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Is live ECG Holter data risking patient results?

August 19, 2020
Holter technology continues to advance with the latest promising live data for real time analysis but is the race to market by manufacturers driving results that ultimately compromise care for patients.

The Global Holter ECG Monitoring Market was valued at $226.5 million in 2016 and is expected to reach $418.3 million by 2023, according to the latest Allied Market Research.

Asia-Pacific regions are anticipated to have the highest compound annual growth rate globally at 10.4% during 2017-2023.

Undoubtedly, the willingness of cardiologists and health professionals to embrace technology that can improve testing and detection methods for an ever-growing cardiac patient population is part of the driving force behind this growth.

Device companies are obviously keen to fulfil the opportunity to meet such demands. Apple’s detection of atrial fibrillation on its Apple Watch indeed revealed the wide-scale interest about wearable technology in detection of atrial health care.

However, by its own admission Apple recognised the leap to delivering medical-grade data of diagnostic quality demanded much more – a perspective that was shared by cardiologists and the health sector.

Holter device companies faced similar challenges in their latest bid to apply mobile data technologies to diagnostics, according to CardioScan Medical Director Assoc Prof Harry Mond, and he warned of the risks.

“New Holter technology can be worn by patients for up to 14 days and record continuously over multiple channels, which ensures accurate detection and diagnosis,” he said.

“The quality of the traces of data collected in such cardiac studies significantly improves patient care and has the potential to reduce stroke and heart related deaths.

“However, some of the newer companies are focussed on live data and right now that still has issues.”

He warned that Holter recorders that transmitted via a separate mobile phone device were often troubled by signal drop out that resulted in hours of lost recording as well as significant unintended artefact.

“This is highly problematic in the detection of intermittent paroxysmal atrial fibrillation or other cardiac arrhythmias, and such data loss undermines the values of long Holter monitoring in the first place.”

“Continuous, high quality recordings combined with the comfort of patch Holters has provided for improved compliance and more comprehensive heart studies over longer periods.

“Any risk to that data risks the proper diagnosis and treatment of patients, and as such it wouldn’t be recommended for use at this time.”

The requirement for patients to charge and manage the mobile device was a further risk to data integrity, he said.

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