For over a century, medical professionals have relied on ECG technology to get to the bottom of heart arrhythmias and other cardiovascular issues. It is a fairly simple non-invasive solution, where sensors monitor your heart’s electrical activity and your doctor uses this data to make a diagnosis. While the concept of how ECGs work has largely remained unchanged in the 100 years since its inception, we cannot do the same for technology. Modern advancements have given rise to a new age where ECG technologies are reaching new heights. This year, we find that these are the top ECG advancements that you should know about.
Table of Contents
The Switch To Full Digitalization
The legacy technologies around ECG systems – which largely focused on paper printouts- were not fully compatible with the EMR or EHR platforms of today. There was significant incompatibility between these tools and various cardiology reporting systems.
The good news though is that it’s all beginning to change as workflows move forward, embracing the convenience and efficiency of paperless hospitals. Thanks to modern integration software solutions, now we have ECG technologies with full digital format capability.
As a result, the benefits have been:
- Lower cost of ECG tests
- Fewer storage concerns for hospitals
- Greater diagnostic accuracy for physicians
Overall, this digitalization has made it easy for care facilities to centralize all critical patient data, which has improved decision-making processes for healthcare providers. Additionally, it has helped in the shift toward preventive cardiac care solutions.
ECG Lead Placement Software
For the conventional 12-lead ECG, you’re looking at a similar number of leads that you need to strategically place across the entire body. With so many to keep track of, it can be a challenge to ensure accurate lead placement even for experienced technicians.
And with improper lead placement come diagnostic inaccuracies. For example, it’s possible to wrongly diagnose a lateral infarct due to the waveform that you get when you interchange the arm electrodes across the left and right sides.
To lower such cases, we’re now witnessing the use of assistive software for ECG lead placements. This technology renders the patient’s body as a 3-D projection on the monitor, with the display offering guidance on where each lead needs to go.
Still, the system also has a failsafe should the technician still place the leads incorrectly despite the illustration. Incorrect lead placement triggers alerts thus ensuring that leads are always where they are supposed to be. Consequently, diagnostic yield and accuracy improve as technicians make fewer mistakes.
AI-Driven Ecg Solutions Are Getting More Accurate
In the industry today, manual ECG interpretation or scoring is still the preferred route. That’s because AI solutions haven’t always delivered the best ECG results in terms of accuracy. So much so that their use cases have been quite limited in the medical field.
But we may be getting to a point where the tide is beginning to shift. Artificial intelligence, and machine learning algorithms, in particular, are now being called upon to help with ECG interpretations. A great example of this is the AI-driven ECG software tool known as Rhythm AI. This solution can continuously learn from patient data obtained from extensive periods of patient monitoring.
Then, it can analyze this information and provide hints that aid a physician with arrhythmia:
While the technology is far from the complete thing, it shows great promise. It may help physicians to more accurately diagnose heart conditions and even reduce diagnostic turnaround time by a considerable number of hours. Better yet, the patient intelligence it provides may also one day help us to anticipate and predict arrhythmia.
Wavelet ECG Technology is in the Works
It may not yet be a fully functional solution, but wavelet ECG technology is causing a buzz across medical circles. This seeks to change and improve how we interpret ECGs, by giving waveforms more detail beyond the 2-D dynamics that we’re normally used to.
Where basic electrical activity waveforms fall short, this technology will step in to save the day by providing CWT signal processing. In a nutshell, what this will do is open up more frequencies and give us more details about wave energies.
This is information that will come in handy for improving the detection rates for many cardiovascular issues including reduced systolic function, valvular disease, hypertension, and more. The technology is yet to be put into commercial use but it may soon enhance how we assess heart disease risk in patients.
Keep Your Finger on the Pulse of ECG With Cardiac Rhythm
ECG technologies have come a long way since the prototype 100 or so years ago. Thanks to 3-D imaging, digitalization, and artificial intelligence, ECG technology has evolved to ensure even more effectiveness and efficiency. If history has taught us anything, it’s that ECG solutions are just getting started with this change. If you’d like to stay on the cutting edge of the curve, visit the Cardiac Rhythm blog so you can always be the first to know about disruptions in digital health technologies.