mHealth dominates the headlines from Wired’s Health Conference

Great to see mHealth tech (namely Dr Dave Albert’s iPhone ECG) getting such a prominent profile by Daniela Hernandez at Wired following last months Wired Health Conference in New York.

Bit of a disappointment that much of the article seems to be written in the wrong tense:

AliveCor’s yet-to-be-released iPhone cover and accompanying app promise to help you monitor your heart

There’s nothing yet-to-be-released about it. You can buy this now as long as you say you’ll only use it on animals.

This could all be done from home, office or convenient locale, and a medical professional could then download and analyze that information

Instead of “could all be done” this should read “is being done” eg. here in Europe we’ve been doing this countless times per day from some of the most inconvenient places on earth (thousands of feet in the air and hundreds of miles out to sea) for more than a year.

Patients or people at risk for cardiac disease could self-administer an ECG anytime and send that data to their cardiologists in near-real-time

Due to the ease of use and convenience of use there are possibly even bigger opportunities than this eg. screening people who don’t even think they are at risk (read here about our “lessons from a remote patient experience” where we used this device to ultimately save the life of a patient who had a asymptomatic heart condition).

As an initial screen, AliveCor’s technology could have “the potential to improve quality of care and reduce health care expenditures,” said UCLA Associate Chief of Cardiology Dr. Gregg Fonarow. “This is a very exciting idea.”

To my mind there’s nothing “could” about it. In my experience there’s no easier and more convenient way for an untrained person to test for a simple but potentially life threatening condition like atrial fibrillation.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved the Alivecor device for official medical use on humans. However, interested parties can buy a $199 version intended for use on dogs instead

While this obviously has a big impact on the access patients have to tech like the Alivecor device I think it’s important to remind ourselves that the FDA has approved a lot of things that aren’t very effective and there’s a lot of products that aren’t approved that are in every day use (eg. the millions of prescriptions Doctors write for off label use of drugs).

Still, it could provide doctors with up-to-date information about a patient in their home environment

I think it’s important we don’t overlook the selfcare opportunities a technology like this can also provide patients with eg. to help them better manage their medication regimes.

Assuming doctors soon get the chance to use an AliveCor ECG, they would need to teach their patients how to use the device and how to understand the data so that it can function properly as a mobile health tracker

Or maybe the company will bundle a video tutorial with the app that will show the patient how to do this themselves? Maybe the app won’t even make it look like a medical test at all eg. it might just look like a game:

About David Doherty
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