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Cardiology Data Management Across The IDN: How Clinics Fit In

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Standardization Across an IDC Improves Efficiency

Standardizing technologies and processes across an integrated delivery network (IDN) can be challenging, but can also go a long way toward providing the best, most efficient patient care.

In hospital and clinic settings, there are several factors to consider when evaluating what’s right for each part of your organization to help improve clinical workflow.

What ECG devices and management software do you use across your care settings?

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How Does Standardization Help Your Organization?

Standardization comes down to what’s best for your patients. That is often supported by keeping clinics and physician practices running smoothly.

Only One Interface to Manage

Common workflows for sending data from the device to the EMR or ECG management system can make life simpler for IT and clinicians alike. With only one interface to build, manage and support across care settings, the benefit is clear: standardized workflows are efficient workflows.

Familiar User Interfaces

Similar user interfaces can make life easier across teams as well. For clinicians, that can mean reduced training needs. For IT and biomeds, support calls are reduced and they tend to have an easier time responding to those they do receive, thanks to fewer variables between care settings.

One Vendor Partnership

Partnering with one vendor can simplify processes when it comes to support and parts. Purchasing can go through one vendor and common replacement parts can be kept on hand more easily. When support or repairs are needed, there’s only one vendor to work with.

With the right partner, standardization makes a lot of sense.

What is Important to Consider?

Standardizing across your enterprise requires devices that can support the varying needs of different care settings. If your ECG manufacturer mainly focuses on hospitals, standardization may not yield the desired result in your clinics.

In some cases, trying to force-fit a hospital-oriented device into a clinic can create more problems than standardization solves. Hospital devices are often designed for higher-acuity settings, making them overfeatured for clinics. If the device requires too many clicks, or is full of prompts not necessary in outpatient settings, you could be opening yourself up to a slew of support calls and user workarounds.

If your cardiology vendor of choice works well in both acute and primary care settings, it makes sense to pursue standardization.

Making this decision will help connect your care teams in both hospital settings as well as clinics or physician practices.

For example, Hillrom’s cardiology devices and software are an ideal standardization solution for an IDN containing both primary and acute care facilities. The interconnectivity between the hospital and clinics or physician practices is crucial. This allows the reading physician to access the data they need at any time, no matter what setting they’re in.

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Our IT solutions can be leveraged across multiple hospitals, allowing us to replicate and enterprise our solutions to a central management strategy. One of the major components for choosing Epiphany was the ability to manage a multiple modality integration into our enterprise solution.

— Kevin Groskreutz, Division CIO at Hospital Sisters Health System

What About Managing ECG Data?

Another reason enterprises consider standardization: to store and view ECGs in the same health IT system across one network. There are ways to do this, however, without dictating the ECG devices used. Hillrom devices, for example, offer a flexible connectivity platform that supports sending ECG data to a variety of systems, including multiple EMRs, ECG management systems and PACS. Not all manufacturers have experience with — or can support — this level of connectivity if they still use proprietary device communication methods.

With all of these complexities, determining the best approach to managing ECG data comes down to understanding the clinical use case. Are your primary care clinics doing full interpretation at the clinic? Just enough to determine if a referral should be made? Or are they only acquiring the ECG for review by a cardiologist? Where, when and how data sharing occurs should strongly influence your decisions.

Consider a few more scenarios:

  • If clinics do full ECG interpretation in house, sending data to the EMR may suffice.
  • If clinics typically refer out to specialists when any sort of abnormality is found, then sending all data to a central ECG management system may be beneficial.
  • Likewise, if the protocol is to have all clinic-acquired ECGs sent for review by a cardiologist, consider an ECG management system.

Leverage One System For Multiple Modalities With ECG Management

An ECG management system can help your IDN standardize technology across your departments and facilities. When investing in an ECG management system, there are several factors to consider.

System Compatibility

You’ll want to make sure that the system is compatible with your EMR vendor(s) and the devices you’ll utilize across your infrastructure. Some ECG management vendors such as Epiphany Cardio Server have a cloud option which is beneficial for reducing IT server footprint and freeing up IT time for higher level needs.

Managing Multiple Modalities

It’s a best practice to ensure the system you are considering can manage multiple modalities, so you do not have to run stress, Holter or pulmonary studies through a different system. A good ECG management system will allow you to build a central strategy throughout your enterprise system or IDN.

Access from Anywhere

If you have remote reading physicians, it is important to have secure access from anywhere, anytime. Physicians can confirm studies on the go and information is secure with no patient data remaining on their device after the web session has ended.

Reporting and Data Analysis

It is recommended that the system has a way to analyze your ECG and other diagnostic data for administrative reports, billing management and continual process improvement.

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Having a standardized workflow has made it possible to manage a system that was otherwise unmanageable. 

— Chance Hayes, Director, UBMC (Uintah Basin Medical Center)

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When making decisions about ECG devices and connectivity models, the ramifications go well beyond IT concerns. Above all, make sure you understand the clinical use case for each of your care settings. Standardization should support clinical best practice — not vice versa.

Ask your device manufacturer about ways to make ECG connectivity work across your enterprise without sacrificing clinical needs.

At Hillrom, we understand the pressures you face as care environments become increasingly interconnected. That’s why we provide smarter tools like the Welch Allyn resting and stress ECG devices and Epiphany Cardio Server ECG management system. And you can standardize connectivity across your IDN with DICOM or HL7 communication. With flexible connectivity platforms and collaborative support, Hillrom can help you make the most of connected care — for your patients and your clinicians.

For more information, please contact your local distributor or Hillrom sales representative at 1-800-535-6663.

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