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Digital Health for General Cardiology

General cardiologists will soon face the digital revolution of medicine and cardiology: are they ready for this?

Very recently the E-Journal of Cardiology Practice published a series of articles about Digital Health applications in General Cardiology to enhance their knowledge and answer to potential questions about its use.

What is e-Health? is the question which the first article is trying to answer.

e-Health is the use of information and communication technology to support health and healthcare. Three major areas of Digital Health are telemedicine, smartphone apps, and wearable sensors. All domains of e-Health have developed quickly in the past decade, with further acceleration during the COVID-19 crisis.

Remote teleconsultation is now routine for many cardiologists and is appreciated by patients for its convenience.

m-Health technologies, usually based around a smartphone, are rapidly expanding and may be useful in the support of health and lifestyle change, and medical decision making.

Increasingly, citizens are using digital technologies to support their own health and healthcare decision making. Linking data streams into the electronic health record remains challenging.

e-Health ECG portable devices article faces the issues relating to long term ECG monitoring with the aim to document symptoms such as syncope and palpitations.

Patch ECG monitors allow recording 1-3 ECG leads up to 14 days. External loop recorders store ECG segments of fixed duration. Smartphone and smartwatch applications can detect and classify rhythm as regular or irregular.

The third article, e-Health in heart failure, focusses on the use of Telemedicine in heart failure patients consisting of non-invasive and invasive home measuring devices to transfer vital parameters from the patient's home to caregivers.

These tools support the conventional care provided in outpatient clinics or cardiology practice rather than being a substitute for face-to-face contacts.

Three landmark studies showed superiority of this type of intervention in mortality and morbidity compared to patients without telemedicine.

The last article of the series Ethics of digital health tools, analyses new technologies specific and novel ethical issues related to data quality, patient-physician relationship, the equity of access to healthcare services and questions arising from the utilisation of artificial intelligence (AI).

High-quality outcomes and improving the experience of care through the process of digital transformation can be challenging but is vital to long-term success.