Biotronik has released a snazzy new ICD (implantable cardioverter defibrillator) that is the first implant to send ECG data automatically when it detects a heart rhythm disorder. Other vendor's products typically transfer data at a predetermined period, like at night as the patient sleeps near a receiver/gateway device. Along with this advancement in implantable sensor communications, Biotronik uses the Cardio Messenger as a gateway. The Cardio Messenger is designed to be carried by the patient, and transmit data over GPRS (T-Mobile) to an online patient record that's managed by Biotronik in Germany. A phone line can also be attached to the Cardio Messenger's dock if cellular service is not available.

This more immediate form of communications has clinical benefits. Many arrhythmias are not felt by the patient - they don't know to press an event marker button.

“Most of the time, the patient is not aware that he or she has atrial
fibrillation,” says Dr Leal of the Hospital Universitario de Valme in
Seville. “Automatic transfer of the ECG data opens up new possibilities
for the diagnosis of atrial fibrillation. We are immediately informed
on the disorder, and do not wait until the next routine check-up to
initiate the appropriate therapy,” Dr Leal further says. The RIONI
study, which involved 347 patients, showed that atrial fibrillation can
be correctly classified in dual chamber ICDs via IEGM Online in 100
percent of cases.

Combined with the ICD's improved communications abilities, Biotronik's online data management application provides cardiologist's with a better way to manage pacemaker patients.

Furthermore, the new Home Monitoring technology facilitates patient
follow up, as remote diagnosis enables physicians to be continuously
informed on their patients’ health status. In case of any rhythm
disorder in either the atrium or the ventricle, the integrated GPRS
technology automatically sends ECGs of both chambers to BIOTRONIK’s
service center. The physician’s monitor can display more than 30
seconds of IEGM [intracardiac ECG] Online. The intracardiac ECG reflects both the onset
time (period before the rhythm disorder) and the phase after
termination of the event, thus considerably improving the physician’s
diagnostic scope. Moreover, the cardiologist may analyze the ICD’s
programming at any time using the Internet.

Along with the online information system, the Lumax ICD's event driven communications may possibly reduce care delivery costs.

Thanks to individual and event-oriented patient care – patients only
consult their physicians when it is really necessary – clinics and
hospitals can manage their human resources more efficiently. Every
consultation costs time and money, and is a burden for the patients as
it reduces their working or leisure time.

With the Internet-based Home Monitoring technology, BIOTRONIK [...] supports clinics and
physicians who intend to develop efficient disease management programs.
The cardiologists receive pertinent and precise data, and can implement
intelligent data management procedures. A simplified and comfortable
user-interface, multiple automatic triggers for event monitoring, and
an intelligent energy management that leaves the battery service life
practically unaffected by the device’s enhanced functionality, are
further assets of the Home Monitoring technology.

Continuous monitoring of patients with heart rhythm disorders has
already demonstrated its superiority in clinical practice. Each month,
more than 2,000 new patients benefit from the advantages of the Home
Monitoring technology. Some 250,000 people worldwide will receive an
ICD by the end of the year.

Pictured right is the Cardio Messenger taken when I had an opportunity to examine one in the wild.