Kardia is one of only two commercially-available, FDA-cleared mobile-phone operated ECG products–the other is the Apple Watch. And Kardia is currently the only ECG product that works with Android. AliveCor has sold hundreds of thousands of its Kardia units, and its products are used by almost every single cardiovascular center in the United States.
Otherwise known as an electrocardiogram, ECG tests are primarily designed to check for signs of heart disease. The process is completely painless, and it records the electrical activity of the heart with electrode sensors. Kardia mobile integrates with smartphones and allows patients to take an ECG test wherever and whenever it’s convenient.
AliveCor has reportedly sold hundreds of thousands of Kardia units so far. Aside from selling Kardia units to cardiovascular clinics across America, AliveCor is also quickly expanding into the individual consumer market. AliveCor founder Dr. David E. Albert says that most of his customers are over the age of 50. This represents an untapped market of seniors who previously were not tech-savvy enough to use smartphones.
Indeed, Dr. Albert admitted: “When I started the company around 2010 and 2011, people told me that Medicare-age seniors over 65 didn’t use smartphones and that I was wasting my time.” At that point, only 10-15% of seniors were actively using smartphones, but today the situation has completely changed. With smartphones in the hands of seniors who actually know how to use them, products like Kardia represent totally new territory for startups and shrewd investors.
Qualcomm, the world’s leading wireless chip manufacturer, believed in Kardia even in the early days. The San Diego chip maker realized the day would eventually come when seniors used smartphones just as much as any other segment of the population. Today, Qualcomm is one of AliveCor’s biggest investors along with Mayo Clinic.
Kardia’s main selling point is the fact that it allows cardiovascular patients to provide their healthcare providers with more data. As Dr. Albert explained to Disruptive Nation, “As a heart patient, you can have a problem anywhere, anytime. You can capture those events and communicate them to your physician in a very timely fashion.” He went on to highlight Atrial Fibrillation, a common heart issue that affects millions of Americans. He states that Kardia enables patients with this cardiovascular disease to ensure their physicians “have the information they need to take the best care of you they can.”
With AliveCor’s app, a smartphone can become a high-quality, mobile Electrocardiogram. Users can either connect their phones to a sleek case with protruding electrodes or affix an iCard. Patients have the option to place both hands on the device or place their smartphone directly on their chest for a clear and accurate reading.
After a minute or two of setup, the Kardia app records 300 electrical samples per second. The user doesn’t need to operate any buttons or switches, and everything is completely automatic. The app displays real-time heart activity, including beats per minute, and the results are instantly saved to the cloud for retrieval by either the patient or his physician.
Two separate clinical studies at The University of Oklahoma are reviewing the potential effectiveness of Kardia units and AliveCor’s technology. The research is being led by experts who have reviewed thousands of ECGs from hundreds of patients over the course of their careers.
AliveCor’s revenue model is diversified, as revenue is expected to include sales from its proprietary phone cases, iCards, and many additional analysis tools.
The COVID-19 pandemic has notably increased the demand for telemedicine products. As David Albert noted, “We have had dramatic growth in our business because of the growth of telemedicine. When the COVID pandemic hit, the use of telemedicine skyrocketed.”
Kardia is just one example of a rising trend towards telemedicine. Dr. Albert believes that there are many other smartphone devices that could potentially help individuals pursue better health. He specifically mentioned a pulse oximeter, which is a useful device that currently sees plenty of use across America during the COVID-19 pandemic because it measures blood oxygen levels. Currently, AliveCor is focusing on the newly-released Kardia 6L, a more advanced version of Kardia.
Dr. Albert is hopeful about the digitization of healthcare, stating: “I think these devices will enable better remote care. And better remote care means that they can stay at home. They don’t have to go to a nursing home. They don’t have to go into assisted living. And they can stay safer and live a good life, longer.”
Dr. Albert stopped short of saying Kardia could extend people’s lifespans. However, he did concede that, “Theoretically, smartphones will help people live longer lives.”
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