Medtronic and Aetna: the good and bad implications

A break in the ‘Perpetual Battle of Stalingrad’ that is also a Pointer to the Big2Big Future

Last week US insurance giant Aetna announced a partnership with medical device Gargantua Medtronic to pilot a program for uncontrolled Type 2 diabetes. Aetna will use claims data to identify 300 members who meet candidate standards for insulin pump therapy, Medtronic will reach out to them through their physicians to enroll them in the Getting2Goal program–as long as the insulin pump is Medtronic’s. The two-year program’s metrics will evaluate overall health outcomes and medical costs such as reduced ER and hospital stays. This is a fairly solid, albeit small N program for both. Other Aetna/Medtronic partnerships are a program for congestive heart failure (CHF) detection announced at HIMSS14, where Aetna plans to monitor device data to track the extra water retention that is usually an indicator of progressing heart failure; and an implanted glucometer program to monitor insulin levels for diabetics to avoid hypoglycemia.

Is this a Pointer to a Limited Future for Small, Innovative Independent Companies? Is this now signalling the US’s Big Payers only want to deal with Big Medical Device? “Value-based arrangements with companies like Medtronic” (release) make it ‘one-stop shopping’ for payers when it comes to physician relationships, IT implementation, data sharing and analysis. Will the end result be that payers stifle the revenue opportunity for small to midsize innovators by saying ‘don’t bother to knock”? Are these financially and technologically the best solution for the patient and for outcomes? (It’s like specifying only one hip or knee implant for all, and may sound familiar to our UK readers who have been following our recent articles on a certain telecare provider.) Aetna release, MassDevice, MedCityNews