One Illinois company developing an implantable sensor technology is harnessing consumer technology to give clinicians a better tool to manage heart failure remotely.

August 21, 2015

5 Min Read
How One Medtech Firm is Leveraging Consumer Tech to Fight Heart Failure

If there is one trend that all can agree on these days, it's that healthcare is moving out of the hospital setting and into the home.

That necessarily means that healthcare stakeholders - whether medtech companies, providers or others - need to understand what consumers want. And one company developing an implantable device to monitor heart failure patients remotely has taken on the charge of creating an easy platform that enables not just patients to better use its technology but also empower clinicians to take better care of heart failure patients remotely.

The implantable technology that Endotronix, based in Woodridge, Illinois, has developed is not new. It is similar to the implantable sensor technology that monitors pulmonary artery pressure readings of heart failure patients that St. Jude Medical acquired when it bought Atlanta startup CardioMEMS.

There is compelling data from the CardioMEMS Heart Failure System that shows that regularly monitoring pulmonary artery pressure readings of heart failure patients significantly reduced the chances of patients being readmitted to the hospital. Under Medicare rules, if there are too many heart failure patients readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of being discharged, the hospital incurs monetary penalties.

So there is an incentive for hospitals and heart failure clinics to better manage these patients in the home. Which is where CardioMEMS and Endotronix come in.

But the CEO of Endotronix believes that just offering a mechanism to get these readings from home, while revolutionary in and of itself, is not enough.


The bedside device from Endotronix that patients can use wirelessly to get pulmonary artery pressure readings from an implanted sensor.

The CardioMEMS implant is small but the accessories it comes with are not particularly consumer friendly. The bedside device that communicates wirelessly with the implanted sensor and gets the pulmonary artery pressure readings is bulky and patients have to lie down on a special pillow to complete the process of taking the readings. Traveling necessarily means packing the big reading device, cables and the pillow.

The system that Endotronix is developing has no pillows by contrast.

The bedside device is envisioned as a small tablet with a handle on the back to make it easy to hold. The patient simply picks up the device from the bedside, lies down to get comfortable and relaxed for the reading, holds the device to the chest and presses a button. Then the patient can breathe normally for 20 seconds until a beep is heard signaling that the reading is done. The device will also provide audio-visual clues to help patients hold the device correctly against the chest.

"Our device makes it just very easy for patients to lead their normal life," says Harry Rowland, the company's CEO, in a recent phone interview. "If they are going to travel and visit their family, they can take it with them in thier bag with no problems. It just is really something that is more in tune with the lifestyle of what these patients really experience."

Endotronix is also developing a software platform where other data may also be seamlessly collected - for instance, data from glucometers, activity trackers and wireless blood pressure cuffs.

"Patients who suffer from heart failure often times have co-morbid conditions, so it’s realy helpful for a care team to understand holistically what that patient is going through," Rowland explains.

That picture is then presented to clinicians through a web-based secure portal. This way, a clinician taking care of a heart failure patients may see stable pulmonary artery pressure readings but some other condition that can lead to worsening heart failure and react on it immediately.

The goal is to be able to "shift the care to where the clinicians in the hospital or in the office setting have the tools they need to really make a difference without that patients really needing to come into the hospital," he says.

Harry Rowland, CEO of Endotronix

Patients and caregivers also have an app where they can see their current health status and if need be conduct email exchanges with their clinician. Again the goal is to prevent people from having to leave their homes and travel to get care.

"What we are trying to do with the application within the whole platform is lower the barrier to more frequent communication for patient and clinician where it’s not a burden for the patient and it’s not a burden for the clinician," he says. "They are just able to talk about what matters and when it matters. We are not trying to replace office visit but provide a supplemental enabling communication."

As CEO of an early stage startup, Rowland is aware of long road ahead. The device will require a lengthy premarket approval (PMA) submission to the FDA. But the opportunity is also immense.

"CardioMEMS and St. Jude are doing a phenomenal job of establishing the market," Rowland grants. "But this is early days and there is phenomenal room for growth to really scale this and get to a position where there are these centers that are managing 100 or a 1,000 patients in an at-home setting you need more comprehensive solutions to help do that easily."

Rowland will be a speaker at the MEDevice San Diego conference on Sept. 2 on a panel that will discuss the convergence of consumer tech and medtech today.

Arundhati Parmar is senior editor at MD+DI. Reach her at [email protected] and on Twitter @aparmarbb 

To learn more about medical devices and trends in the marketplace, attend the two-day MEDevice San Diego conference, September 1-2 

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