AliveCor’s iPhone-based electrocardiogram monitor bears all the hallmarks of modern mobile health technology, but the cheap, hand-held device also facilitates routine, clinic-based screening without the aid of a specialist. In studies taking place Down Under, some clinical receptionists screen patients for heart rhythm disorders before the patients ever sees the doctor.
The pre-visit screenings are part of a larger Australian study examining the AliveCor iECG, an FDA-cleared system that snaps onto the back of an iPhone and captures and displays heart rhythm data. The researchers concluded that the device is cost-effective, accurate and simple enough to use that even non-specialist screening can help weed out heart rhythm disorders.
"We are now getting receptionists in general practice to record an iECG before patients see their doctor," lead study author Nicole Lowres of the University of Sydney said in prepared remarks. "The iECG is extremely portable, which gives great flexibility for screening, and is simple to administer."
Researchers positioned the device as a potential lifesaver, reporting that pharmacies and general practitioners could help screen patients and warn them of an increased stroke risk.
"Our research showed that about 1.4% of people aged over 65 (50,000 Australians) have atrial fibrillation, but do not know it," senior author Professor Ben Freedman said. "The iECG allows us to screen patients for atrial fibrillation in minutes, and treat people early. This is a huge boost in the fight to reduce the amount of strokes, particularly in people over the age of 65."