When asked today when things will return to normal for the medical device industry, the leader of the world’s largest medtech company quickly responded: “I don’t want to go back to normal.”
Martha, who spoke during The Virtual Medtech Conference hosted by AdvaMed, acknowledged that the pandemic, economic crisis and social unrest have exacted a huge human toll. But he also said companies and the society as a whole have learned a lot.
“I don’t want to go back. I want to go forward,” Martha said.
“As painful as it’s been over the past couple of months, the new normal is exciting,” he later said.
Martha mentioned a few lasting changes he already sees post-pandemic:
- Whether it’s a sales rep providing technical support during device implantation in an OR or device checks and reprogramming, the work can be done remotely. “Anything that can be done remotely and virtual is preferred.”
- People having to be rehospitalized over a medical device was never acceptable — but it’s even less so now. Martha said that products that have fewer complications, proved by data, are getting a higher and higher premium.
- Medical device companies have a lot to learn from companies outside the industry. For example, there’s the way automotive companies effectively manage their supply chains — or the digital capabilities in the high tech space. “There’s lots to learn for us as we broaden our horizons, and laser focus on the things that really matter.”
- Medtech companies need to play bigger and weigh in on some social issues. “How can we be part of the solutions for issues like social justice?”
Martha has already been touting plans for a “new Medtronic” that is more nimble and competitive. The company has kicked off a major restructuring — with expected annual savings of $450 million to $475 million by 2023.
Medtronic said in an SEC filing last month: “This new operating model will simplify Medtronic’s organizational structure and accelerate decision-making and execution.”
Martha is about six months into his tenure as Medtronic’s CEO. The company has announced that his predecessor Omar Ishrak has stepped down from his role as executive chairman and will retire from the company’s board.