IoT Network Puts Defibrillator Management in Hands of Suppliers

With CardiLink's Medtech AED device-monitoring system, using Asavie IoT Connect, makers and suppliers of life-saving equipment can help customers manage the location and condition of each item automatically.
Published: November 26, 2018

Medical device-monitoring technology startup CardiLink is selling a new solution to medical device manufacturers that enables the companies to sell a value-added service that tracks the location and status of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) as they are deployed in public places and throughout corporate campuses. The solution employs Asavie‘s IoT Connect wireless connectivity technology to identify where devices are located, and to thereby understand whether or not AEDs are where they should be and are in good working order.

CardiLink’s cloud-based software platform captures, stores and analyzes data regarding each AED. The technology can then be used to alert service personnel, provide schedules for maintenance or inspection, and inform security if an AED leaves the area. To date, a single global AED manufacturer, Cardia International A/S, in Denmark, is preparing to offer the service to its customers.

CardiLink was founded to enable connected medical devices, says Lars Wassermann, the company’s CEO. The firm began offering its solution in May of this year, he says, initially targeting AED devices because of the need for greater control of these potential life-saving tools. Wassermann has a background in engineering and says he founded the company based on research he conducted with a local professor regarding gaps in medical device markets. Regulations in many parts of the world require that companies provide a history of their AED maintenance.

AEDs are electronic devices that can treat sudden cardiac arrest via the application of electricity to a patient’s chest. They are typically mounted in many buildings and public spaces, for use in the event of a cardiac emergency. Most are never used, or rarely so, but when they are needed, an individual’s life depends on them functioning properly. “It all comes down to maintenance,” Wassermann says.

According to a 2011 report from the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, more than 1,000 deaths from cardiac arrest were connected to the failed functionality of an AED—and about a quarter of those failures involved a dead battery. Problems involving pads and connectors accounted for another quarter. Those responsible for ensuring the devices are in good working order physically check them on an annual basis, Wassermann says; they should also conduct visual checks daily or weekly, according to manufacturer requirements. However, there is little digital trail indicating whether any particular device requires maintenance, or if a battery has died.

Manufacturers or supplies of AEDs have little role in the management of these devices. “Historically,” Wassermann says, “once there’s a sale to a hospital or campus, that’s the end of the engagement” for the manufacturer. CardiLink’s service is intended to address this problem, he explains.

The solution consists of a sensor with a SIM card that runs on the Asavie private network for cellular-based IoT connectivity. The sensor device can be built into the AED at the point of manufacture. Its built-in GPS unit provides the device’s location as it is mounted in a public place or at a facility. The sensor can detect whether movement has occurred, and geofencing functionality allows users to set up parameters regarding how far that device can move. If it crosses outside the threshold, an alert can be transmitted to the manufacturer, as well as to the company that deployed the AED.

Because the device continues to measure its GPS location and transmit its status, its location can be detected, even if the AED is stolen. The sensor device can detect whether the AED has been opened, which would indicate that it is being used, and that information can be forwarded to the designated party via the Asavie network. The system can also issue an alert when an AED needs to be serviced, based on the date of the last service, or on use.

CardiLink provides an application programming interface (API) for manufacturers, which can then build the technology into their own branded applications to manage and display the data. To use the system, a manufacturer or supplier first scans in the unique ID number of a particular CardiLink device, then links it to the serial number of the specific AED, which is deployed by the company’s customer. The sensor identifies any movement or the opening of the device, as well as its battery level. It beacons an alert via a cellular connection to the CardiLink server, using the private Asavie network, according to Hugh Carroll, Asavie’s VP of marketing.

Lars Wassermann

With the CardiLink service, users can access the cloud-based server and view a list of their AEDs, as well as their service status and history. The system displays those items that require servicing immediately, or in the near future, highlighted in either orange or red. Users can also view the locations of those AEDs as icons on a map of their deployment area. The CardiLink unit comes with a battery with a two-year lifespan. However, that lifespan can be adjusted based on the service cycle, or on the timed frequency of transmissions.

In the long run, CardiLink hopes its solution will lead to more AED deployments in public areas. Traditionally, Wassermann says, some companies or organizations have been reluctant to put many AEDs in public places, simply because they are vulnerable to theft or damage—and ensuring they are properly maintained poses a challenge. With the CardiLink and Asavie service, he says, both problems could be alleviated. “The challenge has been in creating the awareness around the need for AEDs” in public places, he adds.

Hugh Carroll

For wireless IoT connectivity, Carroll reports, manufacturers have shown a preference for solutions using cellular networks. “Trust is at the heart of the solution,” he says, and they want to be sure that transmission will always be possible. Wi-Fi or other low-power technologies could potentially go down, creating transmission gaps or bandwidth constraints. “There are always issues around connecting to a corporation’s Wi-Fi—and in this case, human lives are at stake.”

Asavie’s technology operates on private networks for each customer, based on relationships with local cellular service operators. While the technology allows manufacturers and distributors to offer value-added services, Wassermann says, the ultimate goal is to ensure lives can be saved. “Our priority is patient safety,” he states.