HumanInsight Use of digital health applications for the detection of atrial fibrillation
Herzschrittmacherther Elektrophysiol. 2022 Aug 12. doi: 10.1007/s00399-022-00888-2. Online ahead of print.
The advances in health care technologies over the last decade have led to improved capabilities in the use of digital health applications (DiHA) for the detection of atrial fibrillation (AFib). Thus, home-based remote heart rhythm monitoring is facilitated by smartphones or smartwatches alone or combined with external sensors. The available products differ in terms of type of application (wearable vs. handheld) and the technique used for rhythm detection (electrocardiography [ECG] vs. photoplethysmography [PPG]). While ECG-based algorithms often require additional sensors, PPG utilizes techniques integrated in smartphones or smartwatches. Algorithms based on artificial intelligence allow for the automated diagnosis of AFib, enabling high diagnostic accuracy for both ECG-based and PPG-based DiHA. Advantages for clinical use result from the widespread accessibility of rhythm monitoring, thereby permitting earlier diagnosis and higher AFib detection rates. DiHA are also useful for the follow-up of patients with known AFib by monitoring the success of therapeutic interventions to restore sinus rhythm, e.g. catheter ablation. Although some studies strongly suggest a potential benefit for the use of DiHA in the setting of AFib, the overall evidence for an improvement in hard, clinical endpoints and positive effects on clinical care is scarce. To enhance the acceptance of DiHA use in daily practice, more studies evaluating their clinical benefits for the detection of AFib are required. Moreover, most of the applications are still not reimbursable, although the German Digital Health Care Act (Digitale-Versorgung-Gesetz, DVG) made reimbursement possible in principle in 2019.
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