Putting the ‘Continuous’ in the Cardiac Care Continuum

By Stuart Long, CEO, InfoBionic
LinkedIn: Stuart Long
LinkedIn: InfoBionic, Inc.

Continuous monitoring, artificial intelligence, and the power of wearable technology to make cardiac care more human

Everyone knows someone affected by cardiac disease. Of course, we all recognize the risk factors: age, lifestyle, pre-existing conditions… But a quick read through the American Heart Association’s “Most Read Survivor Stories of 2023” tells a different story: that cardiac disease can strike swiftly and indiscriminately. That everyone knows someone.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of cardiac care remains reactive—after the symptoms begin, or worse, after a major event. This is partly due to the obtrusive and procedural nature of traditional approaches to remote cardiac monitoring.

In the past, Holter or Event monitors were provided to patients in the office. These methods required in-person visits for device setup and periodic data transmission, lacked flexibility in adapting the monitoring approach to patient need, and delayed clinician access to critical patient data due to these logistical hurdles. Fragmented information sharing and limited analytical capabilities added to the complexity. Worst of all, interface complexity and poor form factor left patients reluctant to use many monitors altogether.

These hurdles and others made truly robust cardiac monitoring impractical and necessarily excluded from standard primary and ambulatory care. That is, until now.

Enter Wearable Tech, Continuous Data, and AI-Enabled Analysis

A new era of cardiac care has emerged, where the barriers to data collection and analysis have been lowered, and clinicians are empowered to understand cardiac health comprehensively—not just for the high-risk but for everyone. This transformation was first prompted and continues to be accelerated by continuous data and AI-enabled analysis, which, when combined, increase the precision and practicality of remote cardiac monitoring.

Continuous data in cardiac telemetry is made possible by the near real-time monitoring of heart activity, which provides a consistent stream of clinical-grade data without gaps or latency. Data is collected by wearable cardiac devices worn discreetly on the body. Convenient and far less obtrusive than their predecessors, these advanced cardiac wearables transmit near real-time data to providers via wireless technology. The devices accompany the patient everywhere they go, providing a full picture of their heart health without requiring additional in-office visits.

Naturally, continuous data collection has increased the volume of available cardiac data exponentially. In the past, accessing and analyzing these vast data sets would overwhelm the clinician, eroding the opportunity for efficient diagnosis and early intervention. This is where AI-enabled analysis comes in. AI-enabled analysis can make sense of a monumental amount of data with exceptional granularity and detail. With the ability to detect patterns, anomalies, and subtleties that may go undetected by even the most skilled clinical eye, AI-enabled analysis paves the way to more proactive diagnoses and more personalized cardiac care.

A Scientific Reminder of an Undeniable Truth

At the center of truly personalized cardiac care is the recognition that patients are individuals. In a personalized care model, this recognition drives tailored diagnoses and treatments. As it turns out, our heartbeats are a biological reflection of our individuality, and a tangible reminder of why personalized cardiac care is so vitally important.

A study published in Scientific Reports highlights the use of ECG-based machine-learning algorithms for heartbeat classification, demonstrating the potential for these algorithms to identify individual heartbeats with a high degree of accuracy. In addition to demonstrating the highly personalized nature of the heartbeat, this research emphasizes the importance of precise feature extraction from ECG signals, including PR and RT durations, along with age and sex, to enable precise heart disease diagnoses.

The study’s success in training models using data from thousands of patients and achieving high classification accuracy underscores the potential for personalized cardiac monitoring and diagnosis. This development can revolutionize cardiac care, and in turn, cardiac outcomes. With its help, clinicians will one day be able to make our cardiac care as individualized as our heartbeats.

From Primary Care to Post-Operative Periods

Continuous monitoring and AI-enabled analysis can make robust cardiac understanding a standard aspect of primary care. But their utility doesn’t stop there. They are poised to transform the entire continuum of cardiac care—from standard primary care to diagnosis, disease management, and post operative recovery.

For example, these technologies enable early detection of latent conditions in low-risk populations by continuously monitoring heart activity and surfacing anomalies that occur outside a major cardiac event. For individuals with chronic conditions, continuous monitoring and AI-enabled analysis can provide near real-time insight into disease progression and treatment effectiveness, powering more individualized care plans.

These technologies also offer more rigorous preventative efforts for high-risk individuals by detecting subtle changes in heart function and identifying issues at their earliest possible stage, when the potential for a positive outcome is the greatest. In post-operative care, continuous monitoring and AI-enabled analysis allow the evaluation of a patient’s cardiac health after discharge to shorten hospital stays, rapidly detect complications, optimize recovery protocols, and reduce the likelihood of readmission.

The Irony of AI Technology: Enabling Healthcare to Become More Human

Empowered by streamlined wearables, truly continuous data, and AI-enabled analysis, clinicians have the insight needed to treat each patient as the individual they are.

From the single father with an undiagnosed cardiac condition, to the active adolescent with a congenital heart defect, to the grandmother recovering from a valve replacement—continuous monitoring and AI-enabled analysis have the power to bring personalized cardiac care to everyone. Then, and only then, can we address the significant human cost of heart failure so that our individual stories each have a better ending. For the team at InfoBionic, that’s what it’s all about.