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Building catherization labs one at a time

Catherization labs are resource-intensive departments that require investments in infrastructure, organisation, processes and technologies.

At Medtronic, I am responsible for setting-up catherization labs, hospital theatres where cardiac and vascular surgeons perform tedious procedures for repairing hearts and resolving critical vascular complications. The work is part of Medtronic’s Integrated Health Solutions (IHS) business, which was launched six years back as part of Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak’s initiatives to drive Value-Based Health Care (VBHC). The IHS concept is inspiring and a novel one that is aimed towards helping healthcare providers enhance access, cost and quality care by transitioning hospital cath labs from a CapEx to OpEx model; whilst allowing hospitals to put more focus on clinical priorities, and less on operational tasks.

As a healthcare technology management (HTM) expert, my work at Medtronic IHS is both challenging and rewarding. From technology planning to procurement, to management, I lead the Managed Equipment Services (MES) division for Central & Eastern Europe, Middle East, Africa (CEMA) region. MES is a one-stop-shop when it comes to cath lab setup. Whether IHS customers need a state-of-the-art robotic imaging system for a hybrid operating room or a defibrillator for cardiac resuscitation, MES creates meaningful partnerships with hospital teams to deliver comprehensive healthcare technology solutions in the most efficient manner.

In this article, I will try to explain Medtronic’s IHS business from a healthcare technology management perspective and highlight the opportunities it brings to the healthcare industry.

Technology solution beyond medical devices

Since its founding in 1949, Medtronic’s mission has been to contribute to human welfare by the application of biomedical engineering to alleviate pain, restore health, and extend life. Remarkably, this mission has remained unchanged to this day. At its core, Medtronic focuses on developing life-saving devices and therapies from cardiac pacemakers to diabetes insulin pumps. However, with rapid changes to the global healthcare landscape, disease complexity, and rising costs, Medtronic as one of the world’s largest medical device companies sought solutions to address these critical challenges. Keeping these challenges in mind, the IHS business was formed to provide value creation for healthcare providers and at the same time ensure sustainable growth in the long run for the company.

Medtronic’s IHS business is built on four main pillars: Turn-key, Managed Services, Optimisation, and Development. While Optimisation and Development pillars focus on efficiency and growth in healthcare settings, the Turn-key and Managed Services pillars focus on engineering and operational aspects including design, equipping, staffing, and maintenance of cath labs and ancillary spaces. Partnership with healthcare institutions typically ranges between five to 10 years, which allows enough time to create a significant impact and value creation to the healthcare system.

Cath labs are resource-intensive departments that require investments in infrastructure, organisation, processes and technologies. Medtronic’s IHS offers a complete solution for cath labs and manage the full spectrum of services. These include maintenance, operations, and sourcing and supplying third party items that are not manufactured by Medtronic. In fact, a bulk of the capital resources required for a cath lab setup, such as imaging systems, patient monitors, cabinets and furniture, are non-Medtronic products. As a result, in addition to delivering Medtronic devices, therapies, and training, IHS assumes the role of a technology solution packager through partnerships with equipment manufacturers, construction firms, and suppliers.

Shaping a modern-day catherization lab

With the advent of multi-modal imaging technology and the growth of interventional procedures in multiple subspecialties, the cath lab suite has significantly evolved in the last decade. To deliver full cath lab solution in this intricate environment, Medtronic IHS has developed capability centres with multi-disciplinary teams of project managers, architects, HTM professionals, inventory specialists, and operations managers. All these capabilities work coherently to ensure solutions are customised according to hospital needs and are executed to the highest standards.

Like any healthcare setting, building a cath lab starts with planning and assessment. IHS subject matter experts (SME) meet with hospital administration, physicians, clinical staffs and engineers to map the entire patient care pathway, which is aligned with the business model. Depending on the type and complexity of procedures, clinical and infrastructural requirements may vary from one cath lab to another. For example, recent trends in cath lab have been evolving toward the concept of ‘hybrid suite’ and require a much larger space than a conventional cath lab; they also house a conglomeration of highly sophisticated equipment. IHS SMEs take all these aspects into consideration and develop solutions tailored to the specific needs of both the customer and the market.

Healthcare technology management in managed services

Healthcare technology management (HTM) professionals are an integral part of the hospital team for medical equipment and their life-cycle management. At IHS, HTM professionals in MES provide comprehensive healthcare technology solutions in the cath lab space, much like a clinical or biomedical engineering department renders equipment and their maintenance solutions within a hospital. Thus, HTM professionals play a crucial role in managed services in cath labs, from planning and procurement, to the setting up of maintenance strategies and refurbishment.

HTM professionals in MES engage with the hospital clinical team at an early stage to provide guidance on the latest technology in the market and comparative analysis to ensure equipment investments are aligned with clinical objectives and financial investments. Once capital equipment is selected, they provide procurement support for sourcing equipment at competitive market value. Due to purchasing volume and scalability, Medtronic IHS can leverage OEM relationships for additional savings and support, which are in turn transferred to customers. Leveraging these services and benefits eases a hospital’s burden of complex and expensive technologies, whilst allowing them to concentrate their time and efforts where they can generate more value to their business.

Highest standards and benchmarks

The key advantages of solutions like IHS are increasing revenues, containing costs, and improving quality. Healthcare organisations have access to innovative expertise, resources, and technology that may be either unavailable or commercially not viable to develop internally. With over 350 managed service cath labs across Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Medtronic IHS does continuous benchmarking, make improvements, and disseminate best practices to achieve the highest standards. This allows for IHS customers to connect and operate across a global network and become centres of excellence by adopting best practices.

Benchmarking data is also critical for enhancing business intelligence for capability centres like MES, as they bring significant value to the healthcare industry. For example, HTM professionals can bridge gaps between hospital end-users and technology manufacturers, and consequently provide key feedback and input to improve their technologies and services. Due to accessibility to large data, they are easily able to analyse various information on technology trends, standards, and financial impacts across different geographical boundaries, which can be invaluable information to healthcare policymakers.

In summary, Medtronic IHS is a promising solution, enabling healthcare organisations to deliver advanced therapies in cardiac care through a partnership model, which had not been available in the past. Through managed services solutions like IHS, healthcare technology manufacturers will play a crucial role in shaping future healthcare delivery. Technology will continue to be the main vehicle for care delivery, and subject matter experts like HTM professionals will be vital in connecting healthcare technology and their manufacturers with patients and end-users.

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