What You Don’t Know Can Kill You: Unmasking AFib's Sneaky Onset through AI-Enabled Virtual Telemetry
By Stuart Long, CEO, InfoBionic

Atrial fibrillation (AFib), which is an irregular or very rapid heart rhythm, is a top-of-mind heart health concern for both cardiologists and older patients. In 2019, AFib was mentioned on 183,321 death certificates and was the underlying cause of death in 26,535 of those deaths. It’s estimated that overall, AFib is responsible for 454,000 U.S. hospitalizations each year and contributes to around 158,000 deaths.

At a population-level, the concern about AFib is becoming more pronounced as time goes on. With the aging of the large baby boomer generation, AFib is estimated to affect 6 million patients today, and is anticipated to be diagnosed in more than 10 million people by 2050. While its impact is pervasive, the exact cause of AFib is not always known, which is precisely what makes it so dangerous. When diagnosed early, AFib is generally treatable, often with a combination of medication, lifestyle changes, and in some cases, medical procedures.

The challenge of AFib is that it often lurks quietly, causing no symptoms at all, and is therefore not surfaced during typical preventative care. In addition, AFib can also impact people who are not considered high-risk, requiring a heightened level of vigilance among all older people regardless of their obvious risk factors. But technology is changing. As remote monitoring becomes more accessible and AI enables the efficient analysis of patient data, the diagnosis and treatment of AFib is becoming more achievable for high-risk and low-risk patients alike. AI in particular has dramatically increased the availability of high acuity cardiac monitoring in a way that is both cost efficient and highly effective.

Virtual cardiac telemetry is a remote monitoring system that uses wireless technology to contiguously track and transmit a patient's cardiac activity, providing near real-time data analysis and alerting healthcare providers to potential issues without the need for hospitalization. AI-enabled analysis is the application of artificial intelligence algorithms to interpret complex medical data, including heart rhythm patterns from telemetry, to identify abnormalities such as AFib with greater accuracy and speed than traditional methods—enabling physician to facilitate possible early interventions and personalized treatment plans.

Together, these advancements have the power to illuminate health indicators that were previously opaque in a way that’s efficient and convenient for the patient. They also have the power to truly transform cardiac care—not just for high-risk populations, but for everyone. Let’s explore why increasing your understanding of AFib’s effect on heart health is so important and how virtual telemetry and AI-enabled technology can help lower AFib-related complications.

AI-Enabled Analysis as a Force Multiplier

Virtual telemetry has the potential to lower cost and barriers to adoption, enhancing the accessibility of high-quality cardiac monitoring. When combined with AI-enabled analysis, virtual telemetry becomes even more powerful.

When enhanced by AI-enabled analysis, virtual telemetry sensors transmit data wirelessly to a system where AI algorithms analyze the patterns in real-time. The use of AI in cardiovascular medicine demonstrated their effectiveness in a recent Mayo Clinic study, which showed that AI-assisted screening tools could detect conditions like left ventricular dysfunction with a 93% accuracy, higher than the accuracy of a mammogram (85%).

The precision of AI in virtual telemetry could be pivotal in the early detection of AFib, before symptoms become apparent. Mayo Clinic reports that AI-guided ECGs are utilized to detect atrial fibrillation in its early stages. This advanced detection may speak to a future of managing AFib in patients who might not exhibit traditional risk factors, broadening the spectrum of preventive care.

AI's capacity to analyze simple tests and anticipate potential cardiac issues may help address the cardiologist shortage in the future. By enabling primary care providers to screen and monitor for conditions like AFib more effectively, virtual telemetry may reduce the immediate need for specialist intervention and alleviate the workload on busy cardiologists. With manual data analysis left to AI, clinicians of all specialties can focus and maximize their time spent on the most impactful areas of care.

4 Key Criteria for Choosing a Virtual Telemetry Solution to Monitor for AFib

Patients can advocate for themselves by discussing the incorporation of virtual telemetry with their primary care and cardiac care providers. But not all virtual telemetry solutions are created the same. Following are four criteria that signify an ideal virtual telemetry solution for AFib.

  1. Is easy and effortless to use: Adoption is the first step in ensuring any virtual telemetry solution makes an impact. The ideal solution will have an easy learning curve, lack extra wires and clunky equipment, and eliminate the need to trek back and forth to the doctor’s office just to transmit your data.
  2. Supports a wide range of acuity: An ideal solution will go beyond basic, low-acuity monitoring. Instead, it should have the ability to support a full range of acuity—including complex, hospital-grade remote monitoring for even the most nuanced of use cases. A solution known for the quality and diagnostic yield of its data will enable providers to unlock the full benefit of virtual telemetry.
  3. Provides your clinician with the full picture: A virtual telemetry solution should provide clinicians “all of the data, all of the time.” This includes the ability to transmit data in near real-time, bridge gaps in connectivity with total continuity, and provide both event and non-event data to support accurate and timely diagnosis.
  4. Offers AI-enhanced data analytics: AI-assisted analysis is critical to cutting through the complexity of virtual telemetry data. It has high possibilities to alleviate clinical burden, increase precision, and support more proactive interventions through advanced pattern recognition and at-a-glance dashboards.

Ending the AFib Epidemic is Possible with the Right Solution

Thanks to virtual telemetry and AI-enabled analysis, we are on the precipice of a breakthrough in cardiac health—one that could reduce the “silent killer”: AFib. But the rate at which this change happens relies on confident adoption of virtual telemetry solutions by clinicians, cardiologists, and their patients. Patients should consider the above criteria when discussing their heart health with their doctor and ask how virtual telemetry solutions can enable more effective cardiac care.


Author Bio

Stuart Long, CEO, InfoBionic
Stuart has been the CEO of InfoBionic since March 2017. He underscores the company’s commitment to widespread market adoption of its transformative wireless remote patient monitoring platform for chronic disease management. With more than 25 years of experience in the medical device market, Stuart brings expertise in achieving rapid commercial growth. Before joining InfoBionic, he was CEO at Monarch Medical Systems, LLC, and global chief marketing and sales officer for CapsuleTech, Inc

Company Profile

InfoBionic’s digital technology has transformed the efficiency and economics of cardiac remote patient monitoring. The company’s vision for its recently FDA-cleared third-generation platform, the MoMe® ARC, is to remove the roadblocks hindering virtual and remote diagnosis and decision-making. The Massachusetts-based team of seasoned entrepreneurs has had successful careers in healthcare, IT, medical devices, and mobile technology and brings specific expertise in remote monitoring and cardiology.


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