Is It Time to Make the Switch to Next-Generation Holter ECG Technologies

Is It Time to Make the Switch to Next-Generation Holter ECG Technologies?

Like in any industry, change is inevitable in healthcare. We saw it with recent disruptions such as telemedicine, with Covid-19 further necessitating the switch to a better and devolved care model. For every facility that aims to stay afloat or ahead of the curve, it’s important to always tap into the latest technologies and embrace change before it gets to the point of no return. That leads us to today’s bone of contention, are next-generation holter ECG technologies ripe for the picking, or should we still keep on as is? Well, that’s exactly what we aim to find out today as we take a look at both sides of the divide. 

The brief history of holter ECG technologies 

The conventional Holter ECG has a history spanning more than 82 years, with the first of its kind coming into being in the late 1950s while the maiden ambulatory version made its debut a little over a decade later. However, it was not until 1962 that the holter monitor went into commercial production and there have been several iterations of the technology over the years. 

That has ranged from implantable loop recorders to event monitors and many more in between. As a new dawn in technology becomes, it seems like we may be turning a corner into even newer capabilities. 

Why it may be time to embrace next-gen holter ECG technologies: 

Next-generation holter ECGs promise better connectivity of care

Today, there’s an increased need for patients and physicians to stay connected to their data, regardless of time or distance. Conventional holter monitors proved a stumbling block in this regard, creating obstacles rather than bridges in terms of connecting doctors and care recipients. 

For instance, rudimentary ECG monitor technologies lack cloud capabilities. This means patients have to check in with their physicians who can then check the data. The problem with this though is that: 

  • Medical intervention can be delayed 
  • Intermittent arrhythmias may go undetected 
  • Coordination between care teams is hindered

Next-generation holter monitors with cloud capabilities are therefore becoming the preference for healthcare providers, who’d like to remain constantly connected to patients. These are enabling care teams to receive real-time data about their patients’ conditions, which ensures prompt care. 

Next-generation holter monitors provide more comfort for patients

Patient satisfaction is everything in modern healthcare, but traditional Holter ECG technologies take away from this rather than add to it. Past devices were often bulky and cumbersome and felt quite intrusive to the wearer. They got in the way of daily living and made the patient quite self-conscious about his or her condition. 

However, the evolution of holter ECG devices has brought about the inception of much more convenient models. Today, we have holter monitors that work wirelessly. While they still do have leads that attach to the chest, there have fewer wirings and are generally less bulky in comparison with past models. Patients hardly notice when they have them on, making them particularly ideal when it comes to long-term holter reporting services. 

These more portable versions have become more appealing to modern cardiac monitoring services as well. They are easing the implementation of a hospital-at-home care model that’s helping these facilities to tap into new markets and increase the reach of their workflow, without necessarily onboarding more clinical workers. 

Accuracy concerns may make transition logical 

Traditionally, a lot can get in the way of holter monitoring test results. For example, everyday sources of interference such as electric devices or strong magnets can mess up the readings. What’s more, the following factors may further taint test results: 

  • Inappropriate electrode attachment by the technician i.e. not being in direct skin contact
  • Holter monitors getting water damage when the patient is showering or from profuse sweating 
  • Device faultiness, although rare, is also a possible source of errors 

While modern holter ECG technologies are not impervious to the shortcomings we’ve described above, they tend to cope much better. In particular, they possess improved tolerance in terms of electronic magnetic shielding and waterproofing. Furthermore, we’re also noticing a trend in AI-driven holter ECG analysis, which entails leveraging the capabilities of machine learning to shore up technician diagnosis to ensure better accuracy. 

Increased monitoring needs mean switching to next-gen holters is unavoidable 

In the traditional sense of things, the holter monitor was intended to be a short time device. When Norman J. Holter came up with its prototype back in 1957, it was meant to provide the continual monitoring of the heart’s electrical activity for roughly a day (24 hours) and nothing more. 

Fast forward to the present, and next-generation holter ECG technologies are making extended monitoring (of up to 7 days or more) a reality, helping to address the shortcomings of the relatively brief monitoring periods of holter monitors. In fact, it’s quite commonplace today for holter monitoring technology to span periods of between 14 and 30 days. 

The benefits of long-term continuous ECG monitoring include: 

  • Better determination of the root cause of symptoms
  • Shorter time to defibrillation due to the ability to promptly pick out abrupt myocardial infractions 
  • Technicians can spot intermittent arrythmias that may be missed by a standard holter ECG monitor that provides 24-48 hours of monitoring 

With longer durations of monitoring also come better diagnostic yield as ECG technicians typically have more data to work with to make a more accurate diagnosis. This is further substantiated by a study in the American Journal of Medicine, which found out that a 14-day holter monitor was able to pick out 35 more arrhythmia events compared to its 24-hour alternative. 

The verdict

So to answer our question today: Yes. As you can see, there’s much to gain from embracing modern holter ECG technologies rather than turning a blind eye. Not only are they ensuring an always-on cardiac monitoring approach but they are also making life much easier for patients and clinical workers alike. If you’d like to step into the future with modern holter reporting services and diagnostics, Techindia is here to help you get started. From 7 days to 24 hours holter analytics, and everything in between, we cater to your unique needs to elevate the quality of your cardiac care. Contact us today to enlist our holter monitoring services for your care facility.

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