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S.A. company to offer app on patients' heart activity
April 5, 2011

By Patrick Danner,
San Antonio Express-News

PHOTO: Dr. Cameron Powell, AirStrip Technologies' president and chief medical officer (right) and Trey Moore, chief technology officer, hold iPads displaying their latest app called AirStrip Cardiology. Photo: Kin Man Hui

AirStrip Technologies Inc. has teamed up with a General Electric Co. unit to roll out the San Antonio company's latest software application, which enables doctors to remotely monitor patients' heart data using an iPhone or iPad.

GE Healthcare's marketing muscle and sales and distribution channels will help AirStrip penetrate hospital systems around the world with the technology, according to Dr. Cameron Powell, AirStrip's president and chief medical officer.

"It's huge for us," Powell said of the collaboration with GE Healthcare. "For us as a company to reach the level of penetration in the U.S. market and ... the global market that we want, we have to have a big, powerful, dominant company like GE to help get us there."

AirStrip Cardiology, as the app is known, allows physicians to track the heart's electrical activity as the upward spikes and dips in line tracings known as waveforms. That information then goes through the GE Healthcare Muse Cardiology Information System, a central cardiac repository, and then to the physician's iPhone or iPad.

AirStrip eventually expects to make software available for Android devices and possibly other operating systems.

Powell declined to release financial terms of the partnership.

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles already is using the software, Powell said. He expects that San Antonio hospitals will soon adopt the technology, too.

Eddie Cuellar, chief information officer of San Antonio's Methodist Healthcare System, called the app "impressive."

"It's a toolset that clearly facilitates faster, prompter patient care," Cuellar said. "It has the ability to reduce the costs of delivering care.

"To me, it's a great example of us moving forward with technology that has clinical, meaningful value to the clinicians and the patients," he added. "This is where we are going, no matter what." He didn't have a timetable for when Methodist might start using the technology.

AirStrip Cardiology marks the company's second medical-software application to reach the market. AirStrip OB, which lets obstetricians use a handheld device to track a patient's maternal contractions and fetal heart rates, has been on the market for about five years.

A third application, AirStrip Patient Monitoring, is expected to debut in the second half of this year. It lets doctors remotely monitor patients' vital signs. All three applications were built on the same software-development platform.

In 2006, when AirStrip introduced the AirStrip OB app, it was a fledgling company that didn't have the backing of a conglomerate such as GE to market the app to hospital systems.

Through AirStrip's own efforts, the app now is used by about 400 hospitals and 5,000 doctors. "It's probably met our expectations. With the economy, it's tough out there," Powell said."

GE Healthcare will handle sales of AirStrip Cardiology app to hospitals. Powell has high expectations for the app, noting that treating heart disorders is a lucrative specialty for hospitals.

The app fits with the efforts of hospitals and doctors to become more tightly aligned in improving patient outcome while lowering costs, Powell said. He wouldn't disclose the cost of the app. But the annual subscription is based in part on the number of patients that come through a hospital system each year, he said.

AirStrip Cardiology is a marked improvement over current methods of tracking electrocardiograph (EKG) data, Powell said.

AirStrip Cardiology allows a clinician to view 10 seconds of activity and zoom in on a particular waveform. In addition, doctors can compare the activity with previous EKG data to spot any differences.

"There are so many patients coming into the system (while at the same time there is a) drop in the number of doctors and nurses to take care of them," Powell said. "Getting the right data about the right patient to the right person much faster just helps overall. If you can improve outcomes, then hospitals can be reimbursed more money."

 

 

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