Integrating ECG Waveforms into Campus-Wide Image Management

The electrocardiogram (ECG) is counted among the most frequent types of exams in healthcare. IT technology has now made it possible to display the presentation and reporting of electric signals from the heart on a computer screen whereas previously, this could only be done on paper. In order to ensure optimal workflow, the ECG devices should inherit patient information from an information system (e.g. a HIS) on the one hand, and on the other, completed exams should be stored in an image management system (PACS) which can be accessed from anywhere on the hospital campus. This image management system should enable the retrieval of all images and films. This is the only approach which allows for homogeneous, comprehensive image management.

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Standardized Integration

VISUS, with its systems, meets these requirements. The company is capable of integrating the ECG devices from all renowned manufacturers in the market. The basis for this is provided by many year’s experiences of the company with the DICOM standard for communication. The integration of the ECG waveforms into the communication flow is based on this standard.

In order to ensure a seamless workflow, there is an interchange with the hospital information system (HIS). The patient and exam information is inherited from the HIS via established HL7 interfaces, and exam results are retransmitted.

Rapid and Effective Reporting

When a physician has the ECG waveform of a patient in front of him for reporting, he is interested primarily in irregularities in the rhythm of the heart. For this purpose, he will measure the amplitude in the course of time. Wherever signal characteristics are unclear, he can easily enlarge the wave by a click or induce a different presentation of the waves on the screen. ECG ruler, calliper, pencil, and magnifying glass are things of the past. Comparisons with previous exams can be carried out conveniently at the same workplace, too. The recent image of the lung, e.g., or a heart catheter video can support the evaluation. In addition to the time saved, diagnostic certitude increases.

All measurement results are documented, and then stored, in an audit-proof manner as brief reports. Subsequently they are available to all authorized users anywhere on the hospital campus, by way of integration into the patient record. In addition, the images can be printed in a 1:1 format at any time. ECGs can be passed on in electronic format by creating patient CDs, as has already been common use for exams in radiology for the past years.

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Flexible archiving, fast access

For archiving, the user selects the relevant images and sequences. Data can be stored online, in a Storage Area Network (SAN), on shared hard disk systems in a network (Network Attached Storage, NAS), or on a direct attached hard disk system (RAID). Offline storage is done on DVDs, BluRay discs, or magnetic tapes which are handled either manually or by robots. Before archiving of image data, feedback is given to the leading information system. The reconciliation with the order communication ensures process quality.

A further option for long-term archiving is JiveX Storage Service for PACS (SSP). This service enables the customer to store his data in an external archive operated by a service provider. This type of data storage enables cost-optimized operation for the user. With the full orientation of fees towards use, the customer is not required to make investments and tie up capital. Cost can be planned because there are no additional expenditures for migration, administration, or maintenance.