Atrial fibrillation screening in pharmacies using an iPhone ECG: a qualitative review of implementation

N. Lowres*, I. Krass, L. Neubeck, J. Redfern, A.J. McLachlan, A.A. Bennett, S.B. Freedman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)



Atrial fibrillation guidelines advocate screening to identify undiagnosed atrial fibrillation. Community pharmacies may provide an opportunistic venue for such screening. 


To explore the experience of implementing an atrial fibrillation screening service from the pharmacist’s perspective including: the process of study implementation; the perceived benefits; the barriers and enablers; and the challenges for future sustainability of atrial fibrillation screening within pharmacies. Setting Interviews were conducted face-to-face in the pharmacy or via telephone, according to pharmacist preference. 


The ‘SEARCH-AF study’ screened 1000 pharmacy customers aged ≥65 years using an iPhone electrocardiogram, identifying 1.5 % with undiagnosed atrial fibrillation. Nine pharmacists took part in semi-structured interviews. Interviews were transcribed in full and thematically analysed. Main outcome measure Qualitative analysis of the experience of implementing an AF screening service from the pharmacist’s perspective. 


Four broad themes relating to service provision were identified: (1) interest and engagement in atrial fibrillation screening by pharmacists, customers, and doctors with the novel, easy-to-use electrocardiogram technology serving as an incentive to undergo screening and an education tool for pharmacists to use with customers; (2) perceived benefits to the pharmacist including increased job satisfaction, improvement in customer relations and pharmacy profile by fostering enhanced customer care and the educational role of pharmacists; (3) implementation barriers including managing workflow, and enablers such as personal approaches for recruitment, and allocating time to discuss screening process and fears; and, (4) potential for sustainable future implementation including remuneration linked to government or pharmacy incentives, combined cardiovascular screening, and automating sections of risk-assessments using touch-screen technology.


Atrial fibrillation screening in pharmacies is well accepted by pharmacists and customers. Many pharmacists combined atrial fibrillation screening with other health screens reporting improved time-efficiency and greater customer satisfaction. Widespread implementation of atrial fibrillation screening requires longterm funding, which could be provided for a combined cardiovascular screening service. Further research could focus on feasibility and cost-effectiveness of combined cardiovascular screening in pharmacies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1111-1120
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Clinical Pharmacy
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes


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