The AHSN Network welcomes new diagnostics guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) on the use of single lead ECG devices for detecting atrial fibrillation (AF), supporting its conclusion that further research is needed to better understand the full potential of these devices in the identification of AF, and subsequent stroke prevention.

Improving the detection and treatment of atrial fibrillation (AF) to prevent stroke is a priority for all 15 AHSNs. We are currently engaged in a national programme of work which spans the patient care pathway from detection through to treatment and monitoring.

The AHSN Network welcomes this recent publication from NICE into the use of lead-I ECG devices for detecting atrial fibrillation (AF) using single-time point testing in primary care. We support the conclusion that further research is required to better understand their full potential in the identification of AF, and subsequent AF stroke prevention.

Single lead (mobile) ECG devices were highlighted by Simon Stevens at the 2016 NHS Confed conference as an innovation that clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) should start commissioning to improve the detection of AF. As a result, NHS England identified funding to help stimulate the market and increase the uptake of such devices in primary and community care settings, with an evaluation aiming to answer the question, “can a system-wide procurement initiative improve the uptake of innovative technologies (mobile ECG technologies)?”

The AHSN Network was commissioned by NHS England to identify a range of suitable devices and distribute these across the country by working closely with primary and community care providers to select settings and clinical teams in which patients are likely to have an increased prevalence of AF, for example podiatry clinics, community teams for older people and mental health teams.

The project is being independently evaluated, which will inform the future use of the technology, in the context of current and future NICE guidance.  The evaluation will also provide insight into the wider drivers for the successful spread and adoption of digital innovation.

The full NICE guideline is available at www.nice.org.uk/guidance/dg35