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Progressive Digital and Wearable Landscape Expands Horizons for EPs’ to Provide Continuous Patient Care

In This Article

  • Progressive digitization and standardization of electronic health records highlights a need for a culture shift in electrophysiologists’ clinical practices
  • Physicians are rapidly developing the tools needed to deliver the care patients need at the exact time they need it
  • Though these devices have traditionally offered general wellness monitoring, there is a recent increase in apps to monitor disease states
  • Dr. Singh maintains it’s the electrophysiologist’s responsibility to ensure that these technological advances never replace the humane aspect of medicine

Progressive digitization, coupled with the increasing standardization of electronic health records (EHRs), highlights a need for a culture shift in electrophysiologists’ clinical practices, says Jagmeet P. Singh, MD, PhD, associate chief of the Cardiology Division at Massachusetts General Hospital. The abundance of smart devices, including activity monitors and smart watches is inevitably ushering physicians towards a future in which continuous monitoring of a patient’s heart rate, blood pressure, sleep stage and stress level is increasingly possible.

In light of these technological leaps, Dr. Singh writes in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, physicians are rapidly developing the tools needed to deliver the care patients need at the exact time they need it.

Technological innovations have already proved immensely effective in assisting electrophysiologists with the detection and treatment of chronic cardiological conditions. For the last several decades, implants such as defibrillators and pacemakers, with the power of a few simple sensors, have significantly decreased the cost of treating patients suffering from atrial fibrillation (AF) and congestive heart failure. Singh explains that cutting-edge advances have led to further sophistication of integrated sensors that will soon be capable of notifying patients and physicians up to a month before a major cardiac event.

The ever-changing landscape of wearable devices is expanding new horizons for the future of continuous patient care. Though these devices have traditionally offered general wellness monitoring, Dr. Singh notes the recent increase in apps to monitor disease states. In his own clinical practice, Dr. Singh has utilized such apps to successfully monitor and manage AF in patients often overseas.

However, there are significant hurdles to overcome before wearable devices can be broadly integrated into an electrophysiologist’s everyday workflow, warns Singh. In addition to general problems regarding the effective integration of actionable user data with EHRs and implantable devices, the advent of a truly continuous patient care model will require patients to take an increasingly hands-on approach to the management of their chronic conditions.

Though the future of patient care will surely become increasingly complex, Dr. Singh believes these complexities will yield to a brighter future. Dr. Singh cautiously maintains it’s the electrophysiologist’s responsibility to ensure that these technological advances never replace the humane aspect of medicine.

Refer a patient to the Corrigan Minehan Heart Center

Related

Atrial fibrillation (AF) and heart failure (HF) as individual cardiac conditions are associated with morbidity and mortality in epidemic proportions. With at least 3 million patients with AF and 5 million with HF in the United States, the clinical effect and the health economic burden cannot be underestimated.