How Telehealth is Making Global Heartbeats Stronger

heart happy couple embracing global telehealth technologyFebruary has become the month most closely associated with Valentine’s Day, and while others are celebrating their love with candy hearts, healthcare organizations are recognizing real hearts in February with National Heart Month. And with national heart failure costs reaching an estimated $30.7 billion a year, per the CDC, National Heart Month is crucial in bringing awareness to this rising issue. Fortunately, continuous advancements in telehealth are decreasing this number as this innovative technology is making hearts everywhere healthier.

Smart Stethoscopes 

The stethoscope is, perhaps, one of the most significant medical inventions created in the past century. Surprisingly, the stethoscope has stood the test of time since 1816 and is considered to be one of the most reliable pieces of equipment for heart diagnostics. Despite the stethoscope’s ability to remain relevant, this instrument has not remained immune to the permeation of telehealth technology. Smartphone connected stethoscopes have recently launched into the mainstream, and are becoming a vital tool to increasing heart health globally.

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The Eko Core device, for example, hooks on to an analog stethoscope, records, then sends the data via Bluetooth to the app for analysis. In a recent MobiHealth News article, Eko Devices COO Jason Bellet states, "In the digital age, you have heart sounds from a patient from pediatrics, when they were 3, until they’re 27. We now have the ability with big data to trend that, to analyze it, to actually provide clinicians analytics above and beyond just listening to it." With smartphone connected stethoscopes, clinicians are better able to diagnose and treat hard-to-identify heart conditions that may otherwise go undetected.

Telemonitoring Trails for CHF

With over 5 million Americans reported living with Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) by the CDC, telehealth has begun to play a crucial role in helping patients manage existing conditions, prevent readmissions and improve their heart health. Kaiser Permanente is one such healthcare organization that has begun piloting a home monitoring program for patients with CHF that combines more intensive human support with advanced telehealth services.

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Patients of the Kaiser Permanente program are trained to use a device that measures their weight, blood pressure and heart rate. This data is then transmitted by modem to a call center monitored by nurse case managers who can help advise patients flagged “trouble” or contact a patient’s doctor directly. Phillip Madvig, MD, Associate Medical Director of The Permanente Medical Group explained that the two Kaiser centers that have piloted this program have cut the rate of hospitalization and readmission for CHF patients to about a third of the average rate system-wide. It is clear now more than ever that the adoption of telehealth programs to implement patient monitoring programs is vital to improving the health of heart patients.

Preventative Apps

Telehealth is even helping heartbeats pump stronger at home with advanced apps that can calculate the risk of heart disease as a preventative action. Apps such as the MyHeart Counts from Stanford University School of Medicine tracks users’ number of steps, level of happiness, hours slept and even vegetable intake all while prompting users to learn more about their heart health. Other apps such as the Aspirin-Guide mobile app allows doctors to personalize low-dose aspirin treatments in primary prevention of cardiovascular disease.

With a growing awareness of heart health this month as well as continued investments into telehealth services and devices, the future looks bright for patients with heart conditions. Telehealth will continue to improve heart health word wide, so heartbeats everywhere will grow stronger.

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