HRS, CTA pen consumer guidelines for CV wearables

The Heart Rhythm Society (HRS) and Consumer Technology Association (CTA) will debut new consumer guidelines this week focused on wearables that detect and monitor cardiovascular metrics.

Digital health devices, including smartwatches, fitness trackers and blood pressure monitors, dominated the last decade in cardiology, and an ever-growing body of new gadgets suggests the sector won’t be slowing down anytime soon. The CTA said in a release it expects revenue from such devices to reach $10 billion in 2020—up 16% from last year.

“Digital health is changing lives for the better, providing personalized care and lowering costs,” Lesley Rohrbaugh, director of market research for the CTA, said in a statement. “Wearable devices are one of the fastest-growing sectors in tech and as more consumers capture more personal health information with wearables, a cross industry-created guidance document has never been more important.”

Physicians have expressed concern in the past that the hype surrounding wearables could lead to some chaos in the medical world. Speaking last March, after Apple released its ECG-capable smartwatch, nuclear cardiologist Venk Murthy, MD, said that logically, the technology would lead to “a lot of false positives.” The Apple Watch has certainly helped some users catch undiagnosed atrial fibrillation, but even when a test is relatively accurate, Murthy said, applying it to a large, low-risk population could result in too many red flags.

The CTA and HRS guidance document will reportedly cover some of those concerns, including when to contact a doctor about abnormal results from a wearable device. Some critics have worried that people will take even the slightest abnormalities to their doctors, elevating patient stress, promoting physician burnout and encouraging unnecessary spending and testing.

The CTA/HRS Guidance for Wearable Health Solutions will also feature an overview of the wearables landscape, recommended best practices for consumers and a wealth of FAQs. The document was reviewed by physicians, nurses, patient advocates, tech companies and healthcare organizations and is slated for presentation Jan. 9 at CES 2020 in Las Vegas.

“In this document we aimed to highlight this new intersection between consumer tech and health,” Nassir Marrouche, lead author of the guidelines, said in a statement. “We want people to be aware of what these wearables have to offer, how they can increase knowledge about one’s health and how clinicians are optimistic about the data wearables can deliver.”

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