Hospitals trial AI-backed technology to speed up arrhythmia diagnosis


Hospitals in England are trialling remote monitoring technology from iRhythm Technologies—Zio XT—which is designed to aid the detection of arrhythmias supported by artificial intelligence.

Typically patients experiencing symptoms of an arrhythmia would need to go to hospital for 24 hours of monitoring using a traditional Holter ECG monitor for a diagnosis to be made—known as ambulatory cardiac monitoring.

As part of the pilot, which is being funded by NHS AI in Health and Care Award, patients at Liverpool Heart and Chest, Barts, Bristol Southmead, East Kent and Gloucestershire hospitals are being fitted with the Zio XT, which is worn for up to 14 days and returned for analysis.

Using AI and iRhythm’s team of cardiac physiologists weeks of data can be analysed to diagnose a range of arrhythmias. According to the company, this allows patients to be treated faster without the burden of repeat testing, reducing pressure on hospital resources in the process.

Since January 2021, more than 2,000 patients in Liverpool alone have utilised the service. At this hospital where the technology has been piloted the waiting list for an ECG test from around six weeks to just a matter of days, according to iRhythm. There has also been a reduction in the number of referrals for more invasive and costly diagnostic procedures, the company says, likely because patients are diagnosed more accurately with the Zio technology.

Commenting on the pilot, consultant cardiologist Jay Wright (Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital, Liverpool, UK), said: “We are delighted to have been one of the first trusts in England to use iRhythm’s Zio XT technology at scale. We believe that this has significantly improved patient outcomes across the trust, as patients with undiagnosed and unmanaged heart rhythm conditions are much more likely to have recurrent symptoms such as blackouts or palpitations and some may even progress to a stroke. We see this service as a fantastic new tool in our efforts to prevent this.”

Dan Bamford, deputy director at the Accelerated Access Collaborative which manages the AI Award, said: “We’re pleased to be supporting iRhythm and their Zio XT service through the NHS Artificial Intelligence in Health Award. As one of the programmes in the AI Lab, it’s helping deliver our ambition of giving more patients access to the latest AI technologies that can improve their care.”

Sandrine Moirez, SVP GM International at iRhythm, added: “iRhythm is incredibly excited to be working with Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital, and a number of other trusts across the UK, to bring our Zio XT service to heart patients. Patients will now benefit from the greater speed and accuracy of diagnosis that our service enables, which is essential as the NHS tries to reduce the patient backlog and treat cardiovascular conditions more effectively.”


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