Thursday, March 7, 2013

In the mid-1950s, a Minneapolis-based electrical engineer named Earl Bakken developed a wearable, battery-powered pacemaker — a device that would soon transform countless lives. Since then Bakken’s company, Medtronic, has become a world leader in medical equipment and therapies for cardiovascular, neurological, and musculoskeletal disorders, chronic health conditions, and surgical procedures. And today another revolutionary device — iPad — is helping Medtronic deliver its state-of-the-art medical technology to physicians and patients worldwide.

“Our mission is to alleviate pain, restore health, and extend life,” says Linnea Burman, Director of Marketing, Drug Delivery Systems in Medtronic’s Neuromodulation division. “We’re working every day to help more patients have access to our therapies. iPad helps us communicate with clinicians; it helps our stories come to life. The sales representative can pull up information quickly and use graphics to tell a story in a very memorable way.”

Putting iPad in the hands of thousands of employees gives Medtronic the ideal platform to present and explain its visionary medical technologies to health care professionals, individual patients, and patient advocacy groups.

“iPad lets us get information to our customers much quicker than we could before,” says Michael Hedges, Medtronic’s Chief Information Officer. “On iPad, the information is delivered in a way that encourages people to use it.”

Building business with in-house apps

Medtronic has created more than a dozen in-house iPad apps to access proprietary information, improve efficiency, and enhance customer engagement. The apps are distributed through the Medtronic App Store, a password-protected website that lets the company control access to qualified staff and easily provide app updates.

Internal apps include mStar, a field productivity tool for sales reps that integrates with back-end systems for product ordering and registration. “The mStar application automates manual processes and makes them available 24/7 for the reps,” explains Jeff Bipes, IT Manager, Field Services.

Another essential in-house app is mCMS, a content management application that helps sales staff and managers organize, present, and distribute product information by audience or topic. The app works within FDA regulations to make sure Medtronic employees retain control of sensitive data and share it appropriately.

“The content management app for iPad has allowed us to integrate into our back-end systems to manage content, control it, and revoke it if necessary,” Bipes says. “We can trace who’s using it how frequently, and where that content ultimately ends up.”

Security meets mobility

In the office and on the road, iPad simplifies everyday workflows at Medtronic. With Microsoft Exchange support on iPad, employees can stay up to date on email, contacts, and calendars wherever they are.

“If I travel, I take my iPad,” Hedges says. “I don’t have to take it out of my bag when I go through security. I can do everything I want with my iPad when I’m traveling: email, presentations. It’s absolutely perfect.”

To deploy and manage iPad, Medtronic uses a mobile device management (MDM) system that helps the company maintain and update user profiles. “This device management tool allows us to very easily provision users for email, Wi-Fi, and VPN connectivity on their iPads,” says Bipes.

The MDM system also enhances existing iPad security features. Medtronic can monitor how often each iPad connects with internal systems, and automatically remote-wipe proprietary data if an iPad hasn’t “checked in” within a designated timeframe.

Streamlining sales

With built-in features such as instant-on access and 10-hour battery life, iPad has quickly become indispensable for Medtronic’s sales staff. Before iPad, sales reps routinely lugged 25 pounds of printed product literature. Now they can quickly call up the latest information — including dynamic videos, presentations, and PDF files — all on a device that weighs less than two pounds.

“For field-based employees, iPad is an essential device,” Burman says. “The battery lasts throughout the day, and the Multi-Touch screen gives us a better way to organize information. Whether they’re presenting clinical articles or patient videos, the screen size on iPad is fantastic for our sales partners.”

iPad simplifies follow-up as well, Burman adds: “At the end of the sales call, they’re able to email the appropriate material as they walk out the door, rather than wait until the end of the day.”

Right information, right time

With iPad, it’s easier than ever for Medtronic to deliver its message of medical innovation to physicians and patients everywhere. “iPad has given us a whole new sales and marketing interface,” Burman says. “It’s changed the way we think about getting information out to the public. With iPad, our sales organization has the right information, at the right time, for the right customer, every day.”

For Medtronic’s IT team, iPad has been an unqualified success story. “iPad helps people think differently and act differently,” says Hedges. “The IT people love it because the business people love it. iPad is a game-changer in health care.”

Neat article on Apple's site that talks about some of the avantages of having a platform capable of hosting in-house apps, and about the security advantages of the iPad.


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