The facts are grim: One person dies from cardiovascular disease every 37 seconds in the United States. One of the most effective tests for the heart is the twelve-lead electrocardiogram (ECG). By assessing the electrical activity of the heart, an ECG test gives doctors a wealth of information they can use to determine your heart’s health and glean clues toward a diagnosis.
“ECG is old technology, but it’s the most useful technology to take care of a heart,” said Ruey-Kang Chang, M.D., professor of pediatrics at UCLA and CEO of QT Medical, a medical devices company. “It’s the most important test for a heart disease diagnosis.”
A downside to traditional ECGs is access.
“Up until recently, a twelve-lead ECG was only available in hospitals and doctors’ offices,” Dr. Chang said.
This made getting an ECG challenging for some patients even under the best of circumstances. Now the coronavirus pandemic means many patients cannot travel safely to get ECGs.
QT Medical recently introduced the PCA 500, an FDA-approved 12-lead ECG intended for personal use.
“We have created a system that brings the ECG to patients to use at home,” Dr. Chang said. “It takes minimal training to use and it empowers the patient to take control of their heart health.”
Even better, the company has created Xpress ECG.
“When a doctor orders an ECG, we ship it to the patient and they can do this test at home. When they’re done, they ship it back to us,” Dr. Chang said. “The ECG can be done on-demand, and two minutes later the results appear on the doctor’s phone. The test is just $30 and most insurance will cover it.”
The benefits of an at-home ECG solution go beyond avoiding unnecessary and risky travel, and lower costs (in-hospital ECGs can cost hundreds of dollars). ECGs performed by different technicians in different locations can introduce variables in terms of lead placement, and traveling to a lab or hospital can be stressful, making the data generated from an at-home ECG potentially more consistent, which means more accurate diagnoses.
Dr. Chang thinks personal-use ECGs will be useful in isolated places where there’s no access to a lab, such as airplanes, drilling platforms, and cruise ships. More importantly, he thinks the new normal will be one where patients are empowered and have an increased ability to manage their own health in the privacy of their own home.
“The telehealth trend will continue,” he said. “Even after the pandemic is over, we’ll need an adequate way to take care of diseases and conditions at home — and we are leading the way to make this happen.”