I heard about Cardiopulmonary Corp a few years ago from Alan Lipschultz, at Christiana Care. Christiana uses Cardiopulmonary's Bernoulli system to monitor ventilators throughout the hospital. The Bernoulli system is similar to a patient monitoring central station, except it supports multiple types of medical devices from multiple vendors. I had an opportunity to talk with company founder and CEO, Jim Biondi MD a few days ago.

Cardiopulmonary targets the point of care with central monitoring and alarm notification for a variety of medical devices. One of the patient safety risks in hospitals is the missed alarm, which can result in a failure to rescue. Alarm notification is an increasing problem in hospitals, as more acute care patients are treated outside critical care units. Many of these patients are on continuous patient monitors, ventilators or both. This problem has even become the focus of a JCAHO National Patient Safety Goal.

While responding to sentinal events is essential, recognizing a patient's deteriorating condition and intervening before a sentinel event is better for the patient (the survival rate for in-hospital cardiac arrest is under 20 percent), and lower cost for the hospital. Once medical device data is brought to a central station (as well as to nurse carried devices), Cardiopulmonary has developed a portfolio of "smart alarms" that look at multiple patient parameters in an effort to catch deteriorating patients as early as possible.

With 50 employees and more than 400 network installations, Cardiopulmonary is more than a bit "under the radar." They have integrated between 80 and 90 different medical devices into their system and have worked with many of the medical device companies and IT vendors like Cisco and Emergin. Because they provide a whole product solution, Cardiopulmonary is rather like a chimera, part clinical information systems company and part FDA regulated medical device company.

One of the things that really caught my attention was the fact that Cardiopulmonary has put a 510(k) on their systems. The intended use includes patient monitoring and alarm annunciation. This was not your normal 510(k) submission because all the medical devices are made by third parties - the systems integration effort (and variability) presents significant challenges to complying with the FDA's Quality System regulation (QSR). As an aside, Jim talked a bit about the FDA's recent audit of the respiratory market; after 42 MDRs that resulted in patient deaths, the FDA audited all the ventilator-related vendors, including Cardiopulmonary. I've ranted repeatedly about the need for a primary cross-vendor cross-product alarm notification system, and to think there's been one around for a number of years. Its sort of embarrassing, really.

The health care industry needs companies like Cardiopulmonary, companies founded on a solid understanding of market requirements and none of the baggage (you know, legacy products, a large installed base, a "tradition" of doing things a certain way) that make innovation such a challenge for larger more established vendors.

UPDATE: Paul Blodgett, from Cardiopulmonary Corp, responds to a question about their use of 802.11FH, which has been discontinued by the original equipment manufacturers. It seems that two years ago Cardiopulmonary moved away from 802.11FH:

[...] we have also adjusted our wireless connectivity philosophy to be more adaptive to existing facility needs. More and more frequently we are in a position of adapting our wireless communication to the existing infrastructure and strategic IT needs of the facility (802.11b, 802.11g, encryption methods, equipment brands, topology, IP schema, etc.) rather than us specifying the infrastructure to stand alone. In other words, we will integrate the system into your facility, and if it is available we will use your existing wireless network. Since the
heart of the Bernoulli technology is the enterprise software functionality, our goal is to deliver real-time information to any output device regardless of the network configuration.