A new study from the University of Buffalo showed that not only did AliveCor's smartphone-connected heart monitor detect as many arrythmias as a traditional 14-day cardiac event monitor, but patients were also considerably more adherent to the smartphone-connected device.
"The point of the study was to determine whether any smartphone app could be good enough to replace what we normally use now, which is a 14-30 day event monitor," lead author Dr. Anne Curtis, who is also chief executive officer of UBMD Internal Medicine, said in a statement. "We showed that we can do as well with the app as with the event monitors."
In the study, which was presented recently at the Heart Rhythm Society (HRS) meeting in San Francisco, 32 patients with cardiac arrhythmias used both methods to monitor their condition. The AliveCor device recorded arrhythmic experiences in 29 of the 32 patients, compared to the traditional event monitor, which recorded them in 28 of the 32.
This is significant because the traditional event monitor was meant to be worn 24-7 by patients, whereas patients were instructed to take readings with the AliveCor device only when they had symptoms. The reason for the discrepancy? Curtis told MobiHealthNews it had to do with patients not wearing the event monitor.
"What happens is, I’ve seen patients do this, they take it home, they hate having the electrodes on, they’re embarrassed to wear that thing in public and they may even yank it off, or just wear it part of the day," she said. "Whereas the AliveCor is very easy to take wherever they are. So I think it’s to a significant extent a compliance issue, that patients don’t want to wear something 24-7 for two to four weeks, which is what you have to do with the event monitor."
Ultimately, only 58 percent of patients complied with the traditional event monitor, compared to 94 percent that used the AliveCor device as instructed. Additionally, 81 percent said they would be comfortable using the AliveCor device in social situations or at work, compared to 33 percent for the event monitor.
"The event monitors require electrocardiographic electrodes to be attached to the patient's skin, which can be irritating," Curtis said in a statement. "Then the patient has to wear the device that is attached to the electrodes, which is somewhat cumbersome, and most patients do not like to wear it in public. Hence, compliance is often poor."
AliveCor has been FDA cleared for some time, but the company seems to be amassing data that pits it against the standard of care in cardiac monitoring. In addition to this study, last summer Intermountain Healthcare began a trial testing AliveCor against a 12-lead ECG. Another trial, a 300-patient study at Columbia University, will test the effect of technology-enabled remote monitoring, including AliveCor devices and a text messaging intervention, on atrial fibrillation.
In March, AliveCor rebranded its AliveCor Mobile ECG device as Kardia Mobile and unveiled a second, upcoming hardware product: an Apple Watch strap that can take electrocardiogram readings, called KardiaBand. The strap is not yet commercially available because it still needs to secure FDA-clearance. AliveCor also announced new features for the Kardia Mobile app, including HealthKit connectivity.
Curtis has no affiliation with AliveCor, but wanted to test the device herself because she sees it as being both more cost effective, and a better experience for patients.
"If a patient comes in and is complaining of symptoms that last more than a couple of seconds, ... I would be very inclined to recommend to a patient that they use AliveCor first because it’s easy to use and they feel very comfortable with it," she said. "And the fact is, I’m going to get [good data] just about as often as I would with a standard event monitor. If they came back and the symptoms were so transient that they could never detect anything, then you might have to go on to an event monitor."