The Skeptical Cardiologist is a strong proponent of empowering patients with atrial fibrillation by utilizing personal cardiac rhythm devices such as Afib Alert or AliveCor’s Kardia.
I’ve written about my experiences with the initial versions of the Kardia mobile ECG device and the service it provides here and here.
I have been monitoring dozens of my afib patients using AliveCor’s Physician Dashboard.
Recently AliveCor changed fundamentally the way their app works such that for new users much of the functionality I described in my previous posts now requires subscribing to their Premium service which costs $9.99 per month or $99 per year.
What Has Changed With The Kardia App
The Kardia device which works with both iOs and Android smart
phones is unchanged and still generates a “medical-grade” single lead rhythm strips which appears within the Kardia app.
The app still is reasonably accurate at identifying atrial fibrillation or normal heart rhythms and offers a fee-based service for interpretation of unclassified ECGs.
However, for new purchasers of Kardia, the capability to access, email or print prior ECG recordings has gone away. Prior to March of this year, Kardia users could access prior ECG tracings which were stored in the cloud by touching the “Journal” button on the app. These older tracings could be emailed and they were available through the cloud for a physician like myself to review at any time.
Now new Kardia purchasers will find that when they make an ECG recording they have the option to email a PDF of the ECG but once they hit the DONE button it is gone and is not stored anywhere.
For my patients purchasing after March, 2017 this means that unless they purchase Kardia Premium service I will not be able to view their ECG recordings online.
An AliveCor account executive summarized for me the changes as follows:
We added a significant number of features over the past year and a half, and grandfathered all users on March 16th, 2017. New users now have the option to download and use Kardia for free, but the premium services are $9.99/mo or $99/year. Kardia Premium allows unlimited storage and history of their EKGs, summary reports with longitudinal data, blood pressure monitoring and tracking weight and medication.
Why Journal Functionality Is Important
If you purchased your AliveCor/Kardia device prior to March 16th, 2017 ago the journal functionality still works. Let’s call such customers “Journal Grandfathered”.
This Journal functionality is important in a number of ways:
- My Journal Grandfathered patients can bring their phones with them during an office visit and we can review all of their ECG tracings.
- Journal gGandfathered Kardia users can email their old tracings to their physicians or to anyone they wish (even the skeptical cardiologist!). They can also print them out and save PDFs of the tracings.
- I can view through my online physician account all of my Journal Grandfathered patients. This means any time a patient of mine makes a recording that is unclassified or suggests atrial fibrillation I can be notified and immediately view it online.
This fundamental change took place as AliveCor attempts to convince purchasers of the Kardia device to use their Premium service.
Why AliveCor Changed The Kardia App Function
Dr. David Albert, inventor and cardiologist and the founder of AliveCor was kind enough to talk with me about this change.
He indicates that of the 150,000 AliveCor users, 10,000 are now using the Kardia Premium service. About 20% of new users elect Kardia Premium.
Prior to the change all AliveCor users had their old ECG recordings stored in the cloud in a HIPPA compliant fashion. This free service was costing AliveCor quite a bit and the company felt it was best to switch to a subscription service to provide this secure cloud storage.
With the change to the (relatively inexpensive) subscription service, patients will get additional features. As the AliveCor account executive described:
Kardia Premium allows unlimited storage and history of their EKGs, summary reports with longitudinal data, blood pressure monitoring and tracking weight and medication.
I’ve looked at the Premium service and it seems quite useful when combined with a connected physician utilizing Kardia Pro. I’ll evaluate the Premium service and the physician Kardia Pro service further and write a full post on its features in the near future.
If you are not grandfathered and want to stick with the Basic Kardia service you still have an immensely useful and inexpensive device which allows personal detection of your cardiac rhythm. Just remember to email yourself the ECG recording you just made before you hit DONE.
8 thoughts on “What Is Behind The Significant Changes In AliveCor's Kardia Mobile ECG App?”
It has been my experience that the AliveCor has a number of issues, the most important being its difficulty in being able to distinguish between PACs or PVCs which it, many times results in an erroneous finding of AFIB. At other times even NSR is interpreted as “unclassified” (Heart rate above threshold for this) or AFIB.
Do you ave any opinion on the Healforce Prince 180D. It appears to be quite accurate.
I agree and wrote a post about AliveCor’s PVCs problem (https://theskepticalcardiologist.com/2017/08/17/alivecor-kardia-has-a-premature-beat-problem-how-pvcs-and-pacs-confuse-the-mobile-ecg-device/)
Have you utilized a Healforce Prince device?
As far as I can tell it is made by a company out of Shanghai with a shady website. I am skeptical.
I am glad I am grandfathered in! Will look forward to your next post on the Alivecor.
Don’t be fooled by the numbers :
30sec x 100Hz x 16bits x 1ECG/week x 52 weeks/year x 150k users = 50Gbytes/year … (even HIPAA) shouldn’t be that expensive after all.
Sounds more like a business model pivot.
Thanks for your analysis. David Albert said this was costing ” a million dollars”. Perhaps an exageration?
Hmmm….Alivecor has now partnered with Omron who still stores user health data in the cloud for free. Sounds link AliveCor could learn a few things from Omron…like the true cost of data storage for example.
Good morning Dr. Pearson,
Thanks for this information. I had no idea anything had changed. I just checked my Kardia account. It says I am grandfathered in. At the bottom of that screen it asks if I have a “referral code to connect to a doctor or service “. Do you have a referral code? Maybe I don’t need it since I’m grandfathered. Not sure.
Thank you. As always, I appreciate you sharing your expertise in these blogs!
Patiently yours, Linda Kelly Mueller
Sent from my iPhone