AirStrip Technologies has rolled out a cardiology application for Apple's iPad and iPhone, called AirStrip Cardiology, which allows doctors to access patient heart readings on the go.
AirStrip Cardiology draws on a continuous flow of ECG (electrocardiogram) data from GE Healthcare's Muse Cardiology Information System, a cloud database hospitals use to track and store patients' heart data. Muse measures hundreds of thousands of ECGs, warehouses the ECG data, and allows doctors to access it either in the hospital or remotely.
AirStrip chose to work with GE because of its leadership in cardiology equipment, Dr. Cameron Powell, president and chief medical officer at San Antonio, Texas-based AirStrip, told eWEEK.
Allowing doctors and clinicians to access ECG readings remotely could increase the speed of patient care.
Previously, physicians would use ECG images from faxes or PDFs on PCs, with the possibility of distortion, yielding potentially inaccurate readings.
"If somebody faxes you something, oftentimes the quality of what I'm looking at isn't enough to make a diagnostic conclusion," David Ataide, vice president and general manager of patient care solutions at GE Healthcare, told eWEEK.
Using the interactive touch-screen Apple iOS interface on iPhones and iPads, however, physicians can zoom in on the waveforms without affecting the readings' visual clarity, as they would when zooming in on a fax.
Changes as small as 0.5 millimeters are precise enough to show serious changes to the heart.
"Viewing near-real-time ECG data from any location, as well as a complete database of prior ECGs, is an incredibly powerful way to increase accuracy of diagnosis," Mark Peterman, an interventional cardiologist on the medical staff at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano, said in a statement. Texas Health is an early adopter of the AirStrip Cardiology application, which the FDA approved in 2010.
Clinicians can view current data as well as readings up to a year old in 10-second increments.
Within AirStrip Cardiology, announced on April 4, doctors can use the serial comparison feature to overlay current and past ECGs, Ataide said.
If a doctor learns that a patient has chest pain, the physician can log in to AirStrip Cardiology and check a real-time ECG reading before making a diagnosis.
With more than 90 percent of physicians already holding a smartphone, AirStrip Cardiology should achieve wide adoption, according to Ataide.
"I don't think the average cardiologist that's going to be using this will require any training," Ataide said.
Meanwhile, AirStrip firmly vouched for the security of the AirStrip Cardiology application.
"The AirStrip platform, regardless of product, is arguably the most secure mobile application on the market," Powell said.
"Especially with the FDA and some of the standards we abide by, we had to create security protocols beyond what is just available on these devices," he explained.
"Whether it's multiple layers of encryption or multifactor authentication protocols, we have built all that ourselves and built that into our applications. We have a combination of really secure data transmission without sacrificing speed and usability for the doctors," Powell said.
For physicians, being able to use single sign-on was important, according to Powell.
If a clinician were to lose their iPhone or iPad, the current session would be viewable, but nothing would be stored, he noted.
"No data is ever stored on the device, and that's probably the most commonly asked security question," Powell said.
"There's a very detailed audit trail of when they logged on, what was the user name and password and cell phone signal required," Powell said, noting the amount of information health companies must provide for reporting and accountability.
With doctors already using iPhones and iPads to check stocks or book a flight, providing an application such as AirStrip Cardiology was a seamless environment to turn to, according to Powell. Doctors have an "insatiable" need to have easy mobile access to data such as ECG readings, he explained.
"Doctors and nurses are wanting to use these devices already," Powell said. "They're using them already to manage a whole host of areas of their life."
iTunes currently carries a demonstration version of AirStrip Cardiology, and physicians can purchase the working application through GE. An Android version will follow.