| August 17, 2019

Portable ECG Monitor Usage on the Rise

Nqaba Matshazi

Nqaba has been working as an investigative journalist for the last 10 years. He has written for various media outlets across the world. Nqaba has been working as an investigative journalist for the last 10 years. He has written for various media outlets across the world.

The U.S. portable (electrocardiogram) ECG market is poised for massive growth, with up to 27 percent of Americans expected to own a wearable device by 2024.

In a statement, GlobalData said wearable devices were gaining traction with an estimated 13.8 percent of the U.S. population aged between 12 and 100 years owning a wrist-worn wearable in 2018. GlobalData expects that number to double over the coming five years.

Ashley Young, a medical device analyst at GlobalData, forecast that the wearable device market will achieve a compound annual growth rate of 12 percent between 2018 and 2024, driven by an increased focus on patient-centered, preventative healthcare.

Drivers of growth

With innovative technology companies such as Apple, AliveCor, Qardio and Withings now also manufacturing ECG monitoring devices, GlobalData, a data and analytics firm, expects the market to grow firmer.

 

“In 2012, AliveCor received FDA 510(k) clearance for its medical device and smartphone app combination that was designed to record, store, transfer and evaluate single-channel ECG readings. Since then, AliveCor has added more diagnostic functionality, and is FDA approved to detect atrial fibrillation (AFib), brachycardia and tachycardia. It is being sold across North America and Europe,” Young said in a statement.

Apple entered the portable, personal ECG market with its Apple Watch Series 4, which received FDA clearance for ECG functionality in 2018. Apple has been increasing its forays into healthcare, with its Chief Executive Officer, Tim Cook saying: “Apple’s largest contribution to mankind will be in improving people’s health and well-being.”

“The advantage of Apple’s device is its integration with other built-in health features such as an activity tracker, a fall detector and a menstrual tracker. However, since it is newer to the market, the Apple Watch ECG function is currently only commercially available in the US and some countries in Europe, with further global releases planned in the future,” Young said.

ECG tests are carried out to detect heart abnormalities. With portable ECGs, patients are able to self-monitor the heart’s electrical activity. But GlobalData was quick to point out that “these ECGs will not replace doctor’s visits until technology improves and more clinical evidence has been gathered for data accuracy.”

One of the biggest growth drivers for the portable ECG market is America’s ageing population, which is focused on preventative healthcare.

What other reports say about the ECG market

Overall, the outlook is bright for the U.S. ECG market. A different report by Grand View Research has projected that the market will grow to $2.8 billion by 2026. The report says growth will be driven by a rise in the prevalence of cardiovascular diseases in the U.S., availability of various monitoring devices, and technological advancements.

The report projects that the Holter monitor segment is expected to witness the fastest growth rate between 2019 and 2026 thanks to the portability of the devices, their cost-effectiveness and their ability to record the heart’s electrical activity for a longer duration.

Globally, the ECG monitoring market is expected to leap to $7.4 billion by 2024, as per yet another report. The ReportBuyer report also attributes the growth to technological advancements, such as portability.

Cause for concern?

Although technological advances, particularly with portable devices and wearables have been seen as revolutionary, physicians have in the past expressed some disquiet, warning that some devices could lead to unnecessary anxiety, which could see users of wearables clogging physicians’ waiting rooms.

The Apple Watch Series 4, which was launched last year has sensors capable of conducting an ECG and an app that analyzes pulse rates. It is also able to warn a user of a possible serious heart condition called atrial fibrillation (AFib). But physicians warn that AFib is difficult to diagnose. 

With the rise of wearable technology, physicians fear a data overload, which could lead to physician burnout.


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