iRhythm Technologies were recently announced as the winner of the Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award. First of all, for those that don’t know, what sort of criteria allows you to be considered for the AI award?
To be considered for the AI award, you need to produce technology with the potential to meet the aims set out in the NHS Long Term Plan. The AI Awards looks at technologies across a spectrum of development stages, from concept through to initial system adoption. Zio fits into this last category and the AI awards funding will allow evaluation and validation of the Zio service regarding clinical and economic impact.
Zio by iRhythm is a small, discreet and easy-to-use cardiac monitoring service, used to detect a range of arrhythmias quickly and accurately. The AI Awards recognises that Zio has the potential to prove hugely beneficial to patients and to the NHS, relieving pressure on staff, and reducing wait times for patients seeking a diagnosis.
Why do you think iRhythm were chosen as winners of the AI award?
The primary reason is the potential for Zio by iRhythm to support the NHS in the diagnosis and treatment of arrhythmias more efficiently and effectively than the current standard of care. Around 1m people in the UK have Atrial Fibrillation (AF), one of the most common types of arrhythmia which increases the risk of having a stroke. It is predicted that half a million people have undiagnosed AF.
Zio is already supporting many patients and clinicians globally in achieving an accurate and timely diagnosis. Through the Zio service, cardiac monitoring has the potential to improve many inefficiencies in diagnosing arrhythmias. Zio is a proven technology with over 30 peer reviewed publications, this award means that Zio can be evaluated for larger scale adoption, giving the potential to benefit many more patients across the NHS
The award is given to technologies who are perceived to be in the best position to meet the aims set out in the NHS Long Term Plan, which of those aims do iRhythm meet?
iRhythm has the potential to specifically address the following aims from the NHS Long Term Plan:
- Reduce morbidity and death from cardiovascular disease by early identification and management of people with risk factors for CVD, such as atrial fibrillation (AF).
- Assists the ambition to expand virtual clinics, enabling efficient access to care for hard-to-reach patient populations.
More broadly; The Long Term Plan “sets the NHS’s priorities for care quality and outcomes improvement for the decade ahead, outlines how current workforce pressures will be tackled, and staff supported along with utilising digitally enabled care for a financially sustainable future”
Combine the ambitions of NHS Long Term Plan with NHSX mission to “Reduce the burden on clinicians and staff, so they can focus on patients and improve NHS productivity with digital technology”; the AI Awards provides a great route for funding to enable the evaluation and testing of digitally enhanced technologies that meet the NHS’s aims and focus.
Part of the award is funding – how will patients benefit from additional resources being made available to iRhythm?
The AAC will work with NHS sites to support their adoption of Zio, then stress test and evaluate the Zio service within routine clinical or operational pathways to determine their efficacy and accuracy, as well as their clinical and economic impact. The process will inform any future commissioning decisions around widespread adoption in the NHS, therefore the potential to benefit many more patients in the future.
Given the recent circumstances with Covid-19, has this had any impact on ZIO?
Demand for the Zio service has increased rapidly in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. During COVID-19 ‘access to care’ became almost wholly digital as patients, many vulnerable, simply stayed at home. As a result, more importance was placed on modern technologies than ever before. Healthcare professionals and health tech providers were forced to be creative, reimagining long-established ways of delivering their services. This has driven a surge in the adoption of proven innovations.
For iRhythm this meant we had to pivot the business model to provide a fully remote cardiac monitoring service. Meaning patients do not need to visit the hospital to have their monitor fitted, this can be done at home, by the patient, while still providing comprehensive monitoring of a patient’s heartbeat as they go about their daily lives.
Whether this is need for the product, or the accessibility for both patients and doctors. What’s next for iRhythm?
Next for us is working with the selected sites to support the implementation of the Zio service. For many months we have partnered with trusts, CCG’s and networks to ensure pathways and protocols are fully mapped. Supporting the next phase of implementation is vital in ensuring patients have access to Zio quickly and that hospital systems can utilise the efficiencies Zio presents. Following this; there is a thorough evaluation process and a chance to really prove Zio’s value; from a patient care perspective through to the efficiencies presented for clinicians and the healthcare system.
In a wider sense: iRhythm in recent months has scaled its UK operations to meet the demands of the NHS, creating a European base for iRhythm in the UK. We continue to scale as a reflection of the success, and a need for the Zio service throughout the UK.
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