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Medtronic's global reach growing

By: Angie DeRosa

December 6, 2012

CLEVELAND (Dec. 6, 1:10 p.m. ET) — Medical-device maker Medtronic Inc. is transforming itself for growth in the global health-care environment, with a strategy that includes penetrating emerging markets.

That was the message delivered by its CEO, Omar Ishrak, who addressed attendees at the 2012 Medical Innovation Summit held by the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland.

“The underlying need for health care is something that will never go away,” Ishrak said Oct. 30. To be successful in today’s health-care environment, relationships have to be with a broad set of stakeholders, including physicians, he said.

Some 45 percent of Medtronic’s business is outside the U.S. It will continue its penetration into global markets via acquisition. On Nov. 1, the company announced it had acquired China KangHui Holdings, a maker of orthopedic devices based in Changzhou, China. The company complements Medtronic’s existing positions in spine, neuromodulation, neurosurgery, advanced energy and surgical navigation.

But, Ishrak said, Medtronic also is doing what it can organically in other countries. Its “Healthy Heart for All” campaign is an example of innovative marketing and approach to market. The program is focused on India, where heart disease is a growing issue. Health insurance is not common in the country, so most people cannot afford cardiac care.

The innovation had to come through market reach, not necessarily a new technology or product. Medtronic worked to develop a system to get the population of India treated. It included direct-to-patient advertising for free diagnostic events; developing the ecosystem where the company involved industry stakeholders and increased participation in the program. Medtronic also had to manage the pipeline and ensure affordability.

“We know how to create economic value,” he said. “Where cost is incurred is not the same place where benefit is realized.”

He also called for transparency in data and a good product’s advancement into the global registry that is transparent and systematic.

For its part, Medtronic has experienced the impact of product defects and recalls.

“No one wants to do something that is not safe, no one,” he said. “Transparency in data is critical in the future.”