A small device that monitors heart activity, sending the results to specialists in Florida, could improve health outcomes for cardiac patients in Cayman.
HSA Consultant Cardiologist Dr. Kevin Coy has been piloting the technology with patients at the Cayman Islands Hospital. It is the first time the technology has been tried in the Caribbean.
He told a HSA medical conference Friday the device has the potential to deliver dramatic cost saving to these Islands by reducing the number of cardiac related air-ambulance transfers to hospitals abroad.
Early diagnosis will not just reduce air-ambulance transfers, it will allow for better patient outcomes, he said.
Mr. Coy now plans to move beyond the pilot programme and incorporate the technology into mainstream cardiac care in the Cayman Islands.
The device monitors the electrical activity of the heart by giving an electrocardiogram reading.
The patient’s demographic information, their normal ECG and acceptable anomalies are recorded at the monitoring station, while the patient is issued the device and trained how to use it.
Any time a patient feels an onset of symptoms they can record their heart’s activity and then transmit it over a landline or cell phone to a 24/7 monitoring station in Florida.
There it is analysed by a specialist, who can decide on an immediate course of action for the patient. ‘In some cases, it could mean we can put in place a care program for the patient while they are on the way to the hospital,’ he said.
The device has a unique potential to improve cardiac outcomes throughout Caribbean countries, many of which are too small to support the establishment of cardiac catheterization labs.
Cardiac disease is the leading cause of death in the Cayman Islands and throughout the non-Hispanic Caribbean.
In addition to reducing air-ambulance transfers, the device could cut the number of unnecessary visits patients worried about their heart condition make to the hospital.
A 12 month evaluation of an ECG service in Cumbria and Lancashire, in the UK, showed that of 10,000 patients using the technology, 85 per cent of the patients did not need to be hospitalised at all. Without ECG testing, 57 per cent of those patients would have been referred to the hospital.
Mr. Coy told the conference the device and monitoring service is very cost effective.
Private patients pay $200 per week to use the device and the monitoring services that accompany it. Public patients, such as those insured through CINICO pay $100 per week. When the patient no longer needs the device, it is returned to the hospital.
‘It gives the patient peace of mind to know their information is being communicated in a timely fashion to the specialist,’ Mr. Coy said.
Mr. Coy’s presentation was part of an annual collaborative medical conference organised by the HSA and Jackson Memorial Hospital International, Florida, which ran from Friday through to Sunday at the Marriot Beach Resort.