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Smartphone applications in cardiology

ESC Congress Report

  • The incorporation of smartphone technology in cardiological medicine is here to stay.
  • Smartphones offer unprecedented opportunities to monitor patients.
  • Smartphones offer a much better informed communication between patients and cardiologists due to the possibility to record events immediately and respond accordingly.


View the Slides from this session in ESC Congress 365

ESC TV : Watch Prof Cowie's interview
The developments in communication technology (smartphones) have changed how we communicate, inform ourselves and maintain relationships. Its acceptance and global use opens a myriad of new possibilities, including in medicine.
Smartphone technology incorporating improved and dedicated sensors could be used to address two major issues: 1) driving down the costs of healthcare and 2) informing the patient already at home about their health status.
While just days away from the announcement of the increased involvement of the smartphone industry in medicine, a symposium concerning Smartphone Applications in Cardiology was presented during the ESC 2014 Congress on Saturday.
Four speakers discussed the uses of smartphones and external devices, with the focus on Cardiology.

Dr. Caiaini, showed the current developments in measuring the electrocardiogram (ECG) by a smartphone and external devices. He discussed how sensors incorporated into a device can help detect emergencies and warn the patient to seek medical assistance. For example, a sensor placed on the camera lens can measure the pulse rate of the heart when a fingertip is placed against it. Also, more extended ECG measurements can be taken and a message delivered to the patient that all is well, or that a medical professional must be contacted. The first large scale patient studies to examine the benefits and accuracy of these systems have been published and more are expected.

Dr. Chronaki, the second speaker, discussed how developments in mHealth, or mobile health, have changed over the past decade. She noted that in implanted devices, such as ICD’s, telemonitoring is already applied on a large scale, showing benefits for both the patients and the physicians.
She said that increased cooperation between smartphone entities and related industries and medical professionals will be beneficial to patients and cardiologists. Other important topics which need to be addressed are how fees will be collected; who will collect the data were it will be stored?

Dr. Rodriguez-Munoz, showed how smartphones connected to wireless networks could be used to remotely guide echocardiographic procedures performed by trainees, to an expert at another location.
For example, during night shifts with limited amount of staff available, such resources could easily be dispatched without having to wait for the expert to arrive. Echocardiography with miniaturized devices is an excellent tool for managing this situation. Also, sending image data via a web application from hospital-to-hospital, even when they are located far from each other, can improve patient care. Having said that, it is also clear that there is still a lot of work to do concerning the high demands detailed medical images have, such as meeting the transmission speeds while maintaining the diagnostic quality.

Prof. Cowie, the final speaker of the session, showed the high interest of the European Union Commission in the application of this exciting technological developments and the possibilities they present in medicine. It is believed that an increased application of mHealth could result in a 30% reduction in health care costs. There are many issues to be addressed, such as data safety, accuracy, consumer’s rights, risk assessment, etc. What needs to be determined is the healthcare professional's role and the role of medical societies, such as the European Society of Cardiology.

The number of attendees if this symposium is a sign that there is a lot of interest in the topic and this will certainly increase in the near future.
Those interested in this topic can learn more at at the European Congress on e-Cardiology & e-Health, October 29-31, 2014 in Bern, Switzerland, which is endorsed by the ESC. More information can be found at: E-cardiohealth.org.

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Smartphone applications in cardiology

The content of this article reflects the personal opinion of the author/s and is not necessarily the official position of the European Society of Cardiology.