What Technologies Are Going to Move EKGs Forward?

By Jesus Garay

EKGs, the standard in medical heart examinations, are not without their own limitations. The two most common ones are interference in readings and slow response time between reading and diagnosis. However, the advances in technology in the last decade have helped technicians and doctors increase the efficacy and results from the EKG readings. Here are so examples of these new changes.

Freedom from Interference

Even a good EKG system has problems that can leave serious impacts on the reading and interpretation of a patient’s heartbeat. One of these challenges, after electric and safety concerns are addressed, is one of interference. The signal-to-noise ratio comes from many artifacts – power line resistance, contact noise between the electrode and patient’s skin, and muscle tremors are some of them. As a consequence, the accuracy of reading can be misleading.

GE revealed promising technology at this year’s Arab Health summit. Most of the products were based on their proprietary FREEdom (Fast Registered Energies & EKG) technology. What it does is make the scanning of coronary exams come out with more accurate results. This is done through a variety of abilities that come from FREEdom. The first is the ability to “freeze” the images coming from coronary motion and velocity of exams with higher heart rates. The imaging of the heart is improved through separating materials like iodine and calcium during imaging. This all happens in real time, making it a valuable tool in emergency room situations.

Smartphones, Smarter EKGs

The worldwide number of smartphone users will reach 1.4 billion in 2013. There are a growing number of add-ons to phones and tablets being used in retail stores and delivery services that convert them into registers or signing forms. It is a logical step, then, for professionals in the medical industry to have their work update through mobile devices as well.

Nasiff Associates, a manufacturer of diagnostic equipment for the medical field, recently announced the first 12-lead EKG machine available on a tablet or smartphone. The CardioCard Mobile uses Bluetooth technology to connect Android devices to a small transmitter that includes electrodes. With the app installed on the device, it effectively makes a tablet or smartphone into a full-functioning mobile EKG machine.  It allows for easier access to EMRs and saves print-friendly reports. While it may seem risky to use this on someone as sensitive as heart monitoring, the versatility and increased mobility can help EKG technicians significantly, especially in moments when they are away from the patient.

There are also other forms of software such as LifeNet, an ad hoc communication system used in disaster relief when there is limited or no wireless reception services.  The program, when installed in both hospital computers and smartphones, has helped sent EKG readings immediately to a doctor’s smartphone and allows for a quick diagnosis. This has increased the chance of survival for many patients suffering from a heart attack by significant numbers.

These advances address the problems of EKGs in life-saving ways. However, It is not just up to those that are developing these technological improvements – it will be integral to ensure there is base of people with the right training to understand and apply these new technologies.

– Jesus Garay is a writer with interests in medical equipment and training. He is concentrating on the details involving medical assistant education like EKG tech training along with other programs.

0 thoughts on “What Technologies Are Going to Move EKGs Forward?

  1. This post raises important points but seems a little behind the current state of mobile EKG technology. On February 8, 2013, on the NBC program “Rock Center,” Eric Topol, MD, a highly respected cardiologist as well as interpreter of the impact of technology on the future of medicine, demonstrated a smartphone app that merely required placing the smart phone over his heart in order to get a complete EKG. The price of the app is $199, about a quarter of the price charged for an EKG using current technology. Note: No EKG tech, no EKG lab, no hospital visit, no inconvenience to the patient, and, indeed, no Cardiologist required to read the EKG, if “high value Primary Care” were the principal goal of Internal Medicine, Family Medicine, and Pediatric residency training. Topol’s book, “The Creative Destruction of Medicine,” is well worth reading especially for medical students, residents, and clinician faculty..