Wrist-Worn Devices are Shown by MGH Researchers to be Cost-Effective for Screening of Atrial Fibrillation

A study simulating a population of 30 million people 65 and older found that wrist-wearable devices are more cost-effective than traditional electrocardiograms and pulse palpation for atrial fibrillation (AF) screening, and that they are associated with a reduction in stroke incidence.

August 24, 2022 —  Screening individuals for atrial fibrillation (AF) using wearable devices is more cost-effective than screening using conventional methods such as 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG) and pulse palpation, or than no screening at all, researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) have found. 

In a study in JAMA Health Forum, the team reported that use of contemporary wrist-worn wearables was also associated with a reduction in stroke incidence and could help to detect less frequent AF episodes through its ability to monitor for potentially irregular heart rhythm on a near-continuous basis. 

“The proliferation of wrist-worn devices for AF detection provides a convenient option for population-wide screening, though it’s not known if their use will lead to increased costs and problems related to follow-up testing and false positives,” says co-senior author Jagpreet Chhatwal, PhD, director of the MGH Institute for Technology Assessment. 

“We therefore simulated a virtual trial comparing clinical and cost outcomes under different AF screening strategies, and showed that those using wrist-worn devices generally resulted in greater benefits compared to traditional modalities, and at a cost deemed affordable to the healthcare system.” 

Another possible avenue of exploration is suggested by co-first author and research scientist Wanyi Chen, PhD: “If wrist-worn devices are more cost-effective, does it then make sense for insurance providers to facilitate even wider deployment by helping to defray the cost for consumers?”

Read the entire article at Diagnostic and Interventional Cardiology

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