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The wearable trend doesn't need to be viewed as a threat. One medtech veteran explains how traditional medtech manufacturers can benefit, even thrive, as a result of mHealth data.

Marie Thibault

September 30, 2015

3 Min Read
How Mobile Health Data Can Boost Traditional Medtech

The wearable trend doesn't need to be viewed as a threat. One medtech veteran explains how traditional medtech manufacturers can benefit, even thrive, as a result of mHealth data.

Marie Thibault

Oftentimes, new technologies are viewed as disruptors that eventually put existing technologies or procedures out of business. On the medical device side, coronary stents were one such disruptor, replacing coronary artery bypass surgery for many patients.

While it might look like wearable technology could do the same for some traditional medical devices—see MD+DI's recent coverage of mobile devices that are shaking up cardiac monitoring—the innovation disruption isn't always a threat to device makers.

Speaking to an audience on September 30, John Mastrototaro, vice president of informatics at Medtronic, explained that mobile health technology has the power to prove the value of current medical technology. Mastrototaro was speaking at the “Mobile Health: The Power of Wearables, Sensors, and Apps to Transform Clinical Trials” conference, hosted by the New York Academy of Sciences and Medidata.

Instead of viewing wearable technology as something completely separate from or as competition to today’s medical devices, Mastrototaro detailed the ARREST AF study as a specific instance that shows that wearable technology could perhaps help traditional technology in the future.

ARREST AF, which stands for “Aggressive Risk Factor Reduction Study for Atrial Fibrillation and Implications for the Outcome of Ablation,” was a five-year study of a group of patients who underwent atrial fibrillation ablation. Catheter ablation procedures are commonly used to treat afib, but the success of this treatment is sometimes marred by high recurrence rates. These afib ablation patients were allowed to opt into risk factor management (RFM) that was intended to reduce risk factors like weight, blood pressure, glucose, and lipid levels. Of the group studied, 61 patients chose to enter the RFM cohort while the other 88 patients were the control cohort. 

Mastrototaro explained that at the end of five years, the RFM patient cohort ended up experiencing statistically significant reductions in the weight, blood pressure, glucose, and lipid risk factors, and that this group was also a stunning five times more likely to be alive and arrhythmia-free—87% versus 18%—than the non-RFM cohort.

The takeaway? Risk factor management like exercise and diet makes a big difference on afib ablation success and patient outcomes.

Medtronic is one manufacturer of ablation catheters for afib ablation procedures. “This is important to the medical device manufacturers like us who make ablation catheters,” Mastrototaro said. “If you’re using an ablation catheter on patients and it’s only 18% successful, it might not be used much . . .”

It follows that wearables might have an important part to play alongside device treatments. If physicians could monitor their patients using wearable technology, they might be able to encourage and ensure better patient outcomes following traditional device-based treatments.

Medtronic has a finger in the mobile health pie with Cardiocom, which it acquired in August 2013. Cardiocom offers a telehealth and remote monitoring platform to enable real-time information from and caregiver feedback to patients with chronic diseases.

Want to catch up on the latest in medical device innovation? Register for the MD&M Minneapolis conference , November 4–5, 2015.

Marie Thibault is the associate editor at MD+DI. Reach her at [email protected] and on Twitter @medtechmarie

                                             [Image courtesy of STUART MILES/FREEDIGITALPHOTOS.NET]

About the Author(s)

Marie Thibault

Marie Thibault is the managing editor for Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry and Qmed. Reach her at [email protected] and on Twitter @MedTechMarie.

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