The Cleveland Clinic is the first medical center in the country to use a new pacemaker system leveraging Bluetooth wireless technology that can communicate directly with a patent’s smartphone, which then transmits important heart data to their provider.

Khaldoun Tarakji, MD, the director of the Cleveland Clinic’s electrophysiology outpatient department and cardiac remote monitoring, says the system eliminates the need for other remote monitoring hardware such as bedside monitors in a patient’s home. According to Tarakji, all that is required is a Wi-Fi connection to a patient smartphone app.

“Now, you can bypass anything at home as long as you have a smartphone that’s compatible—the pacemaker communicates with the smartphone through a Bluetooth signal,” he says, noting that the system currently works with Apple iOS devices. “The data from the pacemaker does not get stored in the smartphone. The phone only acts as a vehicle to transmit the data.”

The Cleveland Clinic
The Cleveland Clinic

The BlueSync system from Medtronic includes data encryption and pacemaker protection, notes Tarakji, who adds that smartphone transfers the information to clinicians through pre-scheduled automatic transmissions and manual transmission by patients.

“This represents a paradigm shift in the way we perform remote monitoring of patients with pacemakers,” contends Tarakji. “For the first time, patients can have some visibility to their device and the process of remote monitoring.”

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In addition to important cardiovascular data, the system provides alerts and updates to physicians on the functioning of the pacemaker—such as battery longevity—so that they can intervene to ensure optimal performance.

Tarakji, who is also the director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Digital Health Technologies at its Heart and Vascular Institute, is leading a multi-center international study of the pacemaker system. “Just like any new product, our goal of the study is to assess the technology and more importantly gather feedback from patients.”

In particular, he says the primary objective of the study is to determine whether the system will lead to better compliance rates.

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