Wearable technology is quickly advancing into healthcare and diagnostics, where Apple recently announced that 400,000 participants were enrolled in the Apple Heart trial, a study aimed at screening atrial fibrillation. If wearable technology proves to be successful in identifying irregular heart rhythms, this could potentially lead to rapid growth in the electrophysiology ablation market.

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a type of irregular heart rhythm that affects approximately 2% of the population worldwide, and is expected to increase with ageing populations. Electrophysiology ablation procedures are a minimally invasive treatment option that can normalise the heart’s rhythm without the need for medication or a pacemaker. Technology in the electrophysiology market is advancing quickly as it is increasingly being recognized as an effective alternative to lifelong medication.

Wearable tech in healthcare: proving the concept

GlobalData expects the electrophysiology ablation catheters market to reach $2.6bn by 2028, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 4%. The need to meet the growing number of AF patients is driving the increasing numbers of electrophysiology labs across the world, and encouraging companies to continuously improve their electrophysiology products in order to provide safer and more efficient procedures, and better patient outcomes.

AF is diagnosed primarily using an echocardiogram (ECG) that records electric signals passing through the heart; however, diagnosis is restricted to patients who undergo routine ECG testing. If the Apple Watch heart trial can prove that wearable technology  can successfully diagnose atrial fibrillation, GlobalData expects that this could significantly increase the patient pool eligible for treatment, as diagnostic testing would expand to patients who do not regularly go for routine ECG screening. This could lead to the electrophysiology ablation catheter market reaching over the forecast $2.6bn by 2028, as well as rapid growth in other markets such as pharmaceutical treatment.

While there is potential for wearable technology to revolutionise healthcare and diagnostic testing, there are still many questions surrounding the accuracy of these devices. Lastly, there is also the possibility unintended consequences, such as anxiety and worry associated with earlier diagnosis of the disease without any benefit.