Advanced Analytics On Your Heart, Via Wireless Device - InformationWeek

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3/29/2012
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Advanced Analytics On Your Heart, Via Wireless Device

Biomedical Systems device can remotely monitor patients with atrial fibrillation for up to a month, help manage heart rhythm abnormalities.

Telemedicine Tools That Are Transforming Healthcare
Telemedicine Tools That Are Transforming Healthcare
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Biomedical Systems has introduced a new heart monitoring device that records and wirelessly transmits every heartbeat for up to 30 days, performs advanced arrhythmia analysis, and provides immediate online access to all transmitted electrocardiograms (ECGs).

The St. Louis, Missouri-based company said the TruVue Wireless Ambulatory ECG Monitoring System helps manage heart rhythm abnormalities and is targeted to an estimated 2.7 million Americans living with atrial fibrillation, as well as patients with other complex cardiac arrhythmia.

For those patients passing out due to intermittent slow heart rates that could be treated with a pacemaker, or those suffering from symptoms due to an arrhythmia that can be cured with a catheter ablation, the TruVue device offers a better approach in treating heart patients, said Dr. Carey Fredman, a cardiologist affiliated with St. Luke's Hospital in Chesterfield, Mo.

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"As an arrhythmia specialist, we see patients whose symptoms (syncope [fainting], palpitations, racing heart, etc.) may or may not have a true "arrhythmia" basis," Fredman told InformationWeek Healthcare. "Documentation is critical not only to make this determination but also to give us a good idea as to the mechanism of the abnormal rhythm and thereby decide how to best treat the patient."

The TruVue Wireless Ambulatory ECG Monitoring System remotely monitors patients by automatically transmitting every second of an ECG to secure computer servers located at Biomedical System's headquarters in St. Louis. Computer algorithms then perform analysis on the ECG, measuring rates and rhythm, specifically looking for atrial fibrillation, pauses, and ventricular tachycardia, company officials explained.

"Significant events are posted in a queue for validation by certified cardiac technicians, and reports are then posted online via Biomedical's GlobalCardio Web application for review by physicians or their staff," Dave Bondietti, Biomedical Systems' senior VP of marketing and business development, told InformationWeek Healthcare. "The patient can press a button on the device to indicate that they feel a symptom, and that segment of ECG will also be posted in the queue for cardiac technician review and inclusion in reports. Reports can be output as part of an HL7 message for integration with electronic medical record systems."

Dr. Fredman said some of his patients have been using the device for several months and noted there are both benefits and limitations to the system.

For example, the device will capture, record, and review heartbeats if necessary for the entire monitoring period, which usually is weeks. It is, therefore, helpful in those patients in which 24- or even 48-hour monitoring is unlikely to be long enough to identify an intermittent abnormality in a patient's rhythm. The TruVue monitoring system also enables near-real-time continuous monitoring of the patient's rhythm, outside the hospital, while the patient goes about his or her usual daily routine, which in the past was not possible, Fredman said.

However, there are limitations, Fredman said. In some patients a month of monitoring might still not be enough to get the answers a doctor needs, and there can be information overload. "Sometimes seeing every heart beat can be 'too much' information and you must know what rhythm abnormalities have no significant consequences to the patient and therefore do not require treatment," Fredman added.

The 2012 InformationWeek Healthcare IT Priorities Survey finds that grabbing federal incentive dollars and meeting pay-for-performance mandates are the top issues facing IT execs. Find out more in the new, all-digital Time To Deliver issue of InformationWeek Healthcare. (Free registration required.)

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