GMP has closed a Series A-1 round raising a
total of $17.2 million. Proceeds will be used to fund the growth of
LifeSync Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of GMP Companies. Here's the blurb on the product and company:
Corporation is a medical device company dedicated to the continued
development, marketing and sale of the LifeSync Wireless System. The
LifeSync System is the first wireless electrocardiogram (ECG) data
communication system appropriate for use in hospital and outpatient
settings where cardiac ECG and respiration monitoring are required.
LifeSync System is based on Bluetooth technology and interfaces with
existing patient monitoring equipment to allow healthcare facilities to
monitor patients wirelessly. The system is used with LifeSync LeadWear
disposable products which replace traditional reusable lead wires. The
LifeSync System offers several clinical benefits including
significantly increased accuracy of patient alarms and decreased risk
to patients of hospital acquired infections. LifeSync's products and
systems are FDA approved and sold to hospitals and stress labs across
the United States. The Company believes the LifeSync System, when used
in conjunction with existing patient monitoring systems, is the new
standard for ECG monitoring.
LifeSync System allows caregivers to convert existing bedside monitors
to wireless technology. The company says that caregivers and their
patients can get total freedom from lead wires, enabling focus on
patient care, not on wire management and false alarms. In addition,
patients can move about more freely and ambulate more easily. The
LifeSync System is designed for use in critical-care units, coronary
care units, cardiac cath lab, stress lab, emergency departments,
bronchoscopy suites and endoscopy suites where continuous bedside
monitoring and frequent 12-lead diagnostic ECGs are needed.Here's
the real story. LifeSync uses Bluetooth as an ECG cable replacement between the patient and the patient monitor or telemetry unit. The Bluetooth transceiver boxes weigh about 1 pound each – two are required. The photo right shows a model wearing the LifeSync ECG electrode set that includes 3M Blue Dot electrodes and flexible flat wires that run to the Bluetooth transmitter attached to the model's arm. The patient monitor has a similar box that houses a Bluetooth radio that receives the ECG signal.
So let's look at the patient side of the solution. LifeSync does deliver the benefit of no ECG cable between the patient and the device that could possibly tangle up the patient. The Bluetooth link also allows the patient to get up and go to the bathroom without pulling out wires – although if they go too far the ECG signal is lost. And if you're monitoring any additional physiological parameters (SpO2 is commonly used with ECG) you still have a cable to the monitor for that sensor.
The traditional reusable ECG cable is replaced with a disposable one bought from LifeSync. Poor electrode placement, loose electrodes and motion artifact (from patients rolling over in bed or brushing their teeth) will still generate false positive or nuisance alarms. The net reduction in alarms will vary from patient to patient. The use of a disposable electrode set can have an impact on hospital acquired infections, if you have a problem with that.
On the device side you have this transceiver that plugs into the ECG cable connector. Monitors tricked out with LifeSync are not really “wireless monitors.” A real wireless medical device provides extended mobility over an area greater than the 30 to 50 feet claimed by LifeSync. And with the exception of telemetry monitors, wireless monitors provide a display and alarm annunciation that moves with the patient. A patient wearing a LifeSync lead set and transceiver has no local display or alarm notification.
A product of this type will never become a “new standard for ECG monitoring.” The press release does mention some good applications though – areas like the cath lab, stress test or cardio rehab, where a moving patient and/or mobile staff would clearly benefit from a reduction in cables. High volume diagnostic areas would probably benefit most from the infection control advantages offered by a disposable ECG electrode set. While this product targets a market niche that is probably too small to interest medical device vendors, I don't see a lot of up side either.
It will be interesting to see where they choose to invest the funds. The ECG product has been complete for some time, so unless they're working on a smaller and less expensive transceiver (and the money is really in the disposables anyway), or extending the product concept to other parameters, they won't be spending a lot on R&D. A company could develop a complete telemetry system for a lot less than $17.2 million; perhaps the plan is to compete directly with device vendors. Or maybe the cash will cover the current burn rate and ramp up sales and marketing. These days you usually need something pretty compelling to raise this kind of money – and there's nothing that compelling in the press release.
In addition to owning LifeSync, GMP Companies is also the exclusive licensee of Motorola's Besson patent. This is a broad patent that covers the wireless communication of physiological data (i.e., ECG data) using Bluetooth. You can read the actual patent here.