On 16 January 2013, St Jude Medical announced FDA approval of the next-generation Merlin.net Patient Care Network (PCN), a secure, Internet-based remote care system for patients with implanted medical devices. The newest version of Merlin.net PCN provides clinicians with additional insight into changes in their patients’ heart failure status through advanced impedance and lead monitoring capabilities, improving the management of patients at risk of sudden cardiac death or ventricular and atrial arrhythmias.
To assist physicians in accurately diagnosing and managing patients with heart failure, the new version of Merlin.net PCN enables the remote transmission of patient data measured from CorVue Thoracic Impedance Monitoring, a diagnostic feature that tracks and reports changes in impedance that may reflect changes in heart failure status, monitored by St Jude Medical implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) and cardiac resynchronisation therapy defibrillators (CRT-Ds). The algorithm assesses impedance changes in multiple vectors of the heart throughout the day and provides the flexibility to customise diagnostic reports for each patient.
“Merlin.net PCN’s ability to monitor when there is a significant impedance change is an important advancement to remote monitoring technologies,” said Richard Waters of the Stockton Cardiology Medical Group in Stockton, USA. “Clinicians using this technology will be able to detect heart failure symptoms earlier than ever before, optimising care for patients who are at risk of worsening heart failure.”
The latest version of Merlin.net PCN also features the LeadAssurance Alert, which builds upon existing lead monitoring capabilities by bundling new and existing notifications into one comprehensive alerting suite. Data from the LeadAssurance Alert offers nightly remote alert checks on high-voltage devices to ensure that lead performance is continually monitored and all diagnostics are reported to clinicians.
Merlin.net PCN gathers and stores data from the implant procedure, in-clinic follow-up visits and from remote device transmissions sent from a patient’s home. Remote transmissions are sent via Merlin@home Transmitter, a system that allows patient data from an implanted cardiac device to be wirelessly downloaded and securely transmitted for clinician review. In order to ensure physicians have convenient access to device information, the Merlin@home remote transmitter is now the first remote monitoring technology available that securely transmits using a patient’s home broadband Internet connection. Patients using a Merlin@home transmitter are able to transmit data to their physician via a broadband Internet connection, cellular network and standard phone line. With an increasing number of patients lacking access to traditional landlines, a broadband Internet solution provides an alternative for patients and ensures remote monitoring capabilities are available to those who would otherwise be unable to transmit important clinical data to their clinicians.
“The next-generation Merlin.net PCN was designed to advance disease management of cardiac conditions,” said Eric S Fain, president of the St Jude Medical Implantable Electronic Systems Division. “In addition to advancing monitoring features, we have added broadband capabilities to increase patient access to home monitoring technology. As a company, we continue to focus on developing innovative remote monitoring technologies that enable earlier interventions for clinicians and accessible solutions for patients.”
The remote monitoring capabilities facilitated by the Merlin@home transmitter permit automated follow-up appointments and daily device checks to occur wirelessly, with limited patient action required. This reduces unnecessary visits to the physician’s office, while allowing physicians to become aware of changes with the patient’s condition or device more quickly. In addition to giving physicians more timely access to important patient and device data, the wireless monitoring system allows physicians to compile a more complete patient record by easily transferring cardiac device data into electronic health record (EHR) systems.