Monday, October 5, 2009

Medtronic Patent 7,565,197: Migrating Instructions Among Implants (Updated 6 Apr 2015)

An intriguing but not fully explained claim in this patent is claim number 29.  It is a double-dependent claim in that it depends on two previous claims (claims 1 and 25); nevertheless, it describes a means for migrating instructions or data from one implanted device to another.  Here's the claim ...

The method of claim 25 wherein the remote medical device is an implantable medical device and
transmitting the remote programming instructions comprises transmitting the data to a remote external medical device capable of communicating with the implantable medical device and further transmitting the remote programming instructions from the external medical device to the implantable medical device, the remote external medical device receiving the updated state token value whenever the implantable medical device and the external medical device are in communication.

Here's how I read the meaning of this claim.
  • There are by implication two external medical devices. One is implanted ... and there could be multiple implanted devices ... and the other is external to the central data system. This could be the patient's bedside wireless communication device, it could be a laptop computer, an iPhone, etc. Conceivably, it could be an Apple Watch. The central data system is in communication with the external device and the external device is in communication with the implanted device. See for more details on the means for communications. What is described is a mediated connection with the implanted medical device.
  • A patient could have two or more implanted devices both of whom are in communication with a single external device.
  • The implanted devices operate more or less independently from each other, however, they could be working as part of a therapeutic system to address a single problem or a particular class of problems, e. g., cardiac or neurological.
  • For those not familiar with implanted medical devices, they have both sensing and stimulation capabilities.  The stimulation is most effectively delivered when the conditions are right ... as sensed by the sensors and computed by implant's internal processor.
  • If implanted devices are working semi-autonomously, there may be a need for one implanted device to send its data to another device to which it is logically connected.  
  • If two or more implanted devices are going to work as a system, they must have the capability to transmit data to each other and/or have the capability to transmit to an external device that will in turn relay the information to the other devices or would act as a central manager, take the data produced by the implanted device, perform it's own calculations and then send instructions to all the implanted devices.
  • I believe this claim describes fundamentally both methods for managing two or more implanted devices working to deliver systematic and multi-faceted therapy to address a single medical problem.
I am most familiar with cardiac devices and I cannot think of a reason to have more than one device implanted to manage any heart problem.  The heart is nicely contained and localized.  However, the nervous system is well distributed and it would be reasonable to consider having multiple devices collaborating to deliver a particular therapy or set of therapies. 

I certainly can see a cardiac patient requiring an insulin infusion pump. I suspect that there are many people living today who have both implanted devices. 

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