The big news now is that we are ready to forward with our new Holter, the DR400 “Patch” Holter. If you are familiar with our older digital Holters, the DR180 and DR200, then you will know that those Holters have a removable battery and a removable flash card for transmission. On that flash card is a file called flash.dat that is sent to ALBA Medical for processing after the study is recorded.
The DR400 is a smaller unit. It is the size of a car remote fob. The DR200 is approximately the size of an old-school beeper. On the back of the DR400, there are 3 snaps which you attach 3 ECG electrodes to. The machine is held on to the left side of the animal using the adhesion of the three electrodes to keep it in place.
This small DR400 has an internal battery and internal, non-removable memory. The unit is provided with an USB charging dock which connects to a computer. It must be charged before every use. The charging process takes about 45 minutes. Once charged, you will use a PC program called “PC Patch” to erase the DR400s memory and to enter the patient ID. After these two things are done, the unit is disconnected from the USB dock and connected to the animal. There is only one button and one orange/green light on the device. A handy reference guide card is provided showing the different meanings of the blinking and steady orange and green lights. After the machine is connected to the animal, you would then start the recording by pressing the button on the unit.
With our DR180 and DR200 units, there was an EKG preview screen where the hook-up technician would see the EKG tracings prior to finalizing the recording startup. This screen was intentionally made to not be shown during the 24-hour period. These machines were originally designed for humans, and you do not want a human patient to see their EKG for 24 hours, because they can potentially get nervous and call the prescribing clinic all day and night long.
Because the DR400 has no LCD screen for viewing the hook-up quality, a different approach is taken. There is a USB Bluetooth dongle that is supplied to work with the DR400. This USB dongle must be installed and paired with the PC Patch program on the computer. Once this is set up properly, the EKG will automatically display on a pop-up window on the computer screen when then event button is pressed, and the patient is 30 feet or closer to the computer.
The intent of this Bluetooth transmitted hook-up EKG preview was also made for humans. Typically, a human would be connected to the DR400, the EKG would be quickly viewed for good quality and then the patient would be sent home. The big advantage for us in the Veterinary market, is that the animal is sometimes in our home or clinic for the entire 24 hours. Another good thing to know is that the EKG preview can be viewed as much as you want, even for the complete 24 hours continuously.
This is going to be used in two ways by our customers. Dog owners at home would use this feature to periodically check the hookup quality of their 24-hour period. Veterinarians who are housing their patients for the 24-hour period can use this machine as a real-time telemetry monitor. Both features are great benefits to the user.
Going forward, we will be discontinuing selling DR180 units. They will only be offered in situations where customers are extremely cost-conscious. The DR200s however will still be produced for many years to come, and ALBA will be co-selling both the DR200 and DR400 units as new going forward.
There are some customers who will benefit from the DR200 rather than the DR400. The DR200 is a ready-to-go machine. It can be taken out of the box and applied to a patient in minutes. There is no special installation and minimal training. For this reason, customers who are from a dog club, where the machine will be passed around from member to member will be recommended the DR200 for sale. Customers who have an aversion to technology will also be recommended the DR200. This product is only PC Compatible, so Mac users cannot use it.
The DR400 will only be recommended to customers buying their own machine, or maybe in situations when buying a machine with a very small number of partners. The installation process is as follows: Download the free PC Patch from our website. Install the USB dock. Pair the dongle with the PC Patch program inside of the program’s settings. This is not too big of a deal, but it can be considered an easy to medium level computer undertaking.
With understanding the advantages of the DR400 and understanding that there is an installation process involved, the next question would be as to which machine to choose.
My opinion, as someone in this field for almost 30 years is this:
I would say that the DR400 is “10 times” better than the DR200 for human use. If you have ever personally worn a Holter for 24-hours, you will understand what I am saying here. The DR200 has wires, and the machine is on your belt all day and you must go to work, and sleep with this machine, etc. For that reason, this patch Holter is awesome. I have worn it myself, and the human patient will literally forget that they are wearing it. So, the for human patient’s comfort is why I say that it is 10 times better.
For animal use, I would assess the DR400 as “slightly” better for the comfort of the animal patient. The weight difference between a 3-ounce machine and a 1-ounce machine is negligible for even a small animal. The animal still must wear a vest, and that adds the same shock factor to their day either way. Underneath the vest, the animal doesn’t care that there are less wires inside there. For these reasons, I feel that both the DR200 and the DR400 offers the same patient comfort for an animal. If there is any difference in the experience of wearing the two machines, then it would be negligible.
So, for that and other reasons, we are going to go forward and co-sell the DR200 and the DR400 equally to customers who are monitoring animals. They are both roughly the same cost and have the same exact recording specifications. You can’t go wrong with either of these machines.
Thanks for your attention to this document. John Ziemann, ALBA Medical