Friday, April 16, 2010

Medtronic Remote Monitoring Study: CONNECT

At the American College of Cardiology 59th annual conference George H. Crossley, MD presented evidence that cardiac patient from remote monitoring (one scheduled in-office visit per year with remote monitoring) verses standard in-office care (four in-office visits per year) cuts the time between the time a cardiac or device related event occurs and when a treatment decision is made.

The title of the study: "The clinical evaluation of the remote notification to reduce time to clinical decision (CONNECT) Trial: The value of remote monitoring."

I present a summary of the method and the results of the study gleaned from the slides presented by Dr. Crossley at the conference.


Tested hypothesis: Remote monitoring with automatic clinician notifications reduces the time from a cardiac or device event to a clinical decision.

Additionally investigated were rates utilization of the health care system including hospitalization and between treatment groups.


Study participants:  1997 newly implanted CRT-D and DR-ICD patients from 136 US centers were randomly assigned to one of two groups. The first group had 1014 patients assigned to the remotely monitored group and the second had 983 patients assigned to the standard in-office care group. The patients were reasonably well matched for age and gender characteristics.  (A procedure similar to the Biotronik TRUST studies.)

The patients were followed for 12 months.  (On first reading, I found the the time relatively short in that I would not expect enough differentiating events would occur during that time.  However, on further reading, I believe my first impression was incorrect.)


Time from Event to Clinical Decision

The median time (used nonparametric inferential statistics for the analysis) from the cardiac or device event to clinical decision was 4.6 days in the remote group and 22 days in the in office group. This difference was significant.  The remote group involved 172 patient while the in-office group involved 145 patients.

The cardiac/device events included:
  • Atrial Tachycardia/Fibrillation (AT/AF) for 12 hours or more
  • Fast Ventricular rate. Of at least 120 beats per minute during at least a 6 hour AT/AFT event
  • At least two shocks delivered in an episode
  • Lead impedance out of range
  • All therapies in a specific zone were exhausted for an episode
  • Ventricular Fibrillation detection/therapy off
  • Low battery
Total number of events Remote group: 575 and In-office group: 391.  The slides show the breakdowns.

Office Visits

The number of office visits per patient reported are shown below.
                        Scheduled     Unscheduled      All office
Remote group:     1.68              2.24              3.92
In-office group:    4.33              1.94              6.27

The TRUST studies showed a slight increase of more unscheduled visits for the remote group. However, given the nature of the study and that remotely monitored patients would receive only one in-office visit per year, it's remarkable how similar the numbers between the two groups are.

Utilization of the Health Care System

Number of incidents where patients used the health care system show virtually no difference, hospitalization or emergency room. 

However, a remarkable difference was the significant difference in length of stay when there was a hospitalization. The remote group had a mean hospital stay of 3.3 days while the in-office group was 4.0 days with an estimated savings per hospitalization of $1659.


The CONNECT and (Biotronik) TRUST studies show clear benefits from a number of standpoints for remote monitoring.  In addition, the CONNECT study showed clear cost and hospital resource utilization benefits from remote monitoring in that hospitalized patients had shorter stays indicating that they were in better shape than patients in the in-office group when admitted to the hospital.  Quick responses seem to lead to better outcomes as well as cost reductions.

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