IBM's latest project could spell extended life for cardiac patients. Big Blue's Technology Collaborations Solutions unit has joined with St. Jude Medical of St. Paul, Minn., to create an external monitoring system that helps doctors keep a closer eye on their patients' pacemakers.
The St. Jude Medical Merlin Patient Care System, which has received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is billed as a portable system that monitors and programs implantable cardioverter defibrillators and pacemakers. The system allows physicians to analyze patient data and program the pacemakers more efficiently than was previously possible.
IBM helped with early design and engineering of the system's housing and printed circuit board. Big Blue also helped integrate the large viewing screen with touch-point capabilities, an embedded keypad platform, and a Linux-based operating system. The hardware platform supports Merlin's graphical user interface (GUI) for improved workflow and an enhanced user experience.
As part of a seven-year collaborative agreement between the two companies, IBM will act as the business liaison with the third-party contract manufacturer. St. Jude Medical will distribute the Merlin Patient Care System to clinics, hospitals, and medical facilities around the globe, beginning this month.
St. Jude Medical is one of several healthcare companies IBM is working with on research and development, in the same way IBM collaborates for advancements in gaming.
IBM's recent accomplishments in the medical field include the engineering, manufacturing, and introduction of the Mayo Clinic's portable Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) device in eight months, rather than the industry standard of 18 months to two years, with no defects or returns on the product. They also include: the development of Bang & Olufsen Medicom's wireless pill counter to inform patients and doctors of medications that need to be taken; and Medtronic's custom-designed pacemaker monitor and programmer.