Pandemic could give a boost to remote-monitoring devices that keep patients out of the doctor’s office

| | May 21, 2020
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Credit: PBS
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It was a shift that began long before the pandemic: Tech companies, health providers, and patients alike were increasingly looking to remote devices like miniature electrocardiograms and blood pressure cuffs connected to the internet that let clinicians keep tabs on care from afar.

Now, with virtual care emerging as a safer alternative to in-person care, remote heart monitoring tools may be having a breakout moment.

The devices could prove useful during the pandemic for a range of reasons, from their ability to catch undiagnosed heart abnormalities in patients missing routine medical appointments, to their usefulness in gauging Covid-19 patients’ responses to experimental medications that impact the heart.

Nearly every heart-focused health tech company — from startups like AliveCor and iRhythm to medical device giants like Medtronic — has moved recently to make its heart monitoring EKG devices more broadly available for cardiac patients to use at home and for clinicians to use on Covid-19 patients. Their goal is twofold: keep tabs on at-risk patients while minimizing exposure to staff and other patients.

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If virtual care — including remote heart monitoring — can give patients and clinicians a clearer picture of heart health in real time, experts project their use could become far more widespread in the coming months and years.

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