Smartphone-connected ECG maker AliveCor has added a telemedicine service to its product. AliveCor AliveInsights will allow patients to send their recorded ECG readings to remote cardiac technicians or cardiologists for interpretation at any time, for a fee.
AliveCor co-founder Dr. Dave Albert has long hinted that this service was in the works.
"A human over-read with a very reasonable cost per read will be available in the near future," he said in an online comment back in February. "You can pick cardiac tech, CCU nurse or doc and how quickly you want the answer depending on how much you want to pay."
He told MobiHealthNews that the company has been fine-tuning the system before finally launching it.
"To us it's a milestone. And it reflects feedback that we've received from the thousands of customers we have of the kinds of services they would like to see us provide," he said. "Meeting customers' desires is usually good for business."
The AliveCor Heart Monitor is still cleared for prescription use only in the United States, so it's only available to patients with a prescription from their doctor. With the new service, patients will be able to choose between a technical review from a US-based cardiac technician or a "more in-depth clinical review" from a board-certified cardiologist.
Reviews will be available 24/7 for what the company called a "minimal fee." The cardiologist will run patients $12 and is powered by CompuMed. The cardiac technician option, powered by eCardio, costs $2, or patients can pay $5 to get their report within 30 minutes. Otherwise, the company promises a 24-hour turnaround. Patients can share their interpretations with their personal physician via the app.
AliveCor has been on the leading edge of consumer ECG devices that don't require wires or electrodes. The device's ECG sensor is built into an iPhone case, or, for the company's recently launched Android device, the form factor a pocket-sized wireless-enabled sensor that attaches to the back of a smartphone. Both devices are FDA 510(k) cleared and sell for $199, but AliveInsights is currently available only on iOS devices. The company said Android support will be available next month.
Albert said the company plans to have both human and computer-generated ECG interpretations available to patients in the future. The company's atrial fibrillation detection algorithm had a 100 percent sensitivity and 96 percent specificity in a trial presented at the American Heart Association in late 2012. He told MobiHealthNews that patients having to pay for reads is a good thing.
"Fees that are low enough to get people to do it, but not so low that there isn't some feedback that makes someone think twice before doing it five times a day," he said. "People have believed for a long time that healthcare would be paid for by their health insurance, and that's led to overuse of healthcare resources."
In addition to computer-generated interpretations, the company still expects to begin selling its product over the counter in the United States, as it already does in Europe. Albert said services like AliveInsights will be even more important to over-the-counter customers, who might also want the addition functionality of the app recommending a cardiologist to them if they don't have one.
"This tier of services dip into that, because someone who buys this device over the counter might not have a cardiologist and if there's [a heart anomaly] that's discovered, they may want one," he said. "So it's not just doctors prescribing apps, its apps prescribing doctors."
Update: The original post has been updated with comments from Dr. Dave Albert and pricing information for the service.