NICE backs use of HeartFlow’s noninvasive chest pain test

human heart
The NICE nod could see HeartFlow's software used on 40,000 patients a year.

The United Kingdom’s cost watchdog has supported (PDF) the use of HeartFlow FFRct Analysis to assess patients with stable, recent onset chest pain. Officials think use of the noninvasive test of coronary heart disease can save the healthcare system $11.4 million a year by avoiding the need for invasive investigations.

Confirmation of the U.K. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s (NICE) support for HeartFlow’s software comes five months after the agency issued a positive draft opinion. The final NICE guidance confirms the key findings of the draft text, including the conclusion that HeartFlow FFRct Analysis will lower the cost of assessing each patient with stable, recent onset chest pain by $267.

The forecast savings derive from the high diagnostic accuracy of HeartFlow’s analysis. By giving clinicians more information on the state of each patient, NICE thinks the analysis can cut the need to perform invasive coronary angiography and revascularization.

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At least some clinicians are already in favor of incorporating the analysis into their pathways.

“The HeartFlow FFRct Analysis provides a definitive understanding of both the anatomical and functional findings, without any additional testing or risk for patients,” Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital’s Dr. Joseph Mills said in a statement. “Application of the Heartflow FFRct Analysis is likely to transform the quality of care we can provide for patients, ensuring the most accurate diagnosis and the best treatment plan, as well reducing the need for invasive coronary angiography—a procedure not without its risks.”

HeartFlow FFRct is software for extracting more information from cardiac CT scans. Users send CT scan data to a HeartFlow processing center, where analysts turn the information into 3D models of coronary arteries. Details of coronary flow are featured in the models created by HeartFlow. This process, which costs the U.K. $875 per test, takes 48 hours.

Gaining validation from NICE of the value of the service delivers a boost to HeartFlow in the U.K., where it could be used to diagnose 40,000 patients a year, and burnishes its reputation globally.

HeartFlow received a CE mark for the first iteration of its software in 2011, before going on to win clearance from FDA in 2014. The opening up of those markets to HeartFlow—and its first-mover status in them—have helped the company put together major fundraising rounds. Having run the company on approximately $30 million in venture and debt financing prior to receiving the CE mark, HeartFlow has since completed two three-figure rounds.

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