The electrophysiology (EP) service line has grown leaps and bounds in the past decade, driven by factors including advancement in interventional imaging, improvement in catheters for effective ablation therapy, and the introduction of robotic navigation systems for supporting safe and efficient procedures. The demand for minimally invasive EP procedures will accelerate in the next 3 years in response to the increasing prevalence of cardiac arrhythmias, in the number of EP centers staffed by skilled electrophysiologists globally, and in the preference for micro-invasive ablation procedures for instant improvement of patient outcomes in lieu of long-term medication management for conditions like atrial fibrillation (AFib). These factors will also enable favorable reimbursement mandates for EP procedures in ambulatory surgical centers. The majority of procedures performed in EP labs is for treating AFib, which is the top cause of blood clots that lead to stroke, and persons with the condition are 5 times more likely to suffer a fatal stroke. The prevalence of AFib is about 3% of the general population and is likely to double in the next 30 years.
With rapid technology advancements driving micro-invasive procedures, collaborations have increased between traditional companies that develop catheters and imaging and robotic companies as a way to stay relevant by making procedures more effective and efficient. However, the complexity in EP procedures forces companies to continually engage with electrophysiologists in research and training. In spite of developments in interventional EP procedures, challenges remain in the upstream care continuum where an abysmal proportion of arrhythmia cases is diagnosed due to lack of awareness among patients and primary care clinicians about heart rhythm disorders.
While innovative consumer-oriented device companies are building smart handheld or patch-based electrocardiograms (ECGs) to identify abnormalities, the challenge remains to build a proper care management loop that will enable efficient access to therapy. Despite its challenges, the market for screening and monitoring is witnessing the emergence of disruptive start-ups building clinical-grade personal ECG devices with superior specificity and sensitivity parameters.