Medtronic bought Corventis to bolster Cardiocom acquisition

By Brian Dolan
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Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsIn 2009 when Corventis first unveiled its technology, its main offering was an innovative fluid sensor, which was part of the array of sensors embedded in its peel-and-stick patch that was eventually named PiiX. One of the grave symptoms for heart failure patients is fluid collection in the heart -- a symptom that most remote monitoring companies track by simply keeping tabs on a patient's weight and looking for signs of sudden spikes.

Corventis' plan was to offer a more precise data point that tracked the actual fluid build-up in a patient's body rather than a proxy for it. After a false start in the market, Corventis pivoted to focus on mobile cardiac telemetry since CMS had already announced reimbursement for these services and Corventis' patch could be used to support that kind of monitoring. The company never made much of a dent in the MCT market, however, and went dark shortly after making the pivot. Most industry watchers had all but assumed that the Corventis story ended quietly about two years ago. Two of the company's four investor groups had even removed the Corventis logo from their website's portfolio pages. 

As MobiHealthNews exclusively reported yesterday, Medtronic acquired Corventis for at least $150 million. Since we first reported on the deal, we've heard from others sources that the price was actually below $150 million. We'll be sure to report on an actual sum if either company ever publicly confirms one. For a multi-billion dollar company like Medtronic, such a deal is hardly material, so we're not holding our breath. For that same reason, such a relatively small deal likely doesn't point to any kind of major shift in Medtronic's product roadmap. But the Medtronic-Corventis deal is still a notable one.

Here's why: Unlike the once fledgling startup, Medtronic is well-positioned to refocus the Corventis technology on heart failure. Medtronic already has the channels and payer agreements needed to roll out the Corventis technology. In all likelihood Corventis will be bolted onto Medtronic's Cardiocom home health monitoring and disease management business. Medtronic bought Cardiocom last year for about $200 million in a deal that was announced by the companies. As we reported at the time, one of the first use cases Medtronic planned for Cardiocom's remote monitoring technology was to keep tabs on heart failure patients for weight gain. Given its fluid sensor, that's likely where Corventis will fit in too.

In its acquisition of Corventis, Medtronic, which is mostly an implantable device company, has acquired a non-invasive, wearable device company. A few years ago Medtronic also made an investment in another wearable sensors company, MC10. MobiHealthNews also broke the news a few weeks ago that Covidien had acquired medical wearable device company Zephyr Technology for an undisclosed sum.

So, at least two big medical device companies have made small moves into digital health wearables. At the same time most of the other big medtech companies -- like Philips and GE -- are standing on the sidelines. Do these two recent medical wearables deals point to the beginning of a mini-trend for medtech acquisitions? Or were they just a couple of opportunistic deals that came about because two pioneering wearables companies were having trouble gaining traction?

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