Wearable technology, remote patient monitoring & cardiovascular disease

I. De Backer
United Kingdom

Keywords: cardiovascular disease, wearable, remote patient monitoring, blood pressure, smart clothing, medical devices, ECG, sensor, electrode, skin patch, optical, healthcare, connected device, digital health


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number 1 killer globally. Over 17 million individuals per year die from this disease and, despite substantial advancements in medicine in the last few decades, this figure is expected to rise to over 23 million by 2030. CVD also represents a great strain on healthcare systems worldwide, costing over £10 billion and $500 billion each year to the UK and US economy, respectively. The prevalence and cost of CVD mean that there is an urgent need for solutions to improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment. RPM is emerging as a key approach to improve standards of healthcare and better manage CVD. It allows the monitoring of CVD patients outside of conventional clinical settings, which is highly advantageous if the patient is too unwell to travel. Predominantly based on connected medical equipment, this solution provides medical staff with access to patient data in real time. It enables patient care from a distance, meaning that healthcare professionals do not necessarily need to examine their patients in person. RPM has the potential to relieve overburdened medical staff, avoid unnecessary patient visits, simplify patient-doctor interactions and enable patients to recover at home instead of the hospital, which considerably reduces treatment costs. Wearable medical devices lend themselves well to the purpose of RPM. They are non-invasive, safe and cheaper than many other approaches. They are easily altered or removed if anything goes wrong, tend to be accessible to patients and don’t restrict patients to a bed or confined area. Wearable technology comes in various forms such as skin patches, wearable accessories (eg: smartwatches, necklaces, rings) and smart clothing. These form factors are highly suited to the monitoring of CVD patients as they can easily and comfortably be applied on the chest or limbs for extended periods of time, thereby providing a strong signal for accurate monitoring of key cardiovascular parameters like heart rate and blood pressure. In addition, they enable readings to be taken anywhere at any time, thereby providing patients with a greater level of freedom than ever before. Ambulatory, wearable cardiac monitoring fills a key gap between in-patient cardiac monitoring (accurate, safe, non-ambulatory, expensive) and implantable cardiac monitors (accurate, less safe, ambulatory, expensive). This presentation will describe the value that RPM brings to CVD patient care. It will highlight various form factors of emerging wearable CVD technologies for RPM, discuss their current limitations and explore future opportunities of this multi-billion-dollar market.