Last week, AliveCor, a nine-year-old company with 92 employees whose small, personal electrocardiogram machines help users detect atrial fibrillation, bradycardia, and tachycardia from heart rate readings from their own kitchen tables, raised $ 65 million from investors.
It's clearer today why investors who donated a total of $ 169 million to Mountain View, Ca., are excited about the outlook. AliveCor has just received its latest FDA approval under the agency's software for a medical device upgrade designation that produces enough detail and fidelity that, according to AliveCor, cardiac services can now serve as a replacement for cardiac patients in the vast majority of their doctor's cases.
Specifically, the company says the FDA-cleared update can detect atrial premature contractions, ventricular premature contractions, and sinus rhythm with wide QR.
In a world where the pandemic continues and people are reluctant to visit a hospital, these small steps add up. According to Priya Abani and AliveCor's founder and chief medical officer, David Albert, former GE's chief cardiologist, AliveCor's “Kardia” devices have recorded nearly 15 million EKGs since March of this year. That is an increase of over 70% compared to the previous year.
They also claim that so-called doctor-patient connections are up 25% year over year, which means doctors specifically encourage their patients to use the device either in their doctor's office or at the patient's home. In fact, the couple say that while the company has historically focused on selling to consumers, it is generating so much new business from doctor referrals that now roughly one in two of their devices is sold through these referrals.
Patients still have to pay out of pocket for AliveCor's personal EKG machines, one of which is currently selling for $ 84, while a more sophisticated model sells for $ 139.
The company recently launched a subscription product for $ 99 a year that "unlocks" additional features, including monthly summaries of a customer's heart data, and hopefully soon, Abani says, access to cardiologists who will be able to answer questions to answer from own cardiologist.
Abani, who joined AliveCor from Amazon last year where she was general manager and director of Alexa, says other deals are in the works to help customers measure their high blood pressure and blood pressure. She adds that the company broadly sees itself as a way for people to manage chronic illness from home and that, if AliveCor has their way, employers will offer the service to employees so they can take better care of their own can heart health.
Meanwhile, AliveCor's bigger foray into the company seems tied to not only COVID and its ripple effects, but also consumer-side competition from the Apple Watch, which now also allows wearers to record the electrical impulses that make the heart Let it beat faster, and to determine whether the upper and lower chambers are your heart is in rhythm.
Though the company sang Apple's praises for raising heart health awareness last year, AliveCor stopped manufacturing a previous product called KardiaBand, which was an FDA-cleared EKG wristband for use with Apple Watches, last year.
AliveCor's products are currently sold in 12 countries including India, South Korea and Germany. Sales are possible in more than 20 other countries.
In addition to being sold to customers directly through their website, the devices can also be purchased through Best Buy, CVS and Walgreens.
Very noteworthy: Neither Apple nor AliveCor can detect actual heart attacks. While both can diagnose atrial fibrillation, acute heart attacks are not associated with atrial fibrillation.