How new CEO Mike Coyle plans to lead iRhythm forward

Taking over as CEO of a medtech company in the midst of a pandemic doesn’t […]

Taking over as CEO of a medtech company in the midst of a pandemic doesn’t seem ideal, but former Medtronic executive Mike Coyle was thrilled to take the helm of iRhythm Technologies (NSDQ:IRTC) in January 2021. The company had had a banner year in 2020, and Coyle believes it has a bright future in a space that continues to grow.

“I always had an ambition to be a CEO of a public company and, when this opportunity came along, I was really impressed with the team that’s here,” Coyle told Medical Design & Outsourcing recently. “This just seemed like the right time to make the move and I couldn’t be more excited about what’s ahead, especially the fact that, despite the strong growth the company’s had over the last several years, I think it’s just on the front end of continuing to drive disruption in the U.S. market.”

iRhythm’s strength in the cardiac arrhythmia detection and treatment space was on display in 2020, as the company’s stock nearly quadrupled in per-share value over the course of 365 days. The company’s Zio XT, an ambulatory cardiac monitor that uses deep-learning algorithms, got a big boost in December when UK regulators recommended it as an option for those with suspected cardiac arrhythmias who would benefit from electrocardiograph (ECG) monitoring for more than 24 hours.

Still, the pandemic’s push to virtual meetings made for an odd transition to CEO.

“You’d love to get your team around the table and start the team-building, but a couple of things make it easier here,” said Coyle, who had served as Medtronic’s EVP & cardiovascular group president. “The company’s in great shape with great forward momentum. [Former CEO] Kevin [King] already put in place some of the most important near- and immediate-term strategies, which are perfectly positioned with what I would be doing anyway, so we don’t have to change direction.”

Before his 11-year stint at Medtronic, Coyle provided leadership consulting services to private equity, venture capital and medical device firms, having previously served as a divisional president at St. Jude Medical, leading businesses including the company’s global pacemaker, implantable cardioverter defibrillator and cardiac resynchronization.

The graduate of Case Western Reserve University with a master’s in business administration from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business also held leadership positions at Eli Lilly. Now, his attention turns to what is ahead at iRhythm.

Coyle said the market opportunity for iRhythm is about $1.8 billion in the U.S. alone for the symptomatic atrial fibrillation patient population, giving the company plenty of room to grow while seeking to broaden its offerings. Analysts see the same space for growth.

Analysts from Truist wrote in a recent report that, following Boston Scientific’s planned purchase of Preventice Solutions, iRhythm will be left as “the only standalone player with real scale in this market segment.”

The market consolidation may offer more opportunities than risks for iRhythm as it seeks to accelerate growth for its Zio platform.  Extended-wear monitoring looks to be “one of the fastest growth subsegments of cardiac monitoring,” growing more competitive over time, they added.

“We believe iRhythm is well-positioned today with strong clinical data, patient-friendly products and a focused commercial strategy which we believe will win in that scenario,” the Truist analysts wrote.

Coyle expects more competition to come into play, namely with Philips acquiring BioTelemetry. He said he subscribes to the theory of semiconductor industry pioneer Andrew Grove that “only the paranoid survive,” and will put that to practice in an effort to stay on top of the space.

“We’re going to be watching closely to see what competitive technologies are being developed and make sure that we continue to stay ahead of it as the company has been able to do over the last several years,” Coyle said.

Part of staying ahead involves dealing with the circumstances such as working remotely from his team. However, the pandemic has created new viewpoints on healthcare delivery and opened up avenues to advance remote monitoring and care. Those avenues are ones Coyle wants to explore at the helm of iRhythm.

“The bright side of the pandemic is that it showed the ability to move between in-clinic treatments and home services,” Coyle said. “If we could actually leverage the cloud and at-home diagnosis, we can serve more patients. We’re expecting a snap back to some degree of how much at-home therapy we’re seeing, but we expect certain accounts who are progressive to think about how to incorporate it into their normal workflow.”

Coyle’s sights are set on maintaining iRhythm’s position atop the cardiac arrhythmia space while drawing on his Medtronic experience in working with payor systems to establish value-based healthcare options. The new CEO hopes to find ways to get the Zio platform to patients who need therapy in more cost-effective and efficient ways than what’s been done in the past with Holter monitors and other technologies.

“I’m very excited about being here,” Coyle said. “When the opportunity came along, I was really impressed with the team here. I couldn’t be more excited about what’s ahead.”

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