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Team Members:
  • Taryn Amatruda
  • Tessa Bronez
  • Katie Kan
  • Arvind Mohan
  • Thai Nguyen
  • Rachel Yung
  • Youseph Yazdi, PhD
  • Soumyadipta Acharya, MD, PhD
  • Aditya Polsani, BDS, MS
  • Yong Cho, PhD
  • Daniel Flo
  • Nathan Grenz
  • Jonathan Zimmer
  • Julia Chen, PhD
  • Shu Peng, MD
  • Ronald Berger, MD, PhD
  • Victor Yu, MSE


Currently only a small number of patients with bradycardia (abnormally slow heart rate) in China receive optimal treatment for their disease, as there are about 31 pacemaker implants per million population in China, compared to 272 in Japan and 767 in the United States. Pacemakers are used to treat patients with bradycardia and are a safe, effective, life-improving and often life-saving treatment. Thus, in collaboration with Medtronic, we set out to identify the root causes behind the low pacemaker adoption rate in China and develop a solution to begin to address this significant problem. Following our first ethnographic research trip to China in August 2016, we determined that patients diagnosed with bradycardia and recommended to receive a pacemaker are often hesitant to receive this life-improving treatment. Our findings showed that about one third of patients refuse to receive a pacemaker because they do not truly understand their diagnosis and the rationale behind needing a pacemaker. Variable patient education, the lack of reliable medical sources available for patients, and the very limited time (<5 minutes) physicians spend with their patients are all influential on the lack of patient understanding regarding pacemakers. In order to test our hypotheses about patient understanding and receive feedback on our potential solutions to address this unmet need, we interviewed more Chinese patients in January of 2017. With post-implantation pacemaker patient feedback, we determined the most impactful way to move forward. Thus, we have developed a patient-centered wearable smartwatch, called BradyBand, to improve pacemaker understanding in bradycardia patients. This consumer device empowers patients to track their health and understand how their symptoms and low quality of life are correlated with their heart condition. Although diagnostic devices for arrhythmias exist, they merely provide data to the physician about the patient’s disease state. BradyBand is the first device designed for post-diagnosis patients, providing them with clear data about their own cardiac health. It consists of a plethysmographic sensor to constantly track the patient’s heart rate, a button to track symptoms, and a clear summary of instances when the patient’s low heart rate is correlated with their symptoms. The device is designed with the end user in mind and therefore has a low-price point and intuitive user-interface. Through empowering patients to be more cognizant of their cardiac health, we believe BradyBand will help bradycardia patients receive the appropriate pacing treatment to improve their lives.

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