St. Jude's CardioMEMS could help hospitals avoid Affordable Care Act readmission penalties

An illustration of the CardioMEMS HF System's wireless monitoring sensor implanted in the pulmonary artery--Courtesy of St. Jude Medical

As hospitals scramble to reduce readmissions, or face punishment under the Affordable Care Act's Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, they are increasingly turning to efficiency-promoting devices like St. Jude Medical's ($STJ) CardioMEMS HF System for monitoring heart failure patients.

And St. Jude says that among Medicare-eligible patients aged 65 or over, there was a 58% reduction in all-cause hospital readmissions and 78% reduction in readmissions due to heart failure. The readmission reduction statistics were derived from its Champion clinical trial of heart failure patients who had been hospitalized for heart failure in the past 12 months.

CardioMEMS is an implantable sensor that can measure pulmonary pressure in heart failure patients and wirelessly stream data to physicians, ideally slashing the rates of costly hospital readmissions. It is the first implantable heart failure diagnostic system in the U.S., and analysts have pegged the global market for such technology at about $2 billion

"Incorporating proactive pulmonary artery pressure monitoring into patient management significantly reduced heart failure hospitalizations and 30-day all-cause and HF readmissions in patients age 65 and older. The adoption of this treatment strategy using the CardioMEMS HF System addresses the unmet need within the U.S. health care system for hospitals struggling to meet the requirements of CMS," said Dr. Philip Adamson, Director of the Heart Failure Institute, at Oklahoma Heart Hospital, in a statement.

St. Jude says hospitals with excess all-cause 30-day readmissions for heart failure, heart attack and pneumonia discharges were penalized $227 million by CMS in fiscal year 2014.

The FDA approved CardioMEMS in May despite a mixed vote from the Circulatory System Devices Panel in October 2013, citing the device's low risk. St. Jude Medical then exercised its exclusive option to purchase CardioMEMS. The company acquired 19% of CardioMEMS in September 2010 for $60 million and paid $375 million for the remainder of the company.

- read the release

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