A flurry of press releases over the weekend caught my eye, announcing that the FDA has given pre market approval to GE for their CARESCAPE Patient Data Module. Naturally curious, I started poking around. First things first; the CARESCAPE Patient Data Module is apparently a battery powered data capture device that is somehow attached to GE patient monitors that are connected to the patient as the patient moves through their hospital stay - presumably connected to a variety of patient monitors along the way. The module holds 24 hours of data (at least 3 days shy of U.S. hospitals ALOS - average length of stay). From the press release:

CARESCAPE Patient Data Module ensures that the receiving nurse has a
complete monitoring history when a patient arrives. Advancing GEs
history of parameter excellence and the customer-proven success of the
predecessor product, TRAM®,
CARESCAPE Patient Data Module reflects more than 10,000 hours of testing
and feedback from more than 700 clinicians. Its innovative, lightweight,
miniature design allows it to stay with the patient to capture and store
all patient measurementsboth standard and
specialtyproviding clinicians with the
unique ability to maintain critical baseline measurements typically lost
during transport. Its close-to-the-patient design reduces the length of
cables that typically tether the patient to wall-mounted equipment, and
its simple grab-and-go transport capability reduces the potential for
connection delays.

Marquette Medical introduced the modular Tram architecture 10 years ago, and this appears to be as much a refresh as a new module. An alternative approach would be to wirelessly acquire patient monitoring data and make it available to all clinicians over the network, rather than just the nurse at the bedside. Certainly there are use-models where wireless connectivity is not practical - like pre hospital monitoring - so local 24 hour trending and waveform review is a good thing.

Scrolling down the press release I came across this:

CARESCAPE Patient Data Module is the latest addition to GE Healthcares
CARESCAPE portfolio of innovative patient monitoring products. CARESCAPE
products feature parameter excellence, superior device integration and
control and clinical decision support capabilities combined with a
wireless infrastructure that supports the secure, uninterrupted
transmission of patient information. Unifying previously un-integrated
streams of patient data, the CARESCAPE portfolio offers a new approach
to patient monitoring by assimilating critical patient data and offering
easy access to clinical intelligence from wireless and stationary
devices. This enables clinicians to make critical healthcare decisions
faster, which may lead to improvements in patient care.

Hmmmm, I've never heard of a CARESCAPE portfolio, and a quick Google search found no mention of CARESCAPE prior to this press release on the Patient Data Module. In fact, there's not a single occurrence of the word "CARESCAPE" on GEHealthcare's website. The portfolio is apparently made up of GE's existing CIC central station, iPanel, enterprise networking (GE requires their own subnet), and the ability to view data on a variety of mobile devices. No mention of alarm notification - probably the most important mobile data application in patient monitoring. The end of the press release promises, "Additional information about the CARESCAPE portfolio and GE Healthcare’s
approach to patient monitoring can be viewed at" - good luck with that.

Now just about any product manager or market manager who's been in the medical device field for a few years can relate at least one product introduction horror story. Typically, product development schedules slide and run into revenue forecast expectations, resulting in some sort of product launch that becomes a "hail Mary" attempt to meet forecast. I'm not saying that's what happened here - I really don't know - but this is clearly not GE's best product launch. You can expect to see one or (probably) more "re-introductions" of CARESCAPE in the coming months.

There are no "re-dos" when it comes to product introductions. And re-introductions (individually or cumulatively) never provide the impact and results of launching a product right the first time. Pictured right is a TRAM module providing Masimo SpO2.

UPDATE: I have come accross this additional reference to CARESCAPE (below the photos of the Hospira GemStar pumps), in this May 2007 story on "flexible monitoirng" in Healthcare Purchasing News. Let me know if I've missed anything else...

UPDATE: Reader John Richards at UCSF provides the following information:

The name CareScape and the full EMR system described in the press release is a
marketing concept from Phinney/Bischoff Design House in Seattle to repackage the
GE EMR and monitoring systems. It is not new stuff so far. The Patient Data
Module seems to be an upgrade to the TRAM module. The claims in the press
release are the same claims in the GE Centricity Enterprise brochures. These are
huge systems that are being worked on at Intermountain Health and other
locations. Phinney/Bischoff is trying to present GE's healthcare systems as a
method to get all relevant clinical information to doctors and nurses, as
opposed to just a monitor box. GE is changing their advertising to go along
with the change in the monitoring/EMR world. I just wish that it wasn't
presented as a finished and available system.

Thanks John! I too have heard that this is a re branding effort and that, with the exception of the Patient Data Module, nothing is new. I've also heard that GE has some interesting new things in the hopper for patient monitoring. Maybe we'll hear something official at AAMI.