It began in 1981 with a muse, a big idea, and a broken heart. Having lost his father to a massive and unexpected heart attack the year prior, David Lederman resolved to develop the world’s first fully artificial heart—and so it was that Abiomed, a global organization specializing in the development of innovative healthcare technologies, came to be. Despite being founded with the goal of pioneering artificial organ transplantation, Abiomed reinforced its three decades of fearless exploration by transitioning from heart replacement to heart recovery. “Transplant is not a terribly durable option and may not be necessary for many people” explains Brett Prince, Global Marketing Director at Abiomed. The Impella heart pump, temporarily implanted in the left ventricle, takes over pumping for the heart, allowing the heart to rest until its strength is restored. The technology has enabled thousands of patients, “who otherwise may not have other treatment options, may have gone on to become recipients of complicated left ventricular assist devices (LVAD), or a heart transplant,” explains Prince, “to return home with their native hearts.” The device is now available in all hospitals treating Protected PCI and at most sites treating cardiogenic shock. Moreover, recent data demonstrates that with Impella, survival rates in patients with cardiogenic shock can be increased from 50 to about 75 percent.
In the last twelve years, Abiomed has reimagined the potential, and challenged the standards of connected healthcare, by shifting its focus entirely to optimizing and expanding the Impella product. Today, the Danvers, MA-based organization is a global leader in healthcare technology but remains more committed and connected than ever to its singular goal: “Improving the quality of life and the survival outlook for some of the sickest patients in the hospital,” says Prince. In an effort to expand capabilities of the Impella device, Abiomed began looking for cloud-based solutions to optimize their life-saving technology.
Expanding the boundaries of connected healthcare with cloud technology
The indications for which Impella devices are approved to treat—cardiogenic Shock and Protected PCI— “have some of the highest mortality rates in the hospital” says Prince. “About 50% of patients who go into cardiogenic shock end up dying,” he explains, “so we’re very focused on providing an earlier data solution to physicians.” In an effort to do just that, Abiomed dove deep into its processes and discovered inefficiencies that could mean the difference between life or death for critical patients. Abiomed has learned that while placing the pump as soon as possible is crucial to improving outcomes, care during the hours and days that follow in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) also determines if patients recover from cardiogenic shock.
“Even once they’re stabilized,” explains Prince, “many of these patients go back to the ICU while they recover, and they might stay there for days, sometimes weeks.” And with critical patients, “things can go downhill fast” says Prince. Patients in the ICU require an expansive network of support, close monitoring, and timely device adjustments. Today, with 400+ new Impella devices being implanted every week, Abiomed identified the need to launch a remote viewing system.
To reduce errors and enhance patient support, Abiomed launched Impella Connect, an Azure-based remote viewing solution designed to provide the potentially life-saving data faster. Though it’s still in its early stages, “Impella Connect allows Abiomed’s field team, CSC, and hospital physicians to literally see what’s happening on the interface of the Impella device” explains Prince. Moreover, with their new Azure-based remote viewing solution, “physicians can react quicker, potentially be more proactive, and our team certainly has more complete information when they are talking with customers.” With access to life-saving data delivered to a mobile application, physicians can engage and better direct the ICU staff, and ultimately save more lives.
Promoting the science of heart recovery with Azure
While the launch of Impella Connect is a “huge step forward in advancing our vision” explains Prince, it’s really just one more step in the organization-wide “bridge to recovery” initiative. As more hospitals integrate Impella’s remote viewing capabilities, the potential for machine learning and predictive care continues to expand. On a daily basis, the Abiomed team uses these tools to help its customers and their patients recover and return to their lives. “It is incredibly powerful to witness,” says Prince, who still gets an email every time a new device is implanted. As cloud technology continues to challenge the standards of connected healthcare, Abiomed is hopeful that Impella technology will gain approval to treat more conditions, recover more hearts, and ultimately, save more lives.