St. Mary’s announces plans for a pilot project to explore remote monitoring options for pacemaker patients in Waterloo Wellington

GUELPH, Ontario - October 4, 2013 - In collaboration with the Cardiac Care Network of Ontario and the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network, St. Mary’s General Hospital is pleased to announce plans for a pilot project to explore the feasibility of large scale remote monitoring for pacemaker patients. If successful, St. Mary’s will be the first hospital in Ontario to broadly offer pacemaker patients remote monitoring as an option.

“St. Mary’s is proud of its cardiac excellence and we are always looking for new and innovative technologies that can improve patient care,” says Don Shilton, President at St. Mary’s. “After extensive research and discussions with industry and government partners, we recently determined that remote monitoring technology has evolved in Canada to the point where it can now be a safe, viable and highly beneficial option for many pacemaker patients in our community.”

“If this pilot is successful, our pacemaker patients will be the first in Ontario to benefit from this newly-available technology. We look forward to initiating the pilot early in 2014 so we can assess its potential for wide scale utilization across the Waterloo Wellington LHIN,” continued Mr. Shilton.

It is anticipated that the pilot project will allow many patients to visit a setting closer to home where the remote monitoring equipment will be located. Initially, only patients with Medtronic pacemakers will be eligible, but the goal is to extend this service to patients with pacemakers from other device manufacturers as the project progresses and the technology continues to evolve. In this pilot project, the patient will use a one touch universal Medtronic Carelink Express® monitor at the remote site to read their Medtronic pacemaker. Performance and diagnostic data from their pacemaker will be transmitted via the Medtronic CareLink® network to clinicians at St. Mary’s. If potential concerns are identified, the patient will be contacted for a follow up appointment at St. Mary’s.

While the long term goal is to offer this technology in several locations across the Waterloo Wellington LHIN, the first installation of the pilot project will be for patients in the Guelph area with the intention of engaging eligible patients whose pacemaker care was recently transferred to St. Mary’s. Evaluation criteria will measure and monitor the success of the first pilot site, and this data will help to formulate the feasibility of a broader roll out of CareLink Express, including more patients and remote monitoring systems from other pacemaker companies.

“We know that integrating health services can result in the highest quality of care for members of our community. Remote monitoring and programs like this also provide residents with care locally, helping them to be independent and participate in the life of our community,” says Hon. Liz Sandals, Minister of Education and MPP of Guelph. “This pilot demonstrates the region’s commitment to balancing the benefits of integrated services while exploring innovative health care options – resulting in high quality care and an approach that respects each individual.”

This initiative has the potential to offer many patient benefits, including fewer trips to hospital for pacemaker checkups, reduced time required for device follow-up, and increased patient satisfaction. There are also potential benefits to the health care system, such as increased efficiency in the St. Mary’s pacemaker clinic and stronger support for community partners/providers.

“Remote pacemaker monitoring is exactly the type of innovation we’re always exploring for residents in Waterloo Wellington, and is consistent with our approach to deliver the right care, in the right place, at the right time,” says Bruce Lauckner, Chief Executive Officer, Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network. “We’re pleased to see this planned portion of the integration of cardiac care one step closer to reality. This also reflects the direction from our Board, who stressed that all residents should receive the same standard of evidence-based care and that the pacemaker program design should consider remote service options. We’re excited that our residents can be the first in Ontario to benefit from this technology.”

While current remote monitoring technology won’t completely replace the need to visit the hospital, it has the potential to reduce the number of required visits. Timing, exact location(s), patient eligibility, and number of remote monitoring clinic(s) in the region will be determined during the planning process this Fall and will be based on Canadian Cardiovascular Society and Cardiac Care Network of Ontario guidelines. St. Mary’s is following remote monitoring guidelines based on the latest evidence and research from the Canadian Cardiovascular Society that recommends hospitals integrate remote monitoring capabilities into their routine functions. Eligibility to participate in the pilot will also be discussed with patients and their pacemaker practitioners.

“This program aligns with Cardiac Care Network of Ontario’s mandate to ensure patient access to quality cardiac services in a timely manner, and provides an opportunity to evaluate the feasibility and processes related to providing services remotely. Given the diverse geography of the province, the use of remote monitoring as a strategy to enhance standard device follow up care in Ontario provides options for patients, enabling their care closer to home.” - Kori Kingsbury, Chief Executive Officer, Cardiac Care Network of Ontario

“At St. Mary’s we strive to ensure that all patients in the region have access to the most advanced, convenient and best possible cardiac care. We hope to use this pilot project as a learning opportunity and make every effort to provide accessible and seamless care that enhances the overall patient experience.” - Dr. Claus Rinne, Cardiologist at St. Mary’s

“This is an exciting partnership with St. Mary’s to help bring innovative, leading edge technologies that have the potential to improve the overall pacemaker patient experience. With the use of a one touch universal Medtronic CareLink Express monitor, many pacemaker patients in the Waterloo Wellington region will be among the first in Ontario to pilot the use of this technology and its benefits for remote pacemaker care.” - Neil Fraser, President, Medtronic of Canada

St. Mary’s Regional Cardiac Care Centre

St. Mary’s General Hospital is home to the Regional Cardiac Care Centre. The centre serves a population base of 800,400 people including Waterloo Region, Wellington County, Perth County, Grey-Bruce, Huron, Brant, and Oxford Counties as well as Haldimand-Norfolk. A multidisciplinary team of experts provide advanced cardiac diagnostic and interventional care with compassion, respect, and a commitment to excellence.

St. Mary’s was recognized by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (2011/12) for achieving:

...Higher than provincial and national average for use of coronary angiography following acute heart attack, indicating patients receive rapid access to best practice care

...Lower than provincial and national average for 28-day readmission rate following acute heart attack

...Lower than provincial and national average for overall 30-day readmission rate

St. Mary’s Regional Cardiac Care Centre provides the following services:

...Advanced non-invasive cardiodiagnostics

...Advanced cardiac catheterization services


...Arrhythmia Clinic – advanced device insertion and follow up of pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs)

...Heart Function Clinic with advanced heart failure care

...Cardiac Surgery

...Cardiac Rehabilitation – “Hearts in Motion” – and alumni program

...Inpatient cardiology

In December of 2012, St. Mary’s began implanting cardioverter defibrillators. This is a key component in the development of a full heart rhythm program to meet all the needs of those living with cardiovascular disease in Waterloo Wellington.

St. Mary’s operates 2 cardiac catheterization suites, 2 cardiovascular operating rooms, an 8 bed cardiovascular intensive care unit, 19 bed cardiac surgical unit, 6 bed coronary care unit and a 23 bed inpatient cardiology unit.

Emergency cardiac catheterization services are available 24 hours, 7 days a week, to ensure that patients can be rapidly assessed and treated. Our protocol ensures that paramedics bring all patients, in the Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph and Cambridge areas with a suspected heart attack directly to the St. Mary’s catheterization lab for immediate assessment and treatment.

The cardiac care centre team includes:

...11 cardiologists, 3 cardiac surgeons and 6 cardiovascular anaesthetists

...8 acute care nurse practitioners

...Expert registered nurses, nutritionists, pharmacists, perfusionists, respiratory therapists and other health care professionals

In 2012/13 St. Mary’s provided:

...3,315 cardiac catheterizations

...923 coronary angioplasties

...764 cardiac surgeries

...284 pacemaker insertions

...18 implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) insertions