Medtronic CareLink Network extends cardiac patient monitoring beyond clinic walls

Atlanta 18 March 2002Medtronic Inc. has completed the first phase of its rollout to United States clinics of the Medtronic CareLink Network, the industry's first Internet-based service which connects cardiac device patients and physicians for "virtual office visits". The Medtronic CareLink Network is a medical information system that combines the patient's monitor, a Web site for clinicians, and a Web site for cardiac device patients and their families or caregivers.

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The Medtronic CareLink Network has been used by ten clinics and 59 patients with GEM II DR implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs), which detect and stop fast heart rates known as ventricular tachy-arrhythmias and protect patients from sudden cardiac arrest. Preliminary feedback indicates that patients were able to successfully use the Medtronic CareLink Monitor to transmit data to their physicians, and that physicians cited important implications for improved patient care. The company expects to roll out the Medtronic CareLink Network to additional United States clinics over the next several months.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the Medtronic CareLink Monitor for use with Medtronic GEM II DR/VR ICDs, and the network is designed to also support Medtronic's other ICDs, pacemakers, heart failure devices, and monitoring/diagnostic devices, which will be possible following future FDA approvals. Medtronic currently has an implanted base of approximately 2 million patients.

"The success of the Medtronic CareLink Network to date confirms high levels of patient acceptance and physician enthusiasm for enhancing patient care with this new system", stated Steve Mahle, president of Medtronic Cardiac Rhythm Management. "We are working with reimbursement experts to broaden access to the technology to support this new service offering and are excited to continue our staged rollout to additional clinics and, later this year, with other devices so that more people can enjoy the potential time- and cost-saving efficiencies the system offers."

The Medtronic CareLink Monitor is a small, easy-to-use device which allows patients to collect information simply by holding a small "antenna" over their implanted device. The monitor automatically downloads the data and sends it through a standard home telephone connection directly to the secure Medtronic CareLink Network. Clinicians access their patients' data by logging onto the clinician Web site from any Internet-connected computer in their office or home, or via laptop while travelling.

The network provides powerful applications that enable the review and analysis of device and physiologic data, giving clinicians the information they need to make prompt, informed decisions when and where needed. In addition, the network provides clinical data management, health information and many other services to both clinicians and patients.

With the Medtronic CareLink Network, patients can connect with their physician from home or any other location within the United States with a standard phone line. Patients can view information about their devices and conditions on their own personalised Web site, and family members or other caregivers also can view this information if granted access by the patient.

"Through regular access to reliable patient data using CareLink, I can better understand a patient's condition", stated Dr. Mark Schoenfeld, associate clinical professor of medicine at Yale University School of Medicine, and one of the physicians involved in the initial Medtronic CareLink Network rollout. "That means I have the possibility of diagnosing a previously undetected condition and promptly initiating therapy to reduce health risk to the patient."

"For example, upon reviewing data transmitted remotely by one of my patients, I diagnosed a silent form of atrial fibrillation, a condition in which no symptoms are felt by the patient. As an important cautionary measure, I prescribed anti-coagulation medication to reduce the patient's chances of experiencing blood clots and stroke, which are risks of the patient's newly diagnosed irregular heart rhythm condition."

Medtronic Inc., headquartered in Minneapolis, is a medical technology company, providing lifelong solutions for people with chronic disease.


Leslie Versweyveld

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