Medtronic gets FDA clearance for pain management implant that interfaces with Samsung tablet

By Jonah Comstock

Medtronic has received FDA clearance for a new implantable pain management device that can be programmed wirelessly via a Samsung tablet.

The Intellis system is designed to treat chronic pain by delivering neurostimulation at the spinal cord. Using a Samsung Galaxy Tab S2, the patient's caregiver can adjust the neurostimulation according to a workflow designed by Medtronic called Evolve.

"Drawing upon our 40-year legacy in [spinal cord stimulation], the launch of the Intellis platform isn't just about a new device, but about combining cutting edge hardware with optimal therapy through the Evolve workflow to enable personalized, long-term pain relief," said Dr. Marshall Stanton, senior vice president and president of Medtronic's Pain Therapies division, said in a statement. "Medtronic is committed to addressing patient needs, so the Intellis platform was designed based on what is most important to patients and physicians. We considered the entire patient journey — starting with the primary goal of optimal pain relief and access to important diagnostic tools, like MRI, to ease of use with simplified programming, faster recharge, and a smaller implant."

In addition to delivering neurostimulation, the implant also monitors the user's activity, which can help doctors determine the best course of treatment. 

"Chronic pain is challenging to manage," Dr. Lance Roy, a pain management specialist at Duke University Medical Center, where one of the first devices was implanted, said in a statement. "Having real-time data can provide more information about patients' quality of life changes. This platform represents a welcome new option for managing some kinds of chronic pain. New non-opioid treatment options are important given the national crisis related to opioid abuse."

There are a number of spinal cord stimulation devices on the market. Intellis sets itself apart by being smaller than most, having a longer battery life, and being programmable and updateable via the Samsung tablet.

"We are excited to partner with Medtronic in their aim to simplify programming, and streamline therapy management with the Intellis platform," Samsung Chief Medical Officer Dr. Dave Rhew said in a statement. "Samsung's Galaxy tablets — secured by the HIPAA-ready Samsung Knox mobile security platform — will support future Medtronic therapies and over the air (OTA) software upgrades to ensure clinicians using Intellis have access to the most up-to-date solutions."