Devices & Diagnostics, Health IT

In deal with Qualcomm Life, Hill-Rom connects vest to IoT to help track cystic fibrosis patient data

The vest gathers patients’ airway clearance therapy session information, such as how many minutes the session lasted, duration of cough pauses, frequency settings and transmits it to the portal where physicians can see the data.

Hill Rom CF vestMedCity News has partnered with BioCrossroads to provide coverage focused on Indiana’s next generation of growth and innovation in life sciences.

Hill-Rom in its first collaboration deal with Qualcomm Life and its 2Net Hub added connectivity to its VisiVest System to help cystic fibrosis patients breathe easier. It’s part of the broader trend to connect medical devices to the Internet of Things in order to aggregate and contextualize patient data. The vest inflates and deflates to dislodge mucus from bronchial walls and moves it to airways where it can be cleared through coughing or suction.

In response to emailed questions, Andy Reding, vice president and general manager of Hill-Rom Respiratory Care, said that although the VisiVest System transmits data about Vest usage, it does not make care decision recommendations.

VisiVest System and VisiView Health Portal are currently available but the company isn’t sharing who the early adopters are. Reding did say that it is working with clinics so they feel prepared and comfortable adding this tool to their workflow and discussions with patients.

What is especially useful about this technology for cystic fibrosis patients?

Management of CF is increasing in complexity, making adherence to therapy more challenging. Non-adherence is a predictor of declining lung function, so it’s important to help patients stick with their therapy. The VisiVestTM System gathers patients’ airway clearance therapy session information (how many minutes the session lasted, duration of cough pauses, frequency settings, etc.) sending it to the VisiViewTM Health Portal where the patient, caregiver and health care teams can all see it. By providing accurate, historical data and removing the burden of relying on patients’ memory, the health care team and patient can work better together to make care decisions. The Portal uses ‘badges’ that show how well a patient is adhering to their therapy, helping him or her to stay motivated – it’s like a fitness tracker for lungs.

Will doctors be able to use their data to detect signs of infections that their condition makes them especially susceptible to?

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The VisiVest System tracks airway clearance therapy session information related to the patients’ use of the Vest, sending data about the therapy sessions so that the healthcare team and patient can collaborate in making tailored care decisions.

Is it intended to reduce the number of in-person checkups CF patients need?

The VisiVest System is designed to enhance the in-person checkups between CF patients and their health care teams. The goal is that with this information to look at, the conversation between patients and their teams will be honest and more productive.

In addition to CF, what other respiratory conditions will it be used for?

As a new product, we are starting with the CF community because it is such a complex disease and will benefit from such technology, but we see future opportunities with bronchiectasis and neuromuscular patients as well.

What does it cost? 

The VisiVest System is a prescription device and its cost to patients will depend upon government or private health insurance coverage. The Bluetooth technology is incorporated into the VisiVest System technology and represents no additional cost to patients.