Originally Published MPMN
Diagnostics On Demand
Big Brother is watching. But this time, he could be saving lives.
Constant surveillance is the aim of a new generation of pacemakers that continuously monitor a patient’s heart and transmit data to physicians—all from the comfort of your own home. With the Accent and Anthem radio-frequency (RF) pacemakers, manufactured by St. Jude Medical and approved by FDA in July, remote patient monitoring is continuing to make the transition from conversations to the clinic.
Supported by the recently approved version 4.0 of the Merlin.net patient-care network, St. Jude’s cardiac devices employ RF telemetry to securely and wirelessly communicate patient data from a home monitoring system, which reads data from the implanted device, to the clinician. The manufacturer claims that the Accent and Anthem products represent the “first pacemaker devices with automatic test results and complete diagnostics that can be accessed via wireless communication in a clinic or remotely.” Patient information can be obtained on a regular—even daily—basis via the remote-monitoring system without any interaction between the physician and patient.
“The pacemakers were designed in response to physician and patient needs for devices that provide timely, actionable information,” according to Eric S. Fain, president of St. Jude Medical cardiac rhythm management div. “Using the remote-monitoring capabilities, physicians can more efficiently follow patients while patients enjoy the convenience of care from home.”
Among the more-efficient means of monitoring patients cited by St. Jude is
the inclusion of an alert function. The atrial tachycardia/atrial fibrillation (AT/AF) Alert can be programmed to emit an audible alarm when a patient experiences AT or AF in excess of a preprogrammed value or for a worrisome duration. In addition to notifying the patient of such an irregularity, the device communicates the abnormal activity to the clinician from the home monitor. Ultimately, this type of immediate communication between the device and the caregiver could lead to improved, more-proactive patient care.
The introduction of pacemakers capable of communicating with physicians from a remote location will likely have a significant impact on the future of such devices. Assuming that the device performs as planned, this remote-monitoring-capable pacemaker could be a game changer. Once end-users get a taste of constant monitoring coupled with the convenience and freedom supplied by remote monitoring systems, a new standard will likely be set for pacemakers. After all, these communicative cardiac devices are enabling physicians to keep constant tabs on a patient’s heart health without skipping a beat.
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