Medtronic enables pacemaker monitoring by smartphone

'Remote monitoring of pacemakers and other cardiac devices is now the standard of care'
By Mike Miliard
08:54 AM

The new MyCareLink Smart Monitor from Medtronic, just approved by the FDA, enables patients with implantable pacemakers to use their smartphones to transmit secure data from their pacemakers to their physicians.

The MyCareLink app is available for free on Android and Apple platforms and works in tandem with a physician-prescribed portable device reader.

When the monitor is connected to cellular or Wi-Fi service, patients can initiate transmission of pacemaker data, uploading it to Medtronic's secure CareLink remote monitoring network.

[See also: Pacemakers get hacked on TV, but could it happen in real life?]

"Because the MyCareLink Smart Monitor is integrated into existing mobile platforms like smartphones and tablets, it's easy for patients to transmit data from their pacemakers to their doctors via the technology they are using every day," said George Crossley, III, MD, associate professor of medicine and electrophysiologist at Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institution, in a statement.

"This innovation will serve as the foundation for future advances using smart technology to support cardiac patients," he said.

Patients can also use the app to create a personalized profile on the MyCareLink Connect website to manage their pacemaker information and data transmissions, confirm the date of their most recent transmission of pacemaker information and receive email or text reminders, confirmations and notifications of their data transmissions.

[See also: Philips launches 24/7 pacemaker monitoring]

The system reduces the time to receive treatment, if the physician detects a problem with the pacemaker based on the transmitted data, less time spent at a doctor's office or clinic for regular checks of the pacemaker and, ideally, increased survival rates and decreased lengths of stay if a physician is able to more quickly treat a medical problem, Medtronic officials say.

Offering patients this sort of easy connectivity could be a boon for patient engagement, too.

In 2014, we wrote about a promising study that relays data from implantable cardiac devices into personal health records.

Fort Wayne, Indiana-based Parkview Physicians Group piloted the project, which connected 20 patients with ICDs with a NoMoreClipboard personal health record that could receive device data directly.

"The patients are overwhelmingly excited about this," Michael Mirro, MD, a cardiac electrophysiologist at Parkview Physicians Group told Healthcare IT News. "They say, 'This is amazing. I've always wanted to know more information about my device.'"

[See also: Cardiac patients taking PHRs to heart]

The common stereotype is that older patients are "not connected people," said Mirro. "That's bull. Some of the assumptions about the over-65 age group and their connectivity are not true. With some minor training, they're very engaged."

Indeed, "the use of smart technology continues to grow among people of all ages and especially among people over 65, which is the age range of the majority of our pacemaker patients," added Darrell Johnson, vice president and general manager of the Connected Care business in the Cardiac and Vascular Group at Medtronic, in a statement announcing the MyCareLink network.

"Remote monitoring of pacemakers and other cardiac devices is now the standard of care, as studies have established how it benefits patients - including faster diagnoses and increased survival - as well as how it helps physicians manage their pacemaker patients through increased efficiency and convenience," said Crossley.

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