St. Jude Medical, Inc. (St. Jude Medical), has launched its Patient Care Network (PCN) in Europe. PCN is a secure, Internet-based remote care system for patients with implanted medical devices. PCN gathers and stores data from the implant procedure, in-clinic follow-up visits and from remote transmissions sent from a patient’s home. Remote transmissions can include both patient-initiated and automatic follow-ups and monitoring transmissions sent via a Merlin@home remote transmitter. In addition to giving physicians more timely access to important patient and device data, the wireless monitoring system also allows physicians to compile a more complete patient record by easily transferring cardiac device data into electronic health record (EHR) systems.

The newest version of PCN, version 4.0, supports all radio-frequency (RF) St. Jude Medical implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs), non-RF Epic ICDs, Atlas ICDs, Current ICDs and Promote CRT-D devices, and also supports the Accent RF pacemaker and Anthem RF CRT-P (cardiac resynchronization therapy pacemaker). The Accent RF and Anthem RF product families use radio frequency (RF) telemetry that enables secure, wireless communication between the implanted device and the device programmer or Merlin@home transmitter. The remote monitoring capabilities of these devices, facilitated by the PCN, permit automated hands-free follow-up, and daily device safety checks with no patient interaction required.

“Remote monitoring of ICDs has been an important development in the management of patients. Systems like the PCN allow us to monitor patients’ cardiac conditions more closely, and our patients and our staff find remote monitoring convenient and time-saving,” said Dr. Chris Plummer, consultant cardiologist at Freeman Hospital, Newcastle, UK. “Being able to wirelessly download data from a St. Jude Medical Accent RF pacemaker confirms the optimal performance of both the pacemaker and the PCN. We look forward to extending the advantages of remote monitoring to more of our pacemaker patients.”

The latest version of the PCN also features the DirectTrend Viewer reporting capability, which can be used to enhance visibility into patient trends to simplify patient management and enhance clinical insight. The DirectTrend Viewer reporting feature allows physicians to track data over time related to clinical events, alerts, and recent transmissions.

“Our focus with this next-generation system continues to be on giving physicians timely, actionable data, and improving disease management,” said Eric S. Fain, M.D., president of the St. Jude Medical Cardiac Rhythm Management Division. “Adding the DirectTrend Viewer Reporting feature helps improve the speed at which physicians receive and can interpret information, so they can effectively manage their patients’ conditions.”

To better assist physicians in accurately diagnosing and managing patients with fast rates in the heart’s upper chambers (atria), the DirectAlerts Notification feature on the PCN works with the Accent RF and Anthem RF devices, and Promote Accel, Current Accel and AnalyST Accel devices to include a new AT/AF Alert feature. This feature is designed to notify physicians when a rapid atrial rate, atrial tachycardia or atrial fibrillation (AT/AF), exceeds a programmed value or occurs over an extended time period. The devices also can be programmed to notify the patient of AT/AF episodes, as well as device- and lead-related issues, through a two-tone audible alert in low voltage devices, or a vibrating patient notifier in high voltage devices. These features will allow the physician to more proactively manage patients’ atrial arrhythmias, such as AF.

Version 4.0 of the PCN also enables remote monitoring of ST segment shifts, which are able to be detected by the AnalyST and AnalyST Accel ICD. The company’s ST Monitoring diagnostic algorithm continuously monitors for changes in a specific portion of the heart’s electrical rhythm, called the ST segment. These changes can indicate conditions such as ischemia (which occurs when blood flow/oxygen to the heart muscle is obstructed). The DirectAlerts feature of PCN allows physicians to request specific ST segment alerts be sent via e-mail, pager or SMS text, to notify them of changes in their patient’s condition.