Apps launched for atrial fibrillation

New novel smartphone and tablet apps for people with atrial fibrillation and healthcare professionals have been launched by heart experts in collaboration with the University of Birmingham.

Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart rhythm disorder and significantly increases the risk of stroke and death. One in four middle aged adults in Europe and the US will develop atrial fibrillation, and its incidence and prevalence are rising.

The University of Birmingham reports that the apps, called My AF and AF Manager, were designed by the European Society of Cardiology Guidelines Task Force on Atrial Fibrillation and the CATCH ME consortium. The objectives and design of the apps were outlined in a paper published online in EP Europace, with a summary published in the European Heart Journal.

Lead author of both papers Dr Dipak Kotecha, of the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences at the University of Birmingham, said “Around two thirds of people in Europe and the US have a mobile device and use it as their main way of accessing online information. This presents a big opportunity to improve self-management and shared decision making in atrial fibrillation.”

My AF is for people with atrial fibrillation and provides information about the condition, treatments, and tips on improving lifestyle. People can record symptoms and quality of life in a diary which can be shared with a nominated health professional before each consultation to maximise face to face time. Developed in collaboration with people with atrial fibrillation and patient support groups, My AF is suitable for adults of all ages and work is now underway to translate it into several languages.

Dipak Kotecha said “The app aims to encourage active patient involvement in the management of their condition. There is evidence that patient education can improve self-care, adherence to therapy, and long-term outcomes.”

AF Manager is for doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals. It is the first app of its kind to be submitted for CE certification and is in the final stages of approval. AF Manager imports information shared by someone with atrial fibrillation and allows the healthcare professional to amend details and enter other medical information, such as electrocardiogram or echocardiography data. The Treatment Manager tool within the app then suggests individualised treatment options based on ESC guidelines. After a consultation, the notes, treatment decisions, and medication dosages can be entered and then shared with the person with atrial fibrillation.

Dipak Kotecha said “Many studies have shown that when clinicians follow guideline recommendations, patients have better outcomes. All of the decision aids in AF Manager are based on ESC guidelines so we hope this will encourage guideline implementation. Patients will have the option to anonymously donate their data which will enable us to assess the guideline adherence rate.”

The apps are linked to allow transfer of data between people with atrial fibrillation and healthcare professionals via a secure server at the University of Birmingham. They can control who can view and edit their data. When data sharing is enabled, updates are synced on both apps. All shared information is encrypted and password protected.

Dipak Kotecha said “We know that effective management of atrial fibrillation is suited to shared decision making and we have created the apps in the hope of facilitating this process. Sharing information should save clinicians time and enable them to devote consultations to choosing the best treatments. The dynamic nature of this technology will allow us to modify and update the features and content to reflect feedback from users, as well as future versions of the ESC atrial fibrillation guidelines.”

Both apps are free to download for Android and iOS devices through Google Play and Apple stores.

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