Patients, physicians, researchers, and institutions can now access digital data that is produced as a result of advances in medical devices and treatments across many areas of specialization. Medical device and consumer electronics companies are huge businesses and when they work together, they create potential advances in care that can change lives. Samsung Electronics America and Medtronic, each among the top five in sales in their respective businesses, first worked together in midyear 2015; in December, they announced a further alliance to develop future digital products based on Medtronic’s expertise in medical technology and Samsung’s leadership in consumer electronics.
The alliance will focus on Medtronic’s neuromodulation technologies and Samsung’s device interfacing and digital data delivery capabilities. Neuromodulation is the regulated delivery of electrical impulses and pharmaceutical products within the nervous system. Neuromodulation is used in chronic pain management, movement disorders, severe spasticity, and urologic and gastrointestinal disorders. The goal is to improve physician and patient access to information from implanted medical devices via smartphones, watches, tablets, and computers for better data collection and care management.
In the companies’ first joint effort, announced in June 2015, they worked together to improve glucose level monitoring and insulin pump management for diabetics. The plan going forward is to use devices such as Medtronic’s Interstim II neurostimulator with conditions such as urinary and bowel incontinence. Medtronic currently manufactures a wide range of stimulation and pharmaceutical delivery devices and as those and future devices are combined with Samsung’s user interface and data delivery technologies the implications for improved care have significant potential.
Many of the products we cover are from startups or university labs who are simultaneously developing new technology, making them work with mobile devices, and looking for funds for further development, production, marketing, and distribution. When companies the size of Samsung and Medtronic work together, many of the barriers faced by startups disappear. Overall, the spread and acceptance of digital health technology will be hastened as big players such as these enter the arena.