Medtronic, Inc. has announced the U.S. launch of the CareLink Express™ Service. The company says this remote monitoring system enables clinicians in healthcare facilities to quickly obtain data regarding the status of Medtronic implanted cardiac devices, facilitating faster treatment decisions.
Medtronic is trumpeting the service as an industry “first”, setting a new standard in connectivity by enabling a device expert to remotely review device data and send the information to the hospital within minutes.
Patient benefit and efficiency are two principle drivers behind the remote monitoring movement. We’ve all seen or experienced the seemingly interminable waiting room scenario with six month old magazines and poor patient being shuffled from pillar to post. Patients with implanted cardiac devices, when visiting emergency departments or operating rooms for any reason – including accidents or illnesses unrelated to their implanted cardiac device – often have to wait to have their implanted devices checked in-person by a qualified device expert. Especially in rural areas, this process can require multiple phone calls, extended stints in hospital waiting rooms and unnecessary trips for clinicians.4
Medtronic, while not the only company to be trying to occupy the remote monitoring space with its CareLink Network, does claim to be the first to have a finished in-hospital offering in the form of what it’s calling CareLink Express.
With the CareLink Express system physicians no longer have to wait for a cardiac device expert to arrive to perform device checks; instead, physicians and device representatives remotely evaluate a patient’s device status.
The system has been piloted in a 55-site program over the past 6 months. In the pilot, hospitals using CareLink Express were able to reduce patient wait times from an average of 84 minutes to less than 15 minutes. 2 The reduced wait times are intended to expedite clinical decision making so that patients receive needed care sooner, and to reduce bottlenecks in expensive care settings such as the emergency room.
How it works
Medtronic provides healthcare facilities with a CareLink Express monitor, which is compatible with almost all Medtronic ICDs, CRT devices, ICMs and pacemakers. The one-touch monitor is used to check or “interrogate” the implanted Medtronic cardiac device.
When a patient with an implanted Medtronic cardiac device arrives at the healthcare facility, the facility staff uses the CareLink Express monitor to check the implanted device and the device data is transmitted to the CareLink® Network.
When the data is transmitted to the CareLink Network, a device expert receives an automatic notification via page or email indicating that new information is available.
The device expert reviews the information remotely and provides an assessment of the device status to the hospital.
Based on the device assessment, the healthcare facility staff determines the appropriate treatment for the patient.
The device data from CareLink Express can be automatically exported to the facility’s electronic health records (EHR). In addition, the implanted device data is automatically sent via the CareLink Network to the patient’s device-following physician, for immediate access.5
“In line with Medtronic’s stated goal of offering products and services that provide enhanced economic value to hospitals and clinicians, our data shows that CareLink Express reduces burdens on physicians and hospitals by increasing workflow efficiency and reducing operating costs,” said Pat Mackin, senior vice president and president of the Cardiac Rhythm Disease Management business at Medtronic. “These efficiencies demonstrate that quality of care and cost reduction can work hand-in-hand; it’s not necessary to diminish patient care in order to reduce healthcare costs.”1
“Incorporating CareLink Express into our hospital has enabled us to provide better service to our cardiac device patients by providing them faster access to care, while improving our patient flow and decreasing costs related to delays that occur while waiting for device checks to be completed,” said Tina Santos, vice president of patient care and chief nursing officer at Heywood Hospital in Gardner, Mass., which participated in the CareLink Express pilot program. “This new technology has the potential to significantly impact our efforts to reduce costs in our emergency departments and operating rooms.” 3
1 CareLink Express Pilot Data (Medtronic CareLink Network, 2012)
2 CareLink Express Pilot Data (Medtronic CareLink Network, 2012)
3 CareLink Express Pilot Data (Medtronic CareLink Network, 2012)
4 CareLink Express Field Evaluation (November 2011).
5 CareLink Express Service Concept Description, Human Factors Engineering Intended Use, Human Factors Engineering Task Analysis.
6 Medtronic CareLink Metrics Database, May 2012.
7 Medtronic Finance Metrics, May 2012.
Source: Medtronic Inc.