Benefits of Integrating Ambulatory ECGs into Centralized Database Management Systems

GE Healthcare

By Sarah Handzel, BSN, RN

Today, database management systems are tied to almost every aspect of the clinical work environment. According to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, 96% of hospitals and 78% of outpatient physician offices use certified electronic health records (EHRs) to help manage patient care.

As healthcare centers continue to adopt technology to create centralized data systems, some clinicians may be wondering just how beneficial these systems are, especially now that new technologies, including ambulatory ECG devices, are increasingly being used by patients to provide continuous, real-time information about their heart health.

Benefits of a Centralized Database Management System

As ECG technology continues to evolve, a database management system can help clinicians continue to provide the highest quality care possible. While many of the benefits of such systems are obvious, clinicians and healthcare decision-makers might overlook certain advantages, such as:

  • Connecting ECG technology: During the past decade, over 680 hospital systems merged, according to the Washington Post. In many cases, these mergers have left healthcare centers with various ECG technologies from several vendors. Centralized data systems can help to integrate all existing data into one shared platform, giving clinicians better access to historical patient information and the results of new diagnostic tests or therapeutic interventions.
  • Identifying diagnostic trends: Evolving centralized data systems are capable of storing more patient information than ever before, creating a "data deluge." These huge data stores can be used to inform the decision-making process and provide better care. As the use of artificial intelligence (AI) expands in healthcare, these technologies may be used in conjunction with a database management system to analyze ECGs collected over time and better detect cardiovascular abnormalities. Using AI to evaluate large-scale ECG databases may save clinicians time and effort in diagnosing patients.
  • Improving care coordination: Before digital database management systems, healthcare communications were often disjointed and inefficient. Well-designed, targeted care coordination delivered to the right individual can help improve outcomes across the healthcare spectrum, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. A shared, centralized data system allows clinicians to view patient-specific information from virtually any location, enabling them to share ideas with other providers and manage a patient's care plan to provide the best outcome possible.
  • Protecting private patient information: The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology reports that, in 2015, over 111 million hacking or other IT incidents resulted in protected patient health information breaches. Today, database management systems are more secure, offering better protection against denial of service (DDoS) attacks in particular. While centralized data systems store patient information in one convenient location, this information can usually also be stored externally, offering an alternative source of patient data if breaches occur.


To learn more about the power of the ECG in today's clinical landscape, browse our Diagnostic ECG Clinical Insights Center.


Implications for Ambulatory ECGs

Today, the availability of smartphones and other wearable devices makes it easier than ever for clinicians to monitor heart conditions and make definitive diagnoses via ambulatory ECG technology. Cardiology database management systems allow for fast data delivery and distribution, and can support ECG analysis on a variety of devices. Giving physicians this easy, fast access to ambulatory ECGs may be particularly important in evaluating patients who present with chest pain or other indicators of myocardial infarction in emergency department facilities.

This data access can enable clinicians to diagnose patients rapidly and activate life-saving interventions sooner. For example, the catheterization lab could be prepared earlier for a patient with suspected STEMI in order to provide potentially life-saving care more quickly. Coupling ambulatory ECG with a database management system can be especially useful for cardiologists who are away from ECG workstations when a patient arrives.

Making use of a database management system is becoming more crucial for providing the highest quality of care possible. Healthcare providers may find that such systems can help them better analyze patient data, make diagnostic decisions, and determine which treatments are most likely to promote positive outcomes.

Sarah Handzel, BSN, RN has been writing professionally since 2016 after spending over nine years in clinical practice in various specialties.

The opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints of GE Healthcare. The author is a paid consultant for GE Healthcare and was compensated for creation of this article.