LifeWatch posts up against CardioNet with Verizon deal

By Brian Dolan
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LifeWatchRemote cardiac monitoring company LifeWatch has inked an exclusive carrier agreement with Verizon Wireless for its mobile phone-based service for cardiac patients. LifeWatch's LifeStar Ambulatory Cardiac Telemetry (ACT) service is a direct competitor to CardioNet's MCOT service, but unlike CardioNet, the company uses the patient's mobile phone to transmit the monitoring data. CardioNet uses a dedicated "pager-sized" device to collect and transmit its data.

LifeWatch has served some 60,000 patients with its ACT solution since its launch in the beginning of 2007, while CardioNet has  served close to 250,000 patients to date. CardioNet also has deals in place with payers that cover about 200 million lives.

"New avenues of development for both [Verizon Wireless and LifeWatch] will open as LifeWatch expands our innovation pipeline to remotely monitor patients for additional disease states and wellness conditions from virtually any location," said Dr. Yacov Geva, Chairman and CEO of LifeWatch's parent company Card Guard.

In May, CardioNet announced its new avenue for development: Monitoring patients for sleep apnea.

CardioNet, which had its initial public offering last year, also has pioneered the reimbursement effort for wireless health services after it attained a CPT code from CMS early in 2009. The reimbursement rate was the subject of heated rumors that CMS might reduce it by $200 in the near future, but so far the rate has remained at $1,123.07. 

At the recent CTIA Wireless event in Las Vegas, the West Wireless Health Institute's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Eric Topol pointed to heart failure as a top target for wireless remote monitoring since it affects some 5 million Americans.

Besides CardioNet and LifeWatch, companies like Intelli-Heart and eCardio are looking to compete with their own cardiac remote monitoring services, some of which do not include a wireless component. 

CardioNet has relied on its multiple studies to prove its solution's efficacy over its competitors or legacy products as well as its CPT code to attract physicians and hospitals to buy its services.

Who do you think will come out on top in cardiac remote monitoring?

It may go without saying, but here's hoping it's the patients.

For more on the LifeWatch deal with Verizon Wireless, check out the company's press release here.