AliveCor Uses AI to Get into the Heart of the Matter
In India, cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of mortality. In recent months, however, due to the advent of technology in the country and also as a result of the pandemic, healthcare has seen a surge in the use of telemedicine and other advanced technologies for monitoring health, especially for heart-related problems. In support of the government’s initiative to leverage the power of technology to create a healthier India, AliveCor, a US-based medical device and artificial intelligence (AI) company that sells electrocardiogram (ECG) solutions for consumer mobile devices, has recently made its entry into the Indian market to proactively manage heart health remotely.
In a recent interaction with CXOToday, Ira Bahr, Chief Commercial Officer, AliveCor, talks about the use of technologies such as AI for heart healthcare, why the company sees a strong growth potential in the India market and how the launch of its new offering KardiaMobile that can quickly detect and manage cardiac issues, can be a game-changer in a price-sensitive market like India.
Please tell us something about AliveCor and the company’s journey so far.
Founded in 2011 in the Silicon Valley, we are an FDA-cleared ECG technology company, with a presence in 37 countries, including India now. Today, our devices are the most clinically-validated in the world. With our technology, patients can record their ECG in just 30 seconds using a smartphone. Since our devices are small and don’t require any patches or wires, people can take them wherever they go and record an ECG the moment they feel a symptom. This ability to record heart rhythms and then share that data with physicians is critical for not only disease management, but prevention as well.
Currently, we have close to one million users globally who have recorded over 80 million ECGs to-date. That’s a huge amount of data. We use that data to continually update our machine learned algorithms. With the burden of cardiovascular disease increasing around the world, our technology is making heart care more accessible, affordable, and convenient than it’s ever been before. We are excited to continue expanding our global footprint and aim to play a major role in transforming cardiology worldwide.
How can you differentiate your key offering KardiaMobile with a traditional ECG machine? Would the efficiency level be similar?
Our devices are superior in all key areas: clinically, technologically, and from an affordability perspective. AliveCor products are the most clinically-validated personal ECGs in the world. Our investments in research and clinical studies at leading medical centers have resulted in more than 100 peer-reviewed studies and have allowed us to offer the most reliable medical-grade personal ECGs out there. Data matters in healthcare, and no similar products in the world can come close to what we are offering in this area.
Another area that sets AliveCore apart is our technology. KardiaMobile 6L is the first and only FDA-cleared, 6-lead personal ECG device in the world. More lead means more data and a more detailed view of your heart. Most importantly, KardiaMobile 6L records Lead II, which allows physicians to identify a far broader range of heart conditions than are visible on Lead I. Our devices also detect Atrial Fibrillation at heart rates above 120 and below 50, something that, for example, Apple Watch cannot do.
Finally, these devices are available over-the-counter at just a fraction of the cost of similar devices. The KardiaMobile 6L is priced at INR 14000 and KardiaMobile is priced at INR 8500. I bet, you simply won’t find other FDA-cleared personal ECGs, with the mountain of clinical validation we have, at these prices.
To make us understand the technology better, can you explain how does it work and how does a patient store and share the data?
We have designed our technology to be intuitive. Users simply place their fingers on each of the top electrodes and then place the bottom electrode on their left knee or ankle. By creating this configuration, the device will capture a 6-lead ECG, providing doctors with six times the data of a single-lead ECG. The recording takes just 30 seconds and users receive instant analysis right on their phone. ECGs are stored locally on the user’s phone and can be shared with their doctor via email, text, or through our physician portal, KardiaPro.
Do you think this device would be successful in India, where technology enabled healthcare is limited to only urban population?
Actually, making technology-enabled healthcare available outside urban areas is part of why we think we will be successful in India. There’s a large portion of the population that lives in more remote areas, where it can take over an hour to get to a doctor or hospital. But with our devices, people can track critical heart data from their own home—whether urban or rural. And, they can send their ECG directly to their physician right from their phone. Our expansion into India is really a big step toward making healthcare more accessible for those in need, wherever they are.
How do you intend to make the device popular and accessible to an average Indian? Are you looking at government or private partnerships?
The device bears utmost value for a country like India where specialized healthcare accessibility is a concern in remote locations to allow patients, doctors and care givers to accurately and possible abnormal heart rhythms. Our devices are available over the counter, so there’s no need to jump through hoops to get one. You can buy KardiaMobile6L easily online at the AliveCor website or at Amazon. And yes, we are always looking to build partnerships. As far as working with the Indian government or private entities, we are exploring every possible path to get these valuable devices into the hands of as many Indians as we can.
What is the clinical advantage of the AI-based heart health devices and how would it help Indian patients get perfect diagnosis without visiting a hospital?
Only a physician can give a “diagnosis.” One of the biggest clinical advantages of AI-based heart health is its speed and efficiency. Our devices use machine learning to detect the three most common arrhythmias—atrial fibrillation, bradycardia, and tachycardia—with 98% sensitivity and 97% specificity. This gives patients and physicians a fast and highly reliable indication as to what might be happening.
What is your future roadmap?
At AliveCore, we have only scratched the surface on where we can take our technology. We have a lot of new products and developments in the pipeline to help improve the standard of heart care in India and beyond. Over the last few months in the midst of the pandemic, we have accelerated our focus on doctors, researchers, and other healthcare professionals—and it’s something we will continue to do. We have partnered with leading clinical trial companies that help organizations continue trials remotely, a big need during COVID-19. We are also exploring how our technology can help life sciences companies in other ways, and of course strengthening our services for hospitals.
We know that our expansion into other global markets like India will be a large part of the future of AliveCor, and we are really looking forward to what’s next.