IntelliPAP SmartLink System Review
By Andrew Senske, President CPAP-Supply.com
Last Updated 5/11/2009 11:12:00 PM


The DeVilbiss IntelliPAP CPAP machines have been top sellers for the last year, and for good reason. They're excellent CPAP machines with great features that just about everyone can appreciate:
  • Lightweight and compact design
  • Super quiet
  • Inexpensive compared to machines with the same features
  • Best warranty in the industry
Another great feature that's actually an optional add-on is the SmartLink system. The SmartLink hardware consists of a module that attaches to the back of the CPAP machine and a data card that fits into the module. The data card is a standard 1 gigabyte SD card that's found in many digital cameras these days. The SmartLink system can be added to either the IntelliPAP Standard or the IntelliPAP AutoAdjust CPAP machines, and provides useful information about your CPAP therapy, including details regarding your usage and compliance, your AHI (Apnea Hypopnea Index), and leak percentage. With the SmartLink module and data card installed on your IntelliPAP CPAP machine, this type of information will be recorded and can be retrieved right from the LCD screen on the CPAP machine. Pressing the left and right arrow buttons - located just beneath the IntelliPAP's LCD screen - simultaneously when your data card is inserted into the SmartLink module will show the SmartLink menu on the LCD screen.

IntelliPAP SmartLink Software
Accessing SmartLink Menu on IntelliPAP AutoAdjust

In addition to the information above, the IntelliPAP SmartLink system also records and displays NRI (Non-Responding Event Index), EPI (Exhale Puff Index), SpO2 (Pulse Oximetry), and PR (Pulse Rate). The NRI is the number of non-responding events detected per hour, and the EPI is the number of exhale puff events per hour. An exhale puff is detected when you inhale through your nasal mask, and then exhale through your mouth. To gather the SpO2 and PR a pulse oximeter must be connected to the SmartLink module during use of the CPAP machine. There's a connection port on the side of the SmartLink module for attaching the pulse oximeter. If you don't have a pulse oximeter, there's no need to worry. The SmartLink device will work just fine without it. If you do have a pulse oximeter then you should hook it up to the SmartLink module since the pulse oximetry and pulse rate data are very useful. A low oximetry reading generally means you're not breathing well, and such a condition is usually combined with an increased heart rate. These two pieces of information can be very telling.

Besides the SmartLink hardware that's required for data recording, DeVilbiss has also created the SmartLink Desktop software along with a couple other pieces of hardware that make it easy to transfer data from your data card to your computer for analysis.

The SmartLink software installation is quick, but starting the software is slow. Really slow. In fact, you might think something is wrong. With patience, however, the software will finally finish initializing and it will bring you to a screen that contains a "New Patient" button with the declaration that there is "Nothing found to display". Clicking the "New Patient" button takes you to a screen where you can enter information about yourself (or your patients, if you're a doctor or clinician). The only required fields for patient setup are first name and last name. After entering the patient information the SmartLink software will ask you if you'd like to assign a device to the patient file you just created. If you say, "yes", then you'll be able to enter a CPAP machine serial number and some comments, along with your machine settings.

IntelliPAP SmartLink Software
IntelliPAP SmartLink Software Disc

One neat little piece of hardware that's included with the complete SmartLink system is the card reader. The card reader is like a USB thumb drive with an SD slot in it. To upload card data to the SmartLink Desktop software you just need to insert the SD card into the card reader, and then insert the card reader into a USB port on your computer. A USB extension cable is included with the complete SmartLink system in case you don't have a USB port conveniently located (for example, if you only have unused USB ports on the back of your computer, or if you can't fit the IntelliPAP SmartLink thumb drive into an already-crowded USB hub because of the size of the SmartLink thumb drive).

If you have an SD slot built into your computer then you don't need to use the SmartLink card reader. You can just insert the SmartLink data card right into your computer. When you connect the data card to the computer - either using the card reader or an SD slot on your computer - when the SmartLink Desktop software is running, you'll see a message that prompts you to upload new data for the serial number of the machine that was used to record the data. If you've already created a patient file and have assigned your serial number to that patient file, then the uploaded data will be associated with your patient file. It's like magic! The option of "View Reports" becomes available as soon as a patient file has usage data associated with it.

IntelliPAP SmartLink Software
IntelliPAP SmartLink Card Reader & Adapter Cable

When you view a report, the summary screen shows up first and a tab labeled "1-Night" is available that allows you to see your per-night results. On the summary screen you'll see a usage histogram showing the number of days the CPAP machine was used for various lengths of time, along with a chart showing "Time at Pressure". The time at pressure chart shows the pressure at or below which you spend 90% of your time sleeping. In the example below, we can see the patient spent 90% of the time at a pressure of 14 cm H2O or below, with 40% of the time being at the minimum set pressure of 5 cm H2O. As you can see, the Time at Pressure chart is extremely useful in getting a good understanding of how your IntelliPAP AutoAdjust CPAP machine is changing during the night to accomodate your needs.

IntelliPAP SmartLink Summary Report
SmartLink Summary Report (Click for Larger Image)

On the "1-Night" screen you can choose the session for which you'd like to see details. In the example below I've chosen night number 3 which occurred from May 10, 2009 at 11:06 PM to May 11, 2009 at 6:47 AM. For this single night we can see that the 90th percentile (the pressure at or below which the patient spent 90% of the time) was 7.5 cm H2O. We can also see charts for leak rate as well as event recording. The charts show that mask leaks were not a problem at all, and most events were hypopneas with one apnea occurring around 5:15 AM.

IntelliPAP SmartLink 1-Night Report
SmartLink Summary Report (Click for Larger Image)

The table below the charts includes even more information for the one-night session. Here's the list of available data:

  • Time - total time data was recorded in the selected mode
  • AHI - apnea hypopnea index, average number of apnea and hypopnea events recorded per hour
  • AI - apnea index, average number of apnea events recorded per hour
  • HI - hypopnea index, average number of hypopnea events recorded per hour
  • NRI - non-responding event index
  • Snores - everyone knows what a snore is, right?
  • Mask Leak Time - percentage of time during which mask leaks were recorded as being above 95 L/m (liters per minute), which is generally the threshold that indicates poor mask fit
  • EPI - exhale puff index
  • Average Pressure - average pressure setting on the CPAP machine over the course of a session or study, in units of cm H2O (centimeters of water)
  • Average Leak - average circuit leak rate recorded over the course of a session or study, in units of L/m (liters per minute)
  • Average Estimated Tidal Volume - an estimate of the average amount of air breathed in or out per breath during respiration in units of mL (mililiters)
  • Average Breath Rate - average number of breaths per minute

If you want to be able to print your report you can export to a .pdf file, and then print from within Adobe Acrobat Reader. When you click the "Export to PDF" button on the summary screen, the export process begins immediately and you're prompted to save or open a .pdf of the summary screen. When you export while looking at a particular session, you're prompted to select the sessions which you'd like to export. You can export any sessions you wish. You can highlight multiple selections by pressing the CTRL key on your keyboard while clicking on the session name in the export list.

There's one more feature of the SmartLink software that is noteworthy. When you're looking at the patient file you created for yourself, you can select the option called "View/Edit Study Details". This "Study Details" screen allows you to view and modify the IntelliPAP CPAP machine settings. You can modify the therapy settings like therapy mode and pressure setting, the device settings like tubing length and delay time, and the respiratory event detection criteria which basically defines an apnea or hypopnea in terms of duration and flow reduction percentage. All of this can, of course, be adjusted right on the CPAP machine using the LCD screen and buttons on the IntelliPAP device, but it's nice to be able to see and adjust all of these settings on a single screen using the software.

The table below summarizes the good and the not-so-good aspects of the IntelliPAP SmartLink system:

Good ThingsNeeds Improvement
SmartLink is a simple add-on to an IntelliPAP CPAP machineModule must be attached for machine to record data
Uses standard 1 GB SD cardSlow software startup
Can export reports to PDF and print themLimited instructions
CPAP machine settings can be adjusted in software 
USB card reader and extension adapter included in complete system 
A lot of the SmartLink data is available right on the CPAP machine itself 
Can record data from pulse oximeter if you've got one 

The IntelliPAP SmartLink system for IntelliPAP CPAP machines is a handy tool you can use to take charge of your CPAP therapy. It's easy to use and it presents data in a very user-friendly and easy-to-interpret format. For more information or to place an order just head on over to the SmartLink page on our website. We sell the complete SmartLink system and we also sell the individual system components separately.

Andrew Senske
President
www.cpap-supply.com

CPAP-Supply.com is a leading online retailer of CPAP equipment. Located in Spokane, WA CPAP-Supply.com has been serving thousands of customers around the world since 2001. Founded on a belief that patients are their own best primary care providers, CPAP-Supply.com understands the importance of educating patients and customers on both the effects of and treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. For more information visit CPAP-Supply.com or call toll free 1-888-955-2727.