A Medical Device Daily

Vocantas (Ottawa, Ontario), developer of voice solutions for healthcare, has been selected by Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH; Boston) to help researchers assess the impact of automated telephone follow-up systems on the management of patients on commonly prescribed medications.

Using interactive voice response (IVR) and speech technology, the CallAssure system enables healthcare providers to evaluate real time patient data. Study researchers believe that this proactive outreach may facilitate communication between patients and their physicians between visits to address potentially serious issues.

Leading the project is researcher Jennifer Haas, MD, at BWH's Division of General Medicine. Dr. Haas has made major contributions in areas focused on the use of technology to improve the quality and safety of patient care, as well as access to care, particularly among the poor and uninsured.

Supporting HL7 standards, the CallAssure system automatically records any symptoms the patient is experiencing in a note which is then attached to the patient's electronic medical record.

Primary care patients at BWH who are prescribed any of 32 target medications for a range of chronic conditions, from allergies to high cholesterol, are enrolled in the study. Candidates receive a letter explaining how the study works, and may choose to opt out. More than 90% of patients have chosen to try the program at the time of this release.

Aarthi Iyer, with the Division of General Medicine at BWH, explains that there are a number of potential problems that exist with identifying side effects from prescribed medications.

Another key feature of CallAssure is that the survey is dynamic. Based on the medication and the patient's responses to questions, the survey script will trigger an email notification immediately to a physician for follow-up.

"Previously, information about symptoms and side effects was not collected in a standard and thorough manner," says Iyer. "Now, we are able to test a method that closes that follow-up loop and provides real-time reporting for review and analysis."

Vocantas is a developer of interactive voice response systems (IVRS) that use advanced computer telephony and speech technology to provide its customers with cost-effective customer outreach solutions.

In other agreements/contracts news:

• Cardima (Fremont, California) has engaged Peerless Medical (St. Louis) as the distributor for the Cardima Surgical Ablation System in the Midwest, including the St. Louis, Kansas City, Wichita, Topeka and Omaha markets.

Peerless, which enjoys strong relationships with leading cardiac surgeons in these territories, will market Cardima's Surgical Ablation System and solutions for cardiac patient care beginning immediately.

The Surgical Ablation System uses Cardima's technology for the ablation of cardiac tissue. The system incorporates a microcatheter-based surgical probe coupled with Cardima's Intellitemp, a radio frequency energy management device. The probe incorporates irrigation, suction and illumination, which aid in placement and lesion depth.

The Cardima Surgical Ablation System is able to create deep, long, linear and transmural cardiac lesions without gaps. The small, flexible design offers sole port-hole access, potentially decreasing procedure time, patient hospital stay and discomfort.

Cardima has developed the Pathfinder, Tracer and Revelation series of diagnostic catheters, the Vueport and Naviport Series of guiding catheters, the Intellitemp Energy Management Device and the Surgical Ablation System.

All of these Cardima devices have received CE mark approval and FDA 510(k) clearance. The Revelation series of ablation catheters with the Intellitemp EP Energy Management Device, developed for the treatment of atrial fibrillation, has received CE-mark approval and is marketed in Europe.

• Zotec Partners (Indianapolis), a company involved in medical billing, practice management and Radiology Information Systems software, said that Coast Radiology Imaging & Intervention (Mission Viejo, California) has renewed its billing services contract with the company for three years.

The physicians of Coast Radiology Imaging and Intervention offer patients Southern California's broadest range of subspecialties in radiology, providing the full complement of radiology services to Mission Hospital and Mission Imaging Center.

Coast Radiology Imaging also utilizes Zotec's Decision Support tool to drill down into information, including analyzing payers to see who is referring business to them and looking at practice trends, such as inpatient, outpatient and ER volumes.

Zotec Partners is a solutions-based firm serving the hospital-based specialty market. It offers a comprehensive suite of medical billing and practice management tools designed to make operations more efficient and productive in medical offices.

The company's flagship product, the Electronic Billing Center (EBC) practice management and billing software suite, serves 5,500 physicians in 45 states across the U.S.