There are many variables to consider when selecting a cardiac monitoring service. Each provider has their own mix of technology, process, and service. While the type of technology used to capture patient data is critical, it’s even more important to know who is reading the data.
Readers can range from an automated computer system to a seasoned RN with years of critical care experience. Each category of readers provides a graduated level of service- from the bare minimum to the most advanced. It’s important to understand what level of reading technician each provider employs and, in turn, how that will impact the burden you and your staff absorb. Three high-level categories of monitoring include:
This basic level of monitoring is managed by the reliance on algorithms. It is an automated system that alerts the monitoring company of any abnormality based on specific criteria. Generally, a raw, unedited report is sent to the physician for evaluation and interpretation. With this method, the physician’s office retains the responsibility in terms of analyzing the data in a timely manner.
Many monitoring services are staffed with Certified Rhythm Analysis Technicians (CRATs) and/or Certified Cardiac Technicians (CCTs). These technicians have experience with administering EKGs, and reading and troubleshooting reports. Comparable levels of technicians include those who may have attended a monitored technician course in order to learn how to interpret EKGs or those who may have been hired by the monitoring service and are provided with on-the-job training.
Registered Nurse Monitored
The highest level of cardiac monitoring reading expertise includes a combined staff of registered cardiac nurses and technicians. Registered nurses are college educated, state board certified and, in many cases, certified in additional specific areas of expertise.
Registered nurses generally bring with them years of valuable critical care experience. Their ability to leverage that experience while watching and analyzing EKG results and evaluating their patients’ signs and symptoms adds significant value to the overall monitoring service. Their expertise allows them to serve as an extension of the physician as they ask critical questions and provide comprehensive care and comfort by way of a more holistic approach.
Making the Choice
Cardiac monitoring providers offer distinctly different levels of service when it comes to who reads the data. When evaluating these providers, determining who is caring for the patient is a critical component in the decision-making process. Any monitoring partner you utilize is an extension of your patient care, so it’s important to choose one that not only meets your outsourcing needs, but also your standards and level of patient care.