A Medical Device Daily

A £220 million fund will be made available to encourage innovation within the NHS, Health Minister Lord Darzi said, during an event at the Science Museum in London yesterday to mark the launch of 'Innovation for a Healthier Future,' a series of initiatives to nurture and reward innovation within the NHS.

Building on the government's commitment to create an innovative health service, England's ten Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs) will each receive £2 million this year, and £5 million in each of the following four years to support frontline NHS staff in developing innovative ideas. The cash will be invested directly into a combination of projects on the ground and at regional level, speeding up the time it takes for innovative solutions to get from design bench to NHS bedside, the organization said. This will benefit patients directly and increase the quality of the care they receive, it added.

Many innovative ideas in the NHS risk not being developed due to a lack of funding. The fund has been made available to help bring these ideas about and empower the inspiration of the 1.3 million NHS staff and their colleagues in social care who make a difference each day to people's lives.

"This announcement is a huge step forward in implementing the recommendations set out last summer in my strategy on the future of the NHS," said Darzi "NHS staff have told me that accessing the funds to make ideas become reality can be a struggle and as a result, many great ideas never get realized. That is why I am delighted to announce that we now have a £220 million innovation fund available to get those ideas off the bench and to patient bedsides, day centers or GP surgeries."

St. Jude garners CE mark for Merlin.net PCN

St. Jude Medical (St. Paul, Minnesota) reported CE-mark approval of its Merlin.net Patient Care Network (PCN).

Merlin.net PCN is a secure, Internet-based remote care system that gathers and stores data from the implant procedure, a clinic follow-up visit or from remote follow-up transmissions of patients with implanted cardiac devices. The system includes a range of features designed to improve clinic efficiency and to enhance patient care by giving physicians better and more immediate access to information. With its open architecture and standards-based interface, Merlin.net PCN can be fully integrated with all standard electronic health record (EHR) systems in hospital or clinic settings.

Until recently, the only way for physicians to check on their patients' devices was for a patient to come to their clinic in person. Now, information from a patient's implanted device can be transmitted remotely from the comfort of a patient's home. St. Jude Medical patients with compatible devices can use the Merlin@home transmitter to send data directly from their devices to Merlin.net PCN. Physicians can even use Merlin.net PCN to schedule the remote follow-up to take place at night, while the patient is sleeping.

Remote monitoring provides daily checks on the patient's device. If the check reveals an event that may require timely intervention, an alert will be posted on Merlin.net PCN and transmitted to the physician via email, fax or SMS text. Merlin.net PCN offers a set of flexible tools that allow the physician to choose when, where and how alerts are communicated during off-clinic hours, including the transfer of alerts to after hours support services. Alert-triggering events are not restricted to device performance, but also include clinical episodes such as atrial tachycardia (AT), atrial fibrillation (AF), and ST segment change notifications for remote disease management.

"The success of Merlin.net PCN in the United States has been built through a combination of tools that offer physicians more control over their patients' device monitoring and features that help their clinics run more efficiently," said Eric Fain, MD, president of the St. Jude Medical Cardiac Rhythm Management Division. "We are delighted to now offer these benefits to our customers and to patients in Europe."

Merlin.net PCN will be launched in Europe this spring.

Cepheid reports release of tuberculosis test

Cepheid (Sunnyvale, California) reported the release of Xpert MTB/RIF as a CE IVD Mark product under the European Directive on In Vitro Diagnostic Medical Devices.

For the first time, European clinicians will have access to a rapid test that can simultaneously identify Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) and resistance to rifampicin (RIF), a common first-line drug for treatment of the disease and a reliable surrogate marker of strains that are multidrug-resistant (MDR-TB).

Xpert MTB/RIF is expected to enable clinicians to dramatically improve patient outcomes – a situation possible only through on-demand, actionable test results that can help guide therapy decisions during an initial patient visit. The new test is designed to leverage the power of Cepheid's GeneXpert System to deliver a highly accurate diagnosis of the disease in less than two hours.

According to the World Health Organization, about two billion people are currently infected with MTB. An estimated nine million people develop active TB each year, and two million people lose their lives to the illness. This equates to one life every 20 seconds.

"With the documented re-emergence of TB and the development of drug-resistant strains, the need for accurate and rapid detection of tuberculosis is becoming increasingly acute," said John Bishop, Cepheid's CEO. "The GeneXpert system has a unique level of technical capability never before seen in molecular diagnostics – and this capability is on full display with this test. Clinicians will now be able to obtain dependable test results in virtually any clinical setting not only for detection of TB, but simultaneous determination of whether or not it is a drug resistant strain. Xpert MTB/RIF should be a breakthrough technological leap forward in helping to ensure appropriate therapeutic management and in helping to halt transmission of this disease."

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