Thanks to prominent cardiologist Eric Topol, everyone and their mother knows about AliveCor and its ability to snap on to the back of an iPhone and transmit what the company calls clinical-quality ECGs.
But there are other innovative mobile cardiovascular tools on the market too. A new report by a national health policy institute, NEHI, talks about some of these tools that have the potential to transform how chronic illnesses, including cardiovascular disease are managed, and how they may lower costs.
Mobile Blood Pressure Monitors
NEHI believes that mobile blood pressure monitors can be more effective because they track blood pressure regularly instead of a single reading patients get when visiting a primary care physician at a clinic. One currently available product is the Withings wireless blood pressure monitor that attaches to an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. The data is stored on the device, so no manual updating of the results is required. Also, results can be emailed to a doctor.
Mobile ECG Monitors
By the fall of 2012, a mobile ECG monitor developed by SHL Telemedicine – called SmartHeart – will hit the market, according to the company’s website. It is compatible with iPhone, Blackberry and Android smartphones and aims to provide ECG data within 30 seconds. Meanwhile, there is no firm date when AliveCor will launch its mobile ECG monitor, which is currently being tested. The company raised $10.5 million in June to help in commercialization efforts,.
Mobile Body Sensors
Wireless body sensors are also an emerging technology poised to change the way cardiovascular disease is managed. Typically, worn underneath clothes, they are able to collect data about vital signs such as heart rate, physical activity and even sleep patterns. Data is then routed to smartphones or computers for analysis. NEHI points to Delta’s ePatch as an example. The device is mounted on the skin and can conduct electromyograms to monitor the electric activity of the nerves and muscles. However, because it is a platform technology, it can track and monitor oxygen level, heart rate and other vital signs. The product is designed to fit into a person’s daily life and can also be worn while taking a shower.
A similar, remote monitoring, telemedicine product has been conceived at Preventice. The company has developed the so-called BodyGuardian monitor, based on technology licensed from the Mayo Clinic. Preventice recently announced that Avery Dennison Medical Solutions will manufacture its wireless, wearable sensor once the Food and Drug Administration clears it.
While NEHI believes that mobile cardiovascular tools are technologies to watch, it acknowledges that clinical value of these tools have not been proven yet. However, small manufacture case studies show that remote ECGs can help in improving the detection of a cardiac event. Similarly a small manufacture study of mobile blood pressure monitors suggests that it may have some “prognostic value,” NEHI said. The nonprofit could not find any studies done by manufacturers to ascertain the clinical benefit of mobile body sensors.