AliveCor iECG now being tested by receptionists in doctor's offices

By Brian Dolan
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AliveCor Heart MonitorResearchers in Australia presented findings this month on the accuracy and benefits of the mobile health device developed by Khosla Ventures-backed US company AliveCor. The iPhone-enabled AliveCor Heart Monitor, formerly called the iPhone ECG, captures ECG from a special case that fits the patient or physician's smartphone. While the device's inventor American cardiologist Dr. Dave Albert is well known in digital health circles, the company was also cofounded by two Australians: Bruce Satchwell and Kim Barnett.

According to a report in The Australian newspaper, University of Sydney Professor Ben Freedman, who presented findings of his "iECG" study at a meeting of the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand, found AliveCor's algorithm for AF detection to be accurate 97 percent of the time. Freedman tested the device with 1,000 randomly selected seniors (people aged 65 and older) at 10 pharmacies in Sydney. Of those tested about 1.5 percent were found to be unaware that they were at risk for stroke.

"Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart rhythm problem and is responsible for almost one third of all strokes," Freedman told The Australian. "The good news is that stroke is highly preventable with anticoagulant medication, such as warfarin, which can reduce the risk by 66 percent. However, people with atrial fibrillation face up to a five-fold increased risk of stroke, and tend to have more severe strokes." 

Freedman's colleague and lead author of the study Nicole Lowres noted that one surprising finding from the study was that more than half of those with known atrial fibrillation when they were screened were not aware of their diagnosis even if they were taking medication like warfarin to treat the condition.

"The iECG can be viewed on the phone screen and also used as an educational tool to teach people about their heart rhythm." Lowres stated in a University of Sydney press release. "Our economic analysis has shown the iECG is highly cost effective and in fact this is the first mass screening program for AF likely to be cost effective, unlike traditional 12 lead ECGs recorded by a practice nurse," she said.

The research team is now testing AliveCor's device in physicians' offices in Australia but the device is not being operated by a practice nurse or a physician, the reception is conducting the screenings.

Freedman's research at The University of Sydney has been funded by a number of grants from BMS/Pfizer, Boehringer Ingelheim, and Bayer. The National Heart Foundation provided a scholarship for Lowres.

Over the past year AliveCor has been instrumental to a growing number of ongoing digital health studies.

Earlier this month La Jolla, California's Scripps Translational Science Institute (STSI) announced the official launch of its Wired for Health study, which includes 200 participants and leverages AliveCor's technology. Half of the group will be equipped with a health device: Sanofi’s IBGStar Blood Glucose Meter for patients with diabetes, a Withings Blood Pressure monitor for patients with hypertension, and an AliveCor Heart Monitor for those being treated for a heart arrhythmia.

In March of this year Researchers at the University of California in San Francisco (UCSF) announced the launch of the Health eHeart Study, which is leveraging mobile health apps and connected consumer medical devices -- including AliveCor's -- in an effort to track and monitor 1 million people in real-time.

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