Wearable technologies that include digital and automated health, as well as telehealth, are expected to be well integrated into cardiovascular care in the next 5 years, according to a presentation intended to be delivered at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology (ACC.20)/World Congress of Cardiology.1

In the next 10 years, a combination of digital health and telehealth will allow cardiology specialists to partly rely on automated healthcare, according to Paul J. Wang, MD, professor of medicine and bioengineering at Stanford University, California, and Mintu Turakhia, MD, director of the Stanford Center for Digital Health.

In the past few years, funding dedicated to the digital health sector has surpassed that of medical technologies, reaching $7.4 billion in 2019.2 It is estimated that 81% of Americans currently own a smartphone.3 In addition, the use of an array of digital health tools has increased in recent years. These include live video telemedicine, which went from 7% in 2015 to 32% in 2019; digital health tracking (2015, 18%; 2019, 42%); and wearable ownership (2015, 13%; 2019, 33%).2 Metrics that are tracked using wearable devices to manage conditions like heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and obesity include heart rate, blood pressure, weight, and blood sugar.

In traditional healthcare models, older patients may be more amenable to provide health data to their physician and request information on the nature of the data that were collected, compared with their younger counterparts.3 In contrast, younger individuals may be more open, compared with older patients, to share their data with healthcare technology companies.3 Individuals who have a health application (app) are thought to be more likely to let technology companies collect their health data, which may be used to identify conditions (eg, atrial fibrillation).4

ClickWell Care, which enables a technology-driven primary care model, was established and implemented at Stanford University.5 This model leverages the Stanford Health Care app, in which patients can access test results, book appointments, and contact their healthcare providers, among other services. The app also features an e-visit video function. Virtual visits delivered in such a manner were found to be more efficient, requiring less time and fewer additional visits, compared with phone or in-person visits. The app allows for “care that gets smarter as you use it,” around-the-clock access, and similar models can be adapted to a range of settings (eg, developing countries).5

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By increasing the use of digital health (eg, wearables and sensors), telehealth that is delivered in a sustainable manner allowing for fast scaling, and automated health, primary care is likely to evolve into an increasingly automated model in the coming years.

References

  1. Wang PJ. Will wearable technologies be integrated into cardiovascular care of the near future? Intended to be presented at: American College of Cardiology 69th Annual Scientific Session; March 28-30, 2020; Chicago, IL.
  2. RockHealth 2019 report. Accessed March 30, 2020. https://rockhealth.com/report-category/funding/
  3. Mobile fact sheet. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/fact-sheet/mobile/. Accessed March 30, 2020.
  4. Perez MV, Mahaffey KW, Hedlin H, et al. Large-scale assessment of a smartwatch to identify atrial fibrillation. N Engl J Med. 2019;381(20):1909-1917.
  5. Cheung L, Leung TI, Ding VY, et al. Healthcare service utilization under a new virtual primary care delivery model. Telemed J E Health. 2019;25(7):551-559.

This article originally appeared on The Cardiology Advisor