An implanted medical device (e.g. infusion pump) and an external device communicate with one another via telemetry messages that are receivable only during windows or listening periods. Each listening period is open for a prescribed period of time and is spaced from successive listening periods by an interval. The prescribed period of time is typically kept small to minimize power consumption. To increase likelihood of successful communication, the window may be forced to an open state, by use of an attention signal, in anticipation of an incoming message. To further minimize power consumption, it is desirable to minimize use of extended attention signals, which is accomplished by the transmitter maintaining an estimate of listening period start times and attempting to send messages only during listening periods. In the communication device, the estimate is updated as a result of information obtained with the reception of each message from the medical device.