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Wireless Healthcare IT Could Hold the Key to Preventable Readmissions

Posted on December 12, 2012 I Written By

As Social Marketing Director at Billian, Jennifer Dennard is responsible for the continuing development and implementation of the company's social media strategies for Billian's HealthDATA and Porter Research. She is a regular contributor to a number of healthcare blogs and currently manages social marketing channels for the Health IT Leadership Summit and Technology Association of Georgia’s Health Society. You can find her on Twitter @JennDennard.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, CardioMEMS was the winner of this year’s Intel Innovation Award, presented at the Health IT Leadership Summit earlier this month. CardioMEMS has a number of development firsts to its credit, bolstering its recent claim to innovation fame:

  • First wireless communication system for the human body
  • First medical implant completely wafer fabricated
  • Only FDA-approved, permanently implanted wireless sensor

Essentially, the company has developed a first-of-its kind wireless (and battery-less) heart failure monitoring system. As Richard Powers, Vice President of Information Systems, explained to me on my field trip to CardioMEMS’ relatively new offices in Atlanta, the company has figured out a way to, in the least traumatic way possible, implant a cardiac sensor that monitors pressure and wirelessly transmits that data directly to a patient’s physician via a Web-based portal.

When I first came across the company nearly two years ago, the term “Big Data” hadn’t quite gained the buzzy reputation it has now, so I feel confident in saying that CardioMEMS’ analytics team were a bit ahead of the game – not surprising, given that the company was founded by Dr. Jay S. Yadav, its current CEO and still a consulting cardiologist.

In talking with Yadav, I realized he and his colleagues recognize not only the importance of back-end data, but also the value of simplicity.  As Powers pointed out, the sophisticated technology isn’t in the device itself, but comes after on the receiving end. Ideally, physicians will use data transmitted from the sensor to gauge cardiac pressure changes and adjust medication accordingly.

The timing of this technology couldn’t be better, in my opinion, since so much attention is being paid to preventing readmissions, increasing quality outcomes and improving patient satisfaction scores. Benefits of the sensor in clinical trials include fewer hospitalizations, lower cost of care and an increase in quality of life. And I do believe the CardioMEMS team has even figured out the reimbursement angle with CMS, which should make provider adoption of the devices that much more likely.

Pending FDA approval is the only thing holding up a full-court product marketing press, which may, when that approval comes, be aided by partnership with a select provider organization.

I couldn’t leave the CardioMEMS offices, of course, without asking about its plans to integrate into an EMR. According to Powers, integration of the physician portal into an EMR is in fact on the drawing board yet. They are also looking at ways to pull a patient’s EMR data into the CardioMEMS portal. The company is currently working with the Enterprise Innovation Institute at Georgia Tech to look into EMR interoperability.

I’m confident we’ll be seeing some really interesting developments from this company in the near future.