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Congratulations to Jessica Orchard on winning an educational grant for the European Heart Rhythm Association 2020 Congress as well as the Emerging Researchers in Mobile Health Prize at eHealth@Sydney 2020.

Jessica, who is a Research Coordinator and PhD candidate with HRI’s Heart Rhythm and Stroke Prevention Group, was awarded for her presentations on the Group’s research into implementation of novel eHealth tools to screen for atrial fibrillation in general practice.

Atrial fibrillation (often known as ‘AF’) is an irregular heart rhythm that is common as people become older, although some people display no symptoms. If undiagnosed, it can raise the risk of stroke. However, early diagnosis and treatment for those at high risk can reduce stroke risk by 64%.

“I’m very honoured to receive these awards, which will help us share our findings on implementing AF screening in general practice using novel eHealth tools. Our work developing these eHealth tools will help GPs and nurses be more efficient with AF screening and treatment, thereby allowing to screen and treat a higher proportion of at-risk patients,” Jessica says.

The ultimate goal is to prevent AF-related strokes.”

One of the new tools used in the Group’s studies is a smartphone electrocardiogram (iECG), which can take an accurate reading of a patient’s heart rhythm in 30 seconds and give an immediate result. The Group has also developed other eHealth tools, including a screening prompt, electronic decision support to guide treatment and customised data reports for quality improvement. These tools are all integrated with general practice software.

“This work has been a team effort, led by Professor Ben Freedman, Dr Nicole Lowres and Professor Lis Neubeck,” Jessica says. “We have also collaborated with the George Institute for Global Health in developing some of the tools. Most importantly, we would like to acknowledge the general practices who have participated in our studies.”

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