News Feature | November 18, 2015

Medtronic Launches World's First App-Based Remote Monitoring System For Pacemakers

By Suzanne Hodsden

All Medtronic pacemakers will be compatible with the app.

The FDA has approved the launch of Medtronic’s MyCareLink Smart Monitor, a system that connects implantable pacemakers with the patient’s own smartphone or tablet using existing iPhone and Android technology. Research shows this app-based approach gives patients a more intuitive platform to communicate with their caregivers, improves their standard of care, and reduces healthcare costs.

Traditionally, implantable devices have been monitored through follow-up appointments scheduled with the clinician, with no surveillance available between visits unless the patient detects a problem and calls their doctor. In a paper published in European Heart Journal (EHJ), authors wrote that remote home monitoring can cut down on unnecessary clinic visits and provide earlier detection of potential adverse events.

In studies cited by EHJ, 78 percent of patients — including elderly patients — preferred remote monitoring to the traditional model of care. Less than five percent of patients were reluctant to try remote monitoring, expressing concerns about new and difficult technology and loss of privacy.

According to George Crossley, associate professor of medicine at Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institution, Medtronic’s smart monitor addresses some of these concerns by integrating with technology that patients already own.

 “It is easy for patients to transmit data from their pacemakers to their doctors via the technology that they are using every day,” said Crossley in a press release. “This innovation will serve as the foundation for future advances using smart technology to support cardiac patients.”

The MyCareLink Smart Monitoring System includes a handheld device reader, which is prescribed by a physician, and a free app that patients can download onto their preferred device. Using a wireless connection, patients can securely upload their data into the Medtronic CareLink Network, and the MyCareLink Connect website allows patients to manage a profile, to confirm the date of their last transmission, and to receive text or e-mail reminders.

A recent study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) found that wireless remote monitoring — as compared to traditional in-office follow-up — “significantly reduced the time to a clinical decision in response to clinical events and was associated with a significant reduction in mean length of a cardiovascular hospital stay.”

These advantages — said experts — not only translate into higher patient survival rates, but also significant reduction in overall healthcare costs and increased efficiency for managing physicians.  Darrell Johnsons, VP and GM of the Connected Care business in Medtronic’s Cardiac and Vascular Group, commented that this monitor is the first of many innovations cardiovascular patients can expect in coming years.

Smart-based medical equipment that pairs remote monitoring with increased patient involvement is swiftly becoming the standard of care. Over the past few years, top names in the industry have been investigating ways in which chronic illness — such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and asthma — can be more efficiently and cost-effectively managed with big data analytics and smart technology.

In September, Medtronic launched the MiniMed Connect, the first device that would allow diabetic patients to view their insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor information on a connected smart phone.