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4 September 2017

Medtronic is a leading partner across the stroke care continuum in Australia. What is the continuum? Prevention, Detection, Treatment and Rehabilitation.

At Medtronic, we are proud supporters of National Stroke Week 2017 (4 – 10 September). This week we will be sharing more information about the stroke care continuum. We will also hear what happens when stroke care is not as good as it could be – highlighting the importance of improving access to patients who need medical technology.

Stroke Week_Fact 1

Evolving stroke care: PREVENTION

Risk factors[1] for stroke include atrial fibrillation (AF), diabetes and high blood pressure (hypertension) – the most important risk factor for stroke.  AF causes an irregular heart beat and when blood flow in the heart is slow it can form clots – if these travel to the brain they can block an artery and cause a stroke.  Uncontrolled or untreated diabetes increases the risk of vascular disease: when artery walls become hard and narrow the risk of stroke increases. High blood pressure can cause clots and blood vessel weakening or breakdown: both can lead to stroke.

Some of the technologies used to address these risk factors include:

  • Pacemaker Therapy & Catheter or Surgical ablation to treat AF
  • Insulin pump and glucose monitoring therapy to treat diabetes
  • Renal Denervation for treatment resistant hypertension

More information on stroke risk factors are available from the Stroke Foundation website.

The new Stroke Guidelines GO LIVE on Monday 4 September. Learn more here.

Subscribe now so you don’t miss out on our other “Stroke Week” blogs for 2017.

[1] (Accessed 21st August 2017)


11 August 2017

It is our Mission to alleviate pain, restore health and extend life. At the moment we achieve this every two seconds with success delivered through timely access to technology for those who require it, and meaningful health outcomes for all.

Science plays a significant role in this goal – but not alone. Founder Earl Bakken worked closely with physicians and their patients at the University of Minnesota and other hospitals where he saw firsthand the life-and-death decisions that surgeons made every day. He knew how much they relied on Medtronic technology and the personal integrity of every employee. A dedication to quality has existed at Medtronic ever since.

Patients play a role in their health outcomes as well. Internet science is a major factor – particularly with the existence of 24/7 online health information – patients are more informed and engaged than ever.

This National Science Week we want to celebrate science, the difference it makes to the community, provide stories about some of our inventions and introduce you to members of our team. You can share your stories below, or on twitter. Tag #medtechscience, #natsciwk


Paul Prof Photo

Role: Quality Systems Manager

Qualifications: Bachelor of Engineering Honours (Biomedical)

Tenure with Medtronic: Almost seven years

Can you tell us about the different ways science impacts the lives of patients with Medtronic therapies? The most obvious manifestation are the many scientists and other highly trained experts from many fields of study applying scientific principles and rigour to the design of Medtronic devices. But beyond the devices themselves, the impact of science on our patients is felt in numerous ways. From the design of clinical studies, through the control and execution in our manufacturing plants, to the submission of dossiers to our regulators, science is embedded in many parts of the Medtronic world and touches each of our patients.

What did you enjoy most about studying science? Thinking back to studying different sciences through school and university, the ability of science to answer the question ‘why?’ captures what I enjoyed most. It answered for me my many inquisitive questions in a logical and usually easy to understand manner. In university, I also came to admire the very scientific desire to pursue the answer when it wasn’t yet known.

What are the key learnings you have applied in your personal and professional life? Foremost, the importance of evidence-based decisions where possible. Extending from this, to take calculated risks, and to try to test and confirm a hunch before diving in. Also, that any situation, unlike a tightly controlled experiment, can usually never be explained by simply one rule or theorem – so don’t ignore the complexity and deal in absolutes.

Women in STEM – what’s your opinion? As with any pursuit, team or industry, diversity is key to pushing the envelope and going beyond what is currently being achieved. I fully support the work that is being done to encourage women to choose to study STEM and then stay in STEM research and careers. My degree class at Uni had about a 50-50 split by gender, but the majority of other engineering streams were far less diverse.

What is your advice to future scientists? Science wasn’t all that cool among my peers when it came to choosing classes at school or courses at Uni. But the world we experience every day is driven and largely defined by science in some capacity, so what could be cooler and more fulfilling than pursuing a career that could redefine some aspect of our world.

To learn more about National Science Week visit

SOMI Hackathon 2017 – Meet our Judge

11 August 2017

This weekend, our team member James Britton will be representing Medtronic as a Judge at the Society of Medical Innovation [SOMI] 2017 Hackathon.

SOMI is a student run organisation at the University of New South Wales, whose core belief is that students have the power to create innovations in medicine that will shape the way we live. It is open to students from all faculties and schools. According to President Jacqueline Kernahan, “The Hackathon aims to inspire creative problem solving through a competitive environment and foster the development of skills which can be applied to future projects. The winners will receive a monetary prize to put towards the further development of their product.”

We wish all presenters the very best. Here is a chance to meet our Judge!

James Britton

Hi James, what is your role at Medtronic? I am currently enjoying my time as the Senior Program Manager, Integrated Health Solutions (IHS) & Value Based Healthcare (VBHC) for our Asia Pacific region. IHS is our services business that solves healthcare market needs through innovative solutions that focus on efficiency and effectiveness of care, mostly within hospitals. Healthcare is transforming to remain sustainable – at the heart of value-based healthcare is a shift to put the patient back at the center of care – what’s best for the patient should drive the system. At Medtronic we are actively partnering to drive meaningful dialogue from thought-leaders across healthcare and how we can transform the incentive in health today to focus on meaningful outcomes to the patient relative to the costs to deliver these. I’ve been developing and executing on our IHS and VBHC strategy along with my team for about 3 years now, overall been working in healthcare almost 10 years starting my career engineering CT scanners.

What interests you most about medical innovation? Of all the industries, healthcare excites me most. To ‘innovate’ in healthcare, the product, service and/or methodology need to improve patient lives – that’s pretty awesome! In a nutshell, those that work in medical innovation will have the opportunity to look at the way healthcare is delivered today and provide solutions that improve patient outcomes for the long term. This is not only focused in the hospital setting but also on how we keep patients out of hospitals as well as deliver treatment effectively within the home care setting. There are tonnes of opportunity for innovation in healthcare and for us to improve patient lives in Australia. Then, we can leverage those best practices in other parts of the world.

What do you think is the key area to address/solve to help medical innovation thrive in Australia? Medical innovation – product or process – has the potential to drive better outcomes and improve costs to the healthcare system long term. But we need to think about how we measure those outcomes. Macroeconomic factors of the modern healthcare environment prioritise volume over value. To facilitate innovation and creative thinking we need to redesign this view and prioritise outcomes that matter to the patient.

You are a judge for the Society of Medical Innovation’s Health Hackathon. What are you looking forward to most? Really two big things: 1) I’ve always have had a passion for developing employees, whether that means their next promotion or supporting their decision to go back to school for additional education. I see a similar opportunity being a judge for this Hackathon; I get to learn more about the future pioneers of healthcare innovation, what are their values, drivers and career interests. 2) I think it’s going to be fun hearing everyone’s ideas!

Why do you think it’s important to support initiatives like the Hackathon? Transitioning a worthy idea into reality is tough – but it is also important if we want to advance society and drive innovation. Initiatives such as the Hackathon provide problem–solvers and innovators with the opportunity to showcase their idea, and an avenue to help realise it.

What is your advice for people looking for support of their ‘big idea’? Pin point what problem you’re solving and the economic value that will bring to a healthcare system. In today’s healthcare market, with an aging population, rise in chronic diseases and a unsustainable growth in healthcare spend as a percentage of GDP, any meaningful medical innovation will have to improve outcomes for patients or reduce costs to the healthcare system (or both!). Not so easy to do, but definitely possible. Once you have that, prototype and pilot your ‘big idea’ with the appropriate stakeholders so that you can test the impact. Then once you have some positive results work on a sustainable business model that allows for scalability.

Please subscribe to our blog! Tell us you have by tweeting @MedtronicANZ.


10 August 2017

Philanthropy is a powerful way to meet the needs of a community. It unites those with capacity and those with an opportunity – and there is a science behind it!

In our organisation we have a Philanthropy Committee who explore opportunities to give grants, give time and give goods in Australia and New Zealand. Our Philanthropy Liaison shares advice on the ‘art and science’ to strategic programs and strategic giving through a simple why, what, when and how approach:

“Why? Why are you important and why is your ‘ask’ the best way to improve community outcomes? Why is this part of your long-term strategy? Articulating this is important – it demonstrates a method to your thinking and commitment. It also means potential partners can add unexpected value and advice on other ways you can achieve your goals.

What? Remember that corporate partners can offer more than money. Be clear on what you need, yet flexible enough to consider alternatives.

When? Be clear on project timelines. It is ok to hold corporate partners accountable for the promises they make – as you will be held accountable too.

How? It may be necessary for corporations to understand how you will achieve goals to ensure they are supporting compliant and responsible initiatives. Be open about your plans. Prepare a timeline on how and when you will track and communicate success. Clear goals aid clear expectations.”

This National Science Week we want to celebrate science, the difference it makes to the community, provide stories about some of our inventions and introduce you to members of our team. You can share your stories below, or on twitter. Tag #medtechscience, #natsciwk

MEET A MEMBER OF OUR TEAM:  Mary CanningMary canning003

Role: Director of Marketing – Respiratory & Monitoring Solutions and Early Technologies

Qualifications: BSc Psychology and Respiratory Therapy

Tenure with Medtronic: 10 years

What are the key learnings you have applied in your personal and professional life? Science is logical and I believe I have been able to apply logic in the decisions I make professionally and personally – well at least until my son turned 16.

In your mind, what is the connection between science and philanthropy?  Philanthropic generosity facilitates the great work scientists and researchers do in advancing medical technology.  Not dissimilar to what our Mission drives us to focus on strategically; charitable groups also have a strategic approach to their activities.

What did you enjoy most about studying science? I realised very quickly when I was in Respiratory Therapy that what I did made a difference in people’s lives – when you see the person you treated in the Intensive Care Unit walk out of the hospital with their family – it is very humbling to know you were part of that.  That awareness is still there today and is top of mind in everything I do in my professional life.

What is your advice to women in STEM? We are all aware of the statistics related to women in STEM. Our environment facilitates the struggle that is experienced when women are at the stage of their lives when they believe that conflicting choices need to be made – career vs family.  Women should never resign themselves to thinking it needs to be one or the other.  The balance can be achieved – we are wired for it.  Do not underestimate what you can accomplish – if you want it, go for it.

To learn more about National Science Week visit


9 August 2017

Small; def; of a size that is less than normal or usual. Miniature.

Miniaturisation is the trend to design and manufacture smaller technology. It’s a trend the medical technology industry has been investigating for decades – smaller devices that deliver meaningful patient outcomes.  But there are challenges and it isn’t always about making the same components smaller – it is about recreating an entire system and method for therapy delivery.

Achieving miniaturisation relies on computer science and disciplines including Artificial Intelligence [AI]. The application of AI in medical technology can provide patients and healthcare professionals with access to essential knowledge, in a timely manner, and assist informed decision making. AI is becoming so sophisticated that it can adjusting therapy automatically based on algorithms. Plus – the ability to deliver AI via  wireless technology means it doesn’t impact size.

Another factor impacting device size is the power source. Medical technology requiring power generally contains a battery.  Standard coin-cell batteries (used for watches) are now significantly more energy efficient. This science directly impacts the size of devices.

Smaller and compact devices can have a number of benefits. For example, delivery through smaller incisions leads the way for minimally invasive therapies which has the potential to reduce procedure time, infection and recovery for patients. Procedures such as aortic valve replacement once required open heart surgery can now be delivered through a catheter placed in the body through a keyhole incision in the groin.

This National Science Week we want to celebrate science, the difference it makes to the community, provide stories about some of our inventions and introduce you to members of our team. You can share your stories below, or on twitter. Tag #medtechscience, #natsciwk


Kelly Thorne

Role: Senior Marketing and Education Manager, Cardio Vascular Group

Qualifications: Bachelor of Science in Biology, Masters of Business Administration

Tenure with Medtronic: 15 years

In your mind, what is impressive about the science of small things? The most impressive thing to me about this move to miniaturisation is that every part of the technology has to be recreated to make it work!  The batteries, capacitors, circuitry and every other internal part of the pacemaker, for example, has to be completely re-imagined after remaining largely unchanged for 40 years or so.  And in many cases the downsized versions have more capabilities than their larger counterparts.

What did you enjoy most about studying science? I really enjoy understanding the background behind things.  One of my favourite courses was anatomy and physiology because I found it really fascinating to understand all the cascade reactions in the body and how one thing leads to another.

What are the key learnings you have applied in your personal and professional life?Studying science has taught me to be a life-long learner and always ask how and why things work.  It has also taught me persistence and to not take no for an answer.  There is always a solution to every problem if you look at it from different angles.

Women in STEM – what’s your opinion? It’s great to see more and more women entering the science and technology fields.  Of course I think women are capable of doing anything they want to do so I’d encourage anyone interested in a STEM field to go for it!

What is your advice to future scientists? My advice would be never lose your sense of curiosity and continue to be a life-long learner.

To learn more about National Science Week visit


8 August 2017

What springs to mind when you think about the science of big things? Perhaps the ‘Big Bang’ [the cosmological model for the universe], or perhaps the most ambitious experiments in the universe

In the area of medical technology – ‘big things’ apply to breakthroughs in research, new technology and importantly positive outcomes for patients. Technology can be big in scale as well.

In most modern operating rooms around Australia, the largest piece of medical equipment is for imaging. Every day, physicians in neurosurgery, orthopaedics, trauma surgery, and also in ENT use intra-operative imaging to help achieve their objectives. The technology can be used before, during and after surgery to provide better insight to a patient’s skeletal anatomy.

When developing the road map toward development of capital equipment like this; thousands of decisions are made, and essential design criteria is determined. In this case; patient safety, image quality, sterility and ease of use in the operating room are critical.

Even when the technology is developed, teams of scientists and engineers continue to make improvements to software and hardware.

A ‘big’ deal in surgery is exposure to radiation for patients and clinicians. Developments to navigation technology offers multiple image protocols allowing flexibility to minimise radiation to staff and patients based on the clinical objectives.

Here are facts on the ‘biggest’ piece of equipment at Medtronic:

  • The equipment weighs approximately 864kg
  • The equipment can store approximately 20,000 2-D images; or 750 3D scans on hard disk
  • The equipment is 2 metres tall and almost 2.5 metres wide.
  • During procedures, the equipment wraps itself around the patient to provide real-time, 2D or 3D imaging that reveals what is happening inside of the body and aids in guiding hardware into position precisely.

This National Science Week we want to celebrate science, the difference it makes to the community, provide stories about some of our inventions and introduce you to members of our team. You can share your stories below, or on twitter. Tag #medtechscience, #natsciwk

MEET A MEMBER OF OUR TEAM:  Melita ChagasMedtronic Macquarie-000297

Role: Senior Product Manager, Navigation and Imaging

Qualifications: Bachelor of Science (Biomed. Sci.), Grad. Cert. Professional Management

Tenure with Medtronic: Four years

In your mind, what is impressive about the science of big things? Big things like the navigation system have presence and wow factor, being able to merge multiple types of images of the brain on a large high resolution touch screen to create a story and to help surgeons make critical decisions while operating is impressive stuff.

What did you enjoy most about studying science? I was studying right at the time when the Human Genome Project (i.e. the sequencing of the entire human genome) was being finalised. The HGP was a defining moment in science history and that made Biomedical Science such an exciting field to be in.  I also made lifelong friends while studying science.

What are the key learnings you have applied in your personal and professional life? Studying science teaches you how to think logically.   One of the questions I learned to ask as a science student in one of my very first lectures was “What causes that?” Keep going with that until you think you are at your endpoint.  It is such a useful question and way of thinking not just for scientists, but something that you can use in both your personal and professional life.

Women in STEM – what’s your opinion? It is well-documented that women bring a different skill-set to the table when it comes to the workplace.  By creating a better balance and tapping into more of these skills, imagine what could be achieved in STEM!

What is your advice to future scientists? Studying science opens doors.  Never underestimate which direction your science background could take you in.

To learn more about National Science Week visit


7 August 2017

Did you know that the foundations of Medtronic began with a trip to a matinee movie in circa 1934?

At the age of eight or nine, Earl was watching a showing of Boris Karloff’s 1931 Frankenstein – the story of a ‘mad scientist’ who brings to life a man he has created in his laboratory. Earl was fascinated by electricity and the opportunities beyond lighting in a room. His interest sparked. Through High School Earl drew plans for rocket ships, radios, and futuristic houses with wiring. He was also the first person students or teachers would call to care for the town-address system, movie projector and other electrical equipment at school.

It was a few years later that his church leader suggested Earl direct his interest in science towards benefiting human kind. Science was in his mind and heart. Along with his brother-in-law Palmer Hermundslie, Earl founded Medtronic on Friday 29 April 1949. You can read more about the Medtronic story here.

Medical technology relies on all branches of science – Natural science, Social science, Formal science and Applied science. Our team work across all branches – continually learning and evolving our technologies and ourselves. It’s a passion we share with partners throughout the community.

This National Science Week we want to celebrate science, the difference it makes to the community, provide stories about some of our inventions and introduce you to members of our team. You can share your stories below, or on twitter. Tag #medtechscience, #natsciwk

MEET A MEMBER OF OUR TEAM:  Darren ForrestDarren Forrest_2

Role: Director of Quality and Regulatory Affairs

Qualifications: BEng (Hons), MMedSci and PhD

BEng (Hons) – Bachelor of Engineering in Materials Science and Engineering

MMedSci – Masters of Medical Science in Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering

PhD – Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Fatigue failure of a coated titanium implant alloy

Tenure with Medtronic: 7 years and 2 months

Can you please describe the science behind regulation?  In the most simplistic terms the science behind regulations is based on the fundamentals of experimentation and the reproducibility of results. My role in Regulatory is to ensure devices we manufacture behave in the way they were designed to and that the clinical benefit to patients is real and definable.

In your mind, why is science an important foundation? Science is a foundation to solving real world problems. As an example, Earl Bakken was faced with a problem – he needed to keep a patient alive when the grid electricity supply was interrupted. This required consideration of: the theory behind how electricity interacts with the world; the resistance and impedance of our surroundings and of a human body; and, an understanding of how a battery stores energy and releases that energy in a controlled manner. Individually, they are simple scientific concepts – but they were also the foundation for Earl Bakken to turn theory into useful and lifesaving technology.

What did you enjoy most about studying science? The real applications to real world problems. I had a great science teacher who gave me not only the theory behind the science but allowed us to fully understand how to apply the science.

What are the key learnings you have applied in your personal and professional life? The principles of scientific investigation and studies. These skills enable me to prove or disprove theories across all areas of my life, and have allowed me to develop my career in directions I would not been able to predict.

What is your advice to future scientists? Do not be limited by artificial barriers. Science and the application of scientific principles have no barriers. Sometimes the technology to implement ideas is slow to catch up – and sometimes you need to create it – just like Earl.

Please subscribe to our blog. Daily posts for National Science Week 2017.