For iRhythm, two new JAMA studies could translate to big sales

By Jonah Comstock
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iRhythm Technologies reported a promising second quarter from a financial standpoint, citing a revenue of $35.5 million, up 55 percent from this time last year. But CEO Kevin King's major focus on the call was not earnings, but a pair of scientific studies published last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association and JAMA Cardiology.

These studies and what they represent could crack the market wide open for iRhythm, King suggested.

"We continue to evaluate opportunities and support clinical studies for our Zio service with a goal of expanding the total addressable market," King said. "Recently, positive results from two impactful studies were published in the Journals of the American Medical Association that meaningfully advance our progress while highlighting the benefits of our Zio service."

One study, the mHealth Screening to Prevent Strokes () trial, was a joint collaboration between iRhythm, Aetna, and the Scripps Translational Science Institute, with additional study funding from Janssen Pharmaceuticals, the Qualcomm Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health. Though it was just published in July, the gist of the results was available in March: While wearing a ZIO patch didn't decrease hospitalizations, it did make patients three times as likely to have their atrial fibrillation diagnosed, which generally led patients to start taking an anticoagulant to lower their stroke risk.

The other, the  was conducted in conjunction with Kaiser Permanente. Rather than examining the Zio patch itself as an intervention, this study used the patch to assess whether the burden of atrial fibrillation (that is, the amount of time spent with an irregular heart rhythm) was an independent predictor of stroke risk. The results of the 1,965-person study showed that it was.

"There are over 1 million patients diagnosed with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation in the US and we believe these results from the KP-RHYTHM study present a strong case for expanding the clinical use of Zio and helping to manage this population of patients," King said. "This represents a meaningful market expansion opportunity that we've begun to pursue. The findings from the KP-RHYTHM study are unique and specific to Zio as a relationship between true AF burden and stroke were based on a median of 14 days of continuous monitoring."

Similarly, King said, the mSToPS results could persuade hospitals to start using Zio to monitor patients with a high-risk of stroke for asymptomatic stroke, a potential market of 3 million patients. 

Beyond the two recently published studies, King's updates were mostly around the sales force expansion that was the topic of the company's first quarter call.

"Sales team expansion was a key objective for us in the first half of 2018. We set a goal of hiring 20 to 25 quota-carrying reps with the expectation that most of these hires will be made in the first half of the year," he said. "We achieved that hiring goal, ending Q2 with a team of 110. For the remainder of the year we'll turn our attention to driving rep productivity. We have a strong sales leadership team, as well as sales infrastructure team to lead and support that team."

The company continues to roll out its connected Zio AT offering, but that product hasn't yet had a significant impact on sales

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