Amid health care's current "fever" for remote medical-monitoring, a local firm is rolling out its own FDA-approved device — BodyGuardian Remote Monitoring System — with the first orders soon to be shipped.
Developed by Preventice Inc. in Rochester and based on research licensed from Mayo Clinic, the BodyGuardian Remote Monitoring System hopes to be ahead of competitors vying for position in the rapidly growing segment.
The remote monitoring industry is estimated to possibly reach a worldwide value of $19 to $21 billion by 2016. Experts anticipate almost 5 million patients will be using some type of wireless monitoring by then.
"At this point, it seems we have a differential advantage," says Michael Emerson, Preventice's senior vice president of marketing.
BodyGuardian collects data via two small monitors worn on a patient's skin as they go about their daily life. The sensors are paired with a dedicated cellphone that allows doctors to check on a patient's heart rate at any time through a secure website on their computers at a medical center or anywhere via an iPad tablet.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved BodyGuardian to be prescribed to track nonlethal arrhythmia or irregular heartbeats last year. However, it can monitor a wide variety of measurements and Preventice is undergoing other clinical trials in an effort to gain FDA approvals to track additional types of health data.
Preventice sales people are building "strategic relationships" to make the remote monitoring system available to hospitals and clinics for their doctors to prescribe for patients.
The Affordable Health Act has health providers looking for ways to better monitor patients and avoid re-admitting them, and the monitors seem to provide one such way..
Describing the current interest in this kind of device as "a fever," Preventice president and CEO Jon Otterstatter says, "This is an opportunity that health care providers don't want to wait to be a follower on."
In addition to the re-admission issues, the health care industry is also feeling a time and money pinch these days.
"Physicians can't work any more hours in the day and they are very much looking for things that improve outcomes in a favorable manner and reduce costs," he says.
The association with Mayo Clinic also boosts the firm's prospects.
Mayo Clinic licensed technology for the BodyGuardian to Preventice. Through the licensing agreement, Mayo Clinic has equity ownership in Preventice. Both Mayo and the inventors will receive royalties from BodyGuardian.
Preventice officials say the company's relationship with Mayo Clinic is ongoing and is expected to deepen as the product continues to evolve.
Beside running clinical trials to validate additional types of testing, the company is working on improving BodyGuardian's statistical software tools as well as adding new ones.
Cardiac data is typically collected in a clinical setting over the course of a few weeks at most. BodyGuardian opens the door to collecting that data 24 hours a day for months or years.
"The good news is that doctors will have a terabyte of data after a year and the bad news is that doctors will a terabyte of data after a year," quips Emerson.
Addressing that is now a big focus at Preventice's development site in Rochester, which previously focused on patient use.
"Now the focus is on the part of the device that resides inside the hospital walls," he says. "It's such a rich source of information… We want to add more intelligence to the device to be more efficient with the doctor's time."
Tracking Preventice's growth since it evolved out of Rochester's Boost Information Systems about six years ago shows a company that's steadily picking up speed.
In 2007, it had four employees. Now has more than 70 people on staff in Rochester, Minneapolis and Fargo, N.D. More than 40 percent of those employees work here in its offices along West Circle Drive.