Medtronic Partners with Garmin, but Still Remains Far Behind Philips

What They Said

Last week, Medtronic announced that it is expanding the capabilities of its Medtronic Care Management Services (MCMS) platform, which evaluates patient biometrics, symptoms, and other health information to enable sorting by caregivers for risk stratification. This software allows caregivers to focus on patients with greater risk. Medtronic is further developing its remote patient monitoring (RPM) platform, adding in information collected from Garmin wearables. The platform offers more than 20 different programs focused on specific diseases and comorbidities (such as asthma, COPD, diabetes, and heart failure), and can now incorporate the data collected from the Garmin wearables allowing patient and their care providers to better manage their health conditions from home. Medtronic is looking to use the data collected from wearables to show deviations in baselines and help treat diseases, like diabetes, but not necessarily make a clinical diagnosis. The integration combines activity measurements from Garmin wearables with the MCMS platform for both chronic care and post-discharge treatment plans, giving health care providers a better idea of how physically active patients are, when they are the most active, how rested they are, and where they visit. This comes after the December announcement that Medtronic was partnering with Fitbit to use their wearables with MCMS, as well ([see the February 3, 2017 LRDHWJ] client registration required).

What We Think

As health care continues to move towards value-based and bundled payments, wearables will begin to play a larger role. If wearables can be proven to be a more accurate and cost-effective method than traditional pathways of care, then they will be favored by providers. To gain consumer and clinical adoption, wearables must offer a more convenient solution and actually help improve an individual’s health. One example is in blood pressure, where recent studies indicate that monitoring people during their daily life offers a better insight into undetected high blood pressure than regular blood pressure checks in doctor’s offices. So as sensor technology in fitness monitoring wearables continues to improve, providing more accurate data ([see the July 15, 2016 LRWEJ and the April 15, 2016 DHWJ] client registration required for both), wearables offer capabilities that are quite close to their clinical counterparts and will help provide a better picture of health. However, wearables can do more than just collect vital signs and activity level. Wearables can also help monitor calorie intake, manage pain, treat stress, and even help seniors live more independently.

Medtronic’s partnerships with Fitbit and Garmin are incremental improvements, helping the company gather data from two large players in wearables. However, partnering with a company like Qualcomm Life ([see the January 20 LRDHWJ] client registration required), which accumulates data from numerous devices, would be far more effective than collecting data from only two companies’ wearables, giving Medtronic access to a much larger ecosystem of devices.  Philips has already partnered with Qualcomm Life to use the company’s 2net hub to provide medical-grade device connectivity for Philips’ HealthSuite platform. This helps Philips improve the data coming from consumer-facing wellness devices, like smartwatches and fitness trackers, and lower the barrier to clinical adoption. Another disadvantage to Medtronic’s strategy is that the company has not dedicated resources to create proprietary smartwatch or tracker hardware; in contrast, Philips and Nokia, for example, offer their own wearables. Philips developed a portfolio of health and wellness devices and Nokia spent $191 million in cash for Withings in order to enter the wellness space. While Philips chose to build internally, Medtronic does not necessarily need to perform the development in-house; there are still acquisition targets for Medtronic with a wearable company like Jawbone already making the pivot to clinical-focused wearables amid financial troubles.

By: Thomas Dawidczyk