Medtronic's pipeline includes spine, robotics innovations despite pandemic setbacks

Spinal Tech

Medtronic's CFO spoke at the Jeffries Healthcare Conference on June 3 about the current state of the company and its pipeline of innovations.

Executive Vice President and CFO Karen Parkhill said that the company has the "broadest and most robust pipeline" in Medtronic's history and she is still excited about the next year, although some projects have faced roadblocks due to the pandemic, according to a transcript from Seeking Alpha. The company is still innovating in the spine enabling technologies and robotics space. 

"COVID did impact us a bit on our pipeline, and particularly for things that were still in testing mode and preclinical and clinical mode, there [was] some impact," she said. "For robotics, the key issue is that we've got a lot of employees in R&D testing, that very extensive and robust platform, and testing the software and hardware integration of it. With COVID, they've had to work remotely, so they're not onsite; they're not near each other [and] they're not with the robot. It's just more difficult to get their job done efficiently."

The company also had surgeons and OR professionals lined up to test the technology in their labs, but were unable to do that testing due to travel restrictions. She said the company is taking steps to speed the testing process and finding creative ways to work remotely more effectively.

Medtronic doesn't have a new date when they expect the next robotic technology to be ready, and had gotten behind schedule before the pandemic hit.

"On the robot, we said even prior to COVID that in our final phases of testing, we were seeing some challenges because we're testing every single little bit of this robot," she said. "And we were seeing some challenges and tweaks that we needed to make between the software with the hardware, and then we had to retest that."

Since then, the company has not been able to catch up due to the pandemic, but Ms. Parkhill said there were no other challenges. "It's a complicated system. We're testing the heck out of it, and we're excited to get it out there as quickly as we can," she said.

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