Which cardiology technologies are shaking up the health industry?

girl running with cardiac monitor

The health industry, like any other sphere of modern life, has not gone untouched by the tech revolution, especially computerized tech. In fact, the health industry has seen some amazing tech advances that were unimaginable 15-20 years ago. Video-guided heart surgeries are now a common thing helping doctors across the world collaborate on complex medical procedures. Here are some cardio related technologies that will have a big impact in the next few years.

1. Wearable heart monitors

While wearable heart monitors have been largely a thing for fitness enthusiasts, these gadgets are very useful for people with cardio problems. Heart rate monitors are increasingly collecting more data than simple heartbeat tracking. Fitted with artificial intelligence, today’s heart monitor can make recommendations on physical activity or connect to emergency services in the case of a cardio problem.

Wearable heart monitors of today work in two main different ways; optical heart monitors read cardio information by sending a light signal into the skin. The reflected signal carries data that is computed and displayed. These type of heart monitors are mostly wrist and ear wearable.

The second type works by reading electrical signals on the skin. These are usually worn on the chest. These types of heart monitors are considered more accurate because there is less ‘noise’ between the skin and the heart monitor.

Wearable heart monitors will become more intelligent enabling easier care for people with heart problems. They will integrate more with fitness and diet apps to make lifestyle adjustments for the wearer.

2. Graphical User Interface

While computing technology has been in use in cardiology for quite a long time, data capture has always been a challenge. Errors in data capture lead to incorrect data utilization and reporting errors which usually inform incorrect procedures.

Advances in GUI have seen the rise of auto-feeding GUI. These systems eliminate human data capture by automatically populating required data fields. The data is then checked for acceptability before it’s processed.

Some of the vendors who are pioneering such systems include Philips Medical (Xper Flex Cardio), GE Healthcare (Mac-Lab), and Siemens (Sensis Vibe).

3. Smaller and wireless implantable EP devices

Conventional EP devices come with challenges in needing surgical pockets and venous leads for pacemakers. With these devices becoming smaller and wireless, catheter-based implant procedures will become possible.

Wearable tech will also eliminate the need for conventional Holter monitors in favor of patient wearable monitors. In fact, many of the wearable heart monitors today share the same display screen with other apps in the gadget, allowing the wearer to bring up data as needed.

4. Internet remote monitoring of EP devices

Wireless EP devices are able to link to smartphones and onwards to the internet. This has presented obvious advantages in enabling 24/7 monitoring of people with cardio problems. Cardiologists can be automatically alerted when there is an emergency, even if the patient is not aware that a problem is building up. Remote monitoring also comes with easier administrative procedures as patients do not have to physically come in for examinations.

Internet-enabled implanted devices will also come with a risk of abuse from cyber threats. This has been a major concern by health authorities like the US FDA. Cardiologists and health institutions will have to beef up their information security procedures to protect patient data and information from malicious hackers.

5. Advanced echocardiography

The 2016 American College of Cardiology showcased echocardiography machines that are getting smaller and more portable. These machines are becoming more capable thanks to advanced software solutions. Good examples include the Mindray’s M9 and Toshiba’s Aplio 500. These two equipment have improved speckle tissue tracking. They have improved analysis of cardiac images. They also come with capabilities in strain imaging. These advances will have useful applications in reading myocardial function and cardiotoxicity management.

6. Better ultrasound and 3D imaging

The continued usage of high radiation in CT and cath lab angiography remains a challenge in health institutions. Safer solutions are being found in transesophageal echo (TEE) and 3D imaging ultrasound.  Techniques such as 3D echo and pre-procedural angiography are expected to cut procedure times while MRI will be deployed for long procedures, eliminating the use of radiation.

Integrating 3D imaging to EMR, PACS/CVIS systems will allow more accurate and common use of 3D printing technology. This will come with obvious advantages in the easier planning of cardiology procedures.

IT advancement is playing a big role in easing cardiology procedures, giving more accurate and detailed data, and reducing patient discomfort during procedures. It is expected that advances in technology advances will open up even more unexpected frontiers.