Technology is changing everything about our lives, including our approach to medicine. Check out this guide to learn more about what telecardiology is, and why it matters.
Imagine receiving a diagnosis of an ECG test from a doctor hundreds of miles away. How about having a pacemaker monitored in real-time from a remote location? Medical technology makes this possible with telecardiology.
Telecardiology can be a life-saver in small-town medical facilities that don’t have a cardiologist. It can also save lives during a cardiac emergency. Although the technology behind it has existed for over a decade, its use improves with technological advances.
Read on to find out how it works and why someone might need telecardiology services.
Why Use Telecardiology for ECG Tests?
In today’s modern medical practice, telecommunications can send all kinds of medical tests and data in an instant. One type is ECG tests. It’s common to have a cardiologist from a different location look at test results and send over a diagnosis.
There are various reasons why. When a clinic doesn’t have a cardiologist on staff, they can send the test image over to another that does. This is common in locations with sparse populations. They send their tests over to larger metropolitan hospitals for interpretation.
Another scenario where telecardiology comes into play is when a specialist needs to look at a test. Other reasons for its use include:
- Getting second opinions for difficult diagnoses or peace of mind
- Covering nighttime hours when no cardiologist is on staff
- Staff sharing situations
- Teaching and training
- Covering cardiologists that are on vacation
How Does Telecardiology Work?
The technology behind telecardiology is simple. After completing a 12-lead ECG test at your local hospital, the image gets transmitted over a telephone line as a sound signal in real-time. Once it reaches the telecardiology facility, the audio signal gets converted back to an image.
A cardiologist or specialist then interprets the image and sends the diagnosis over by email or fax. The diagnosing specialist will also send a spoken report immediately after. This process happens fast, most times before you leave your local office.
Telecardiology solves gaps in healthcare. Not having a cardiologist at your local hospital no longer means waiting days for results. Relying on a general practitioner that may not have the experience necessary to diagnose you without error is not an issue either.
Remote Monitoring with Telecardiology
Besides using telecardiology technology for diagnosing tests, it’s also used to monitor pacemakers and defibrillator implants from remote locations.
Another use is with a single-lead ECG device worn like a watch on a constant basis, similar to a Fitbit. They record electronic data related to arrhythmias. When a patient feels like something is wrong with their heart, they can use it to record the event.
The stored data gets transmitted later to their healthcare provider. Recording problems in real-time solves missing cardiac events that may otherwise go undiagnosed.
Advances in medical technology continue to offer better healthcare services for everyone. With telecardiology, cardiac patients in rural areas can receive the same care as those in urban centers. Location is no longer an issue for cardiac testing and monitoring.
Need telecardiology services for your facility? Contact us for more information.