SUNNYVALE, CA, April 19, 2001 - SanDisk Corporation (NASDAQ:SNDK) announced today the world's first commercial medical trials of its P-Tag (Personal Tag) flash memory card, the industry's first wearable storage device for the health care market. The three-month trials, slated to start this month in the Dallas area, are expected to enroll more than 5,000 patients-each of whom will have their complete medical records on the small, durable 8 megabyte (MB) P-Tags.
Officials at Matrevic Data Systems Inc., a Dallas-area company that has organized the project and provided the software needed for the venture, said they believe the trials will demonstrate how the P-Tags can save lives and deliver medical care more quickly, efficiently and inexpensively.
Jason Carr, Matrevic CEO and president, said, "Most of the patients are on Medicare and Medicaid. One of the purposes of this study is to have P-Tag costs covered by both programs, something that can be accomplished if we meet government guidelines showing that the P-Tags are necessary for diagnosis or treatment. We are confident that we can do that with these trials."
Ed Cuellar, director of marketing at SanDisk, said, "These SanDisk P-Tags will give tremendous comfort and convenience to patients because they will have their medical records with them at all times. As this technology gets more widely used, emergency medical technicians and paramedics will be able to quickly read the information on the P-Tags and possibly save lives by having critical information at their fingertips."
Information on the P-Tags will include drugs being currently taken, drug reaction histories, physical exam reports, allergies and allergic reactions, vaccinations, previous injury history, blood type and compressed images of X-rays, CAT scans and MRI's. Various levels of security can be built into the cards. A 8MB P-Tag can store, for example, two hours of recorded voice or 6,000 double-spaced pages of text.
Dr. Fred Maese, a cardiologist at the Ferris Heart Center in Dallas, said, "We are very excited to be a part of this case study, and I can see lots of benefits for my own specialty. The cardiology specialty is the largest specialty in the U.S. health care system, and I am looking forward to the day when all my patients are P-Tag carriers."
The Ferris Heart Center is participating in the trials along with the Dallas Heart Center, Doctor's Hospital and Medical Center and an outpatient clinic. More than 1,000 of the patient's in the trials belong to 34 different health maintenance organizations (HMOs). Carr said the HMOs will be closely monitoring the results of the study to determine if they should start equipping more of their patients with P-Tags.
He added that "P-Tags can play a role in reducing medical errors. According to a 1999 study by the U.S. Institute of Medicine, up to 98,000 people in the U.S. die annually from medical errors making medical errors the fifth leading cause of death in the country. Some 11 percent of medical tests, over $1 billion annually, are redundant because doctors cannot find initial test results or don't know if the tests were ordered."
Carr cited one of many possible scenarios where a patient would benefit from having a P-Tag. A pregnant woman is traveling on business and isn't feeling well. She goes to an urgent care clinic where her blood pressure is measured at 130/85 and a urine dipstick shows 1+ protein, a little above normal, but the physician isn't overly concerned and she is released. The doctor in not aware that her blood pressure is normally as low as 90/70, she has gestational diabetes and she in danger of pre-eclampia, a condition that can be fatal to the woman and child if it is not promptly treated.
"If the woman had a P-Tag with her medical information," explained Carr, "she would have been treated immediately. Patients don't always tell physicians everything about their medical condition during office visits."
The P-Tags weigh two grams and are the size of a postage stamp. Most patients will either wear them around their neck or keep them on a key chain. The 50 or so doctors participating in the study will be able to read the data on their desktop computers because each physician will have a P-Tag reader connected to their computer. The solid-state (no moving parts) P-Tags require no battery to retain data, and the P-Tags are expected to have a lifetime of more than 100 years.
Patient information also will be stored on the desktop computers to ensure that medical information will be retained if a P-Tag is lost. The devices have a shock rating of 2,000 G's, equivalent to a nine-foot drop to a concrete floor. 8MB P-Tags are priced at approximately $100 to the physicians or hospitals, and this includes the cost of the reader/writer units, software and services for online storage.
SanDisk Corporation, the world's largest supplier of flash data storage products, designs, manufactures and markets industry-standard, solid-state data, digital imaging and audio storage products using its patented, high density flash memory and controller technology. SanDisk is based in Sunnyvale, CA.
Matrevic Data Systems, Inc., a leading IT services, software development and integration firm, focuses on healthcare, retail and manufacturing industries and is known for providing unique solutions and services nationwide. MSDI is based in Lancaster, TX. The matters discussed in this news release contain forward looking statements that are subject to certain risks and uncertainties as described under the caption, "Factors That May Affect Future Result" in the company's annual report on Form 10-K and quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company assumes no obligation to update the information in this release.
MDSI's web/home page address: www.matrevic.bigstep.com