.

Pivoting During the Pandemic

Fortunately, Medtronic had an established relationship with Explorer Surgical prior to the pandemic: an educational tool for physicians who would be using Illumisite was already being developed. “We were working with Explorer in January 2020 with an educational workflow platform to help our customers become more proficient with our technology. COVID hit and the reality came fairly quickly that things were shutting down and elective procedures were going to be challenging,” said Jodi Weinzetl, senior global education and strategic partnerships director, lung health and visualization at Medtronic. “Reps and clinicals weren’t going to be allowed into the hospital for some time, and we were getting ready to have the biggest product launch in this business unit for quite some time, so it was, ‘What do we do now?’”

The Explorer case support application provided a virtual way to access the surgical suites that were now physically off limits to non-essential personnel. The Explorer Surgical set up provides an immersive connection with the physician through iPads that provide a view of the team in the bronchoscopy suite or OR, another iPad that is trained on the physician’s hands, and a Microsoft Surface that is connected to the Illumisite system being used during the procedure. An educator is able to see what the physician sees and can guide the procedure or assist as needed. Explorer Surgical also provides real-time troubleshooting for any technical issues.

Live Support During Procedures

With the Explorer tool, “we realized we could have cameras on and have two-way visualization and communication, and from there it took off,” said Weinzetl. The imaging tool, Illumisite, was launched and accounts were created or managed remotely. “If we cannot be there for any reason, we ship them Explorer materials in a Pelican case and we are able to support the procedure for the account,” said Weinzetl. “[I get] multiple views on what’s happening in the room since I’m not there in person.” Because the Explorer platform is built upon a procedural workflow for various roles in the room, the team is directed through the procedure, with Medtronic as a real-time guide.

Customers have welcomed the new tool, praising the value-added level of live support it offers, said Weinzetl. The platform has also made way for some additional opportunities, including remote installation of Illumisite in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Peer-to-peer opportunities are also possible through the real-time tool, providing a method for interested physicians to observe procedures, or for physicians to learn about a procedure not yet available in their region. 

Medtronic plans to continue to utilize Explorer for training and other applications. “This is a great opportunity for us to get the proficiency up with some customers until they are comfortable on their own,” said Weinzetl. “There are opportunities to use Explorer as a proctoring tool, and for physicians who only may do a procedure sporadically.” The equipment could be provided and set up but activated only with relevant procedures.

For Medtronic, Explorer has become another avenue to launch accounts, meet customer timing preferences, and offer support to its customers beyond the pandemic. 

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