Covidien adds mobile bedside patient monitoring

By Jonah Comstock
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Vital Sync VPMPCovidien, a 19-year-old medical device company, announced the launch of a new web-based remote monitoring system for its patient monitoring system. Known as Vital Sync, the software offering will allow doctors to monitor bedside monitors like respirators from their PCs or mobile devices. Vital Sync will send data such as trend data, waveforms, audible alerts, color coded alarms, and settings changes to a web portal and directly to a hospital's electronic medical record.

"Covidien has been in the data generation business for a long time," Andrew Malcolmson, Director of Integrated Patient Intelligence at Covidien, told MobiHealthNews. "The amount and the clinical value of this realtime bedside info we create is ever increasing. What we realized is we needed to do a better job understanding who the other data consumers are. So late 2011 is when we thought 'How can we move this from the point of care to the point of need, making use of mobile devices?'"

As a web-based software solution, doctors will be able to access the system from any device, Malcolmson said, and an HL7 engine allows it to integrate with most EMRs as well. The limiting factor is which bedside monitors the system connects to -- currently only those made by Covidien. Malcolmson said it was important to doctors that they not have to carry around an additional device.

"We didn't want to be in the hardware sales business," he said. "One of the ideas we originally came up with was 'What if we made a dedicated hardware interface?' That was shot down very early, because people are going to use the devices they're going to use."

The software has FDA 510(k) clearance as a Class 2 medical device, and Malcolmson said it's HIPAA-compliant as well. The biggest potential for the technology, he said, was in fully virtualizing the bedside.

"We're collecting the entire information set that's available at the bedside," he said. "We literally can see fully resolved waveforms, fully resolved alarms. ... The legacy system was having someone have to explain what was on the screen over the phone. Now they can see the screen. Things don't get lost in interpretation."

Probably the highest profile competitor for Covidien in this space is San Antonio-based AirStrip Technologies. There are a few big differences between the two offerings, however. AirStrip runs natively on mobile devices, while Vital Sync runs as a web app on mobile devices. Also, while AirStrip integrates information from bedside monitors, lab imagery, and EMRs, VitalSync is focused solely on bedside monitors -- and solely for Covidien devices.

Asked whether the company would support competitors' monitors in the future, Malcolmson said "the intent is to make sure the Vital Sync system works with what our customers want it to work with over time."