When Selecting An ECG, One Size Does Not Fit All

July 30, 2020

To help physicians keep their clinics running smoothly, there are a few key things to remember when choosing the right ECG for their practice.

Acquiring, interpreting and storing ECGs represents a common scenario where a hospital device is not always appropriate for a clinic. A resting ECG is one of the most common tests in a physician’s office, so it is important to streamline the clinical workflow and connectivity of ECGs.

To help physicians keep their clinics running smoothly, there are a few key considerations to remember when choosing the right ECG for their practice.

Weigh Features with Efficiency.

ECGs are essential tests, but they are used differently across care settings. An interventional cardiologist in a hospital likely requires a different data set than a primary care physician in an office. To support the right workflow and help minimize support calls, it’s critical to understand the use case before deciding on equipment.

Standardization tends to work best when we standardize based on the clinical use case When ECGs designed for hospitals are pushed into clinics, we often see clinicians struggling to use these more complex devices. A few simple questions can help avoid this.

Key Questions:

  • Who will administer ECGs?
  • Who will interpret the results?
  • What is the next step if an abnormality is found? (Another test in the same setting, or a specialist referral?)

Once the workflow is clear, IT can often achieve the efficiency they’re looking for by selecting specialized devices from the same provider. Similarities in user interfaces, connectivity solutions and purchasing processes can simplify life for IT without complicating it for clinicians—and help reduce costs in the process.

Consider IT Support Available.

While hospitals have full IT departments on site, this is often not the case in a doctor’s office or outpatient clinic. Users in a primary care setting may call a central help desk for support, or even rely on a staff member to troubleshoot issues. Therefore, simple issues like an ECG device losing its connection to the wireless network may result in a much higher workload in a clinic than in a hospital.

This is one reason many clinics opt for a PC-based ECG solution. They’re already using laptops throughout the practice to run the EHR and other software systems, so a support system for those laptops is already in place. Running ECG software on a laptop, rather than training users on an entirely new device, can help minimize training and keep tech support as simple as possible.

Key questions:

  • What is the support process for ECG solutions?
  • What level of training is acceptable for new software and devices?

Are your clinical users already comfortable with laptops?

Be Clear on Where the Data Needs to Go.

ECG devices chosen for hospital settings may integrate not just with the EHR, but also the ECG management or PACS system. Before making this a requirement for devices in an outpatient setting ask: is it necessary?

Again, it comes down to understanding the clinical use case. If your clinics frequently share ECG results with hospital practitioners, this level of integration may make sense. But if interpretation typically happens within the office, integration with the EHR may suffice.

Key questions:

  • Does the clinic frequently share ECG results with hospital practitioners? Or does interpretation typically happen within the office?
  • Does the ECG integrate with the clinic’s EHR?

Make no mistake—you should expect your ECG provider to help you get the data your teams need where they need it. But asking a few questions may help you narrow your scope and avoid unnecessary complexity and IT support.

Taking the time to answer these questions can help empower physicians to provide the best care possible with ECG solutions based on their unique care settings.

Jen Shaw is the Cardiology Marketing Manager and Lari Rutherford is the Senior Manager of Connectivity at Hillrom, a global provider of medical supplies and technology.