In the UK alone there are over 1.2 million stroke survivors with two thirds of survivors leaving hospital with a disability. This leads to an estimated cost of £26 billion a year. It is estimated that 7,000 strokes could be prevented and over 2,000 lives saved every year in England if people with Atrial Fibrillation (AF or AFib) were adequately detected and treated.*
Earlier this year, the NHS 10 Year Plan set out a clear target of preventing thousands of strokes by identifying and supporting people with AF. As AF has low public awareness and often asymptomatic, there is a real challenge in identifying people with AF and ensuring they have effective treatment as early as possible.
In response, medtech companies with emerging technology are introducing solutions to assist primary and secondary care providers to improve their arrhythmia detection rates. With a growing number of new and diverse products on the market, there are many features that are becoming more requested when it comes to selecting a new device:
1. Compact and mighty devices:
Many arrhythmia detection devices used within hospitals today, have limited functionality i.e. they only monitor a patient’s heart rhythm for 24 to 48 hours, with some incorporate a single ECG channel or record a pre-set number of events. These devices are less precise in identifying patients’ irregular or intermittent arrhythmias, in particular, paroxysmal AF, bradycardia and tachycardia.
The new generation of ambulatory ECG monitors are far more sophisticated in collating and communicating heart rhythm data, incorporating Wi-Fi, 3-channel ECG, accelerometers, respiration rates and can store full heart data for up to 14 days. This advanced level of patient data can help clinicians make better informed decisions and diagnoses about their patients.
2. Data Clarity is paramount:
No matter how technologically advanced a medtech device is, if the source data collated is not of the highest accuracy, the data output given to the clinician will be less reliable. All ECG devices depend on electrodes fixed to a patient to collect data. New advances in disposable electrode technology now incorporate sophisticated materials that are more sensitive, flexible and water-resistant. Not only do they provide optimised ECG readings but they are more comfortable for the patient to wear, five days or more at a time. The clinician can then support their diagnosis based on reliable and detailed data.
3. Low cost data analysis:
Analysing patient ECG data quickly and effectively depends on the software platform the hospital or clinic has integrated into the workflow. Many hospitals are tied into paying substantial annual software licenses in order to continue downloading and reporting ECG data from certain device providers. There is also a tendency in out-sourcing data analysis to third parties which can delay patient diagnosis and opens patient data security issues. With the NHS looking at ways to reduce operational costs without compromising quality, the next generation medtech devices now incorporate license-free software, allowing clinicians to analyse full disclosure data, create reports and share with the clinical team without additional operational costs.
Ultimately, the new mobile heart arrhythmia devices provide additional layers of continuous patient information up to 14 days, are more accurate and more cost-effective. This combination has the potential to offer clinicians a smart solution to detecting and treating AF patients quickly and cost-effectively, helping reduce the number of strokes in the UK every year.
Product Marketing Manager – Connected Health
Renew Health Ltd