An easy-to-use in home monitoring device for patients is changing the way doctors monitor the health of patients with implanted defibrillators.
Rush University Medical Center is participating in a pilot study of the LATITUDE Patient Management system to determine if the wireless home monitoring system can decrease hospitalizations for heart failure.
A mini-antenna built into the implanted defibrillator sends data to a wireless system placed in the patient’s home. The data is automatically transmitted to a secure Internet server where the physician can access this medical information anytime, from anywhere.
Unlike other remote devices which only transmit data if certain parameters are out of range, the LATITUDE system uploads health information that can help physicians monitor the day-to-day changes in patients. In addition to the data stored before, during and after an arrhythmia, the system employs a wireless weight scale and blood pressure monitor to record vital statistics crucial for the management of cardiac failure patients. An abrupt change in weight could indicate worsening heart failure.
“This sophisticated system allows physicians to manage the patient much more closely. The same information that would normally require a visit to the office every few months can now be downloaded to the physician at anytime without the patient ever leaving home,” said Dr. Kousik Krishnan, a cardiac electrophysiologist at Rush.
According to Krishnan, the LATITUDE system provides added peace of mind for the patient. The physician can remotely check if the defibrillator is working correctly and assess battery life. If the patient feels the defibrillator activate, he or she can transmit the rhythm information immediately. The physician can quickly analyze the data and determine if the shock was appropriate or if the patient needs to go to the hospital.
“Now with patient information available weekly, or even daily if needed, we can better monitor our patients,” said Krishnan. “We can pick up abnormalities sooner and act on those before they become serious.”
Rush is one of only 18 centers in the country participating in the LATITUDE Inductive Pilot Program which offers remote monitoring for all Boston Scientific/Guidant devices. In addition, Rush is one of the leading enrollers in the DECODE Trial to determine if the LATITUDE monitoring system is resulting in decreased hospitalizations. Heart failure has an annual direct cost of more than $26 billion in the U.S. and is the number one reason for hospitalizations.