Automated ECG Priority Escalation

Alberta Health Services (AHS) recently introduced a standardized process for handling Edmonton-area community laboratory patients that present with acute critical ECG interpretations.

According to the process, if the Test Collector identifies any of five defined phrases (e.g. – “complete heart block”) in the device-generated interpretation, the Collector is required to escalate the priority of the test and immediately take the prescribed urgent care action.

This implementation is part of a province-wide initiative, the purpose of which is to overcome the potential for a delay in urgent patient care that can arise because of the time required for routine ECG interpretation by the physician.

AHS’ process seeks to accelerate the initiation of action by leveraging the value of the preliminary interpretation that is generated by the ECG device by instigating action at the point of care, before the test is even transmitted to the physician for interpretation.  However, in doing so, the process places a large responsibility upon the Collector because that clinician must manually “eyeball” the device’s interpretation and accurately identify the presence one of the phrases that would trigger prioritization escalation.  Catching or missing such a phrase could literally make the difference between life and death for the patient.

TeleMED has developed a way of managing this risk by automating the process of detecting the acute ECG interpretation and by flashing an alert on the clinician’s monitor.  Because our solutions feature interoperability, this tool can function with multiple brands and models of ECG recorders.

One of our Alberta clients deployed the tool several months ago and achieved remarkable success in reducing the rate at which Collectors failed to escalate the priority of a test.  Before deployment, our client relied upon its Collectors to manually detect the tests that required Priority Escalation.  Since the deployment of the tool, missed Priority Escalation have been reduced by 75%.

Stephen Chernoff, Director of Marketing and Sales