Every 40 seconds, someone in the US has a heart attack and every 33 seconds, someone in the US dies from cardiovascular disease. These sobering statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) illustrate how devastating heart disease is as the leading cause of death in the US.
As the US population ages, the risk for cardiovascular disease and related deaths, as well as associated costs, is expected to increase. Right now, cardiovascular disease is America’s costliest disease and it’s expected to soar upward in the coming decades. By 2035, it is projected that the total direct medical costs of cardiovascular disease will be $749 billion.
As the patient demographic continues to grow and become increasingly more complex, efficient and effective diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease at the primary care level is becoming more important. In fact, one study has shown that lower rates of hospitalization for ambulatory care sensitive conditions (ACSCs) are associated with receiving primary care.
Another study has shown that increased primary care use is associated with lower rates of preventable hospitalizations for dual eligibles age 65 and older, especially for dual eligibles with diabetes and congestive heart failure.
These studies show how primary care providers are in an ideal position to diagnose heart disease early to help drive down cost and improve the patient’s quality of life. Once diagnosed, many cardiovascular conditions can be managed at the outpatient level.
Completing a yearly diagnostic electrocardiogram (ECG) test within the primary care setting could give providers the data they need to accurately diagnose early onset of heart issues and identify abnormalities that are associated with cardiac events. It could also rule out unnecessary and costly treatment or testing if a patient’s symptoms are unrelated to cardiovascular issues.
When you look at it from the perspective of the increasing focus on the Quadruple Aim, introducing ECG testing in primary care settings makes sense. Providers can impact clinical outcomes, create more favorable healthcare experiences for patients, reduce financial impact on their organization and patients, and allow for increased staff productivity and satisfaction by standardizing and improving workflows.
While ECG is the gold standard in identifying and assessing treatment of heart disease and related conditions, it is understandable that some providers might have accuracy and workflow concerns with conducting the test within the primary care environment.
Fortunately, the technology has recently advanced to be able to effectively address those concerns. Digital ECGs, like the one available from Midmark, can provide users with a number of workflow and data efficiencies, including enabling staff to capture, review and edit test results all on one computer screen.
A digital workflow also enables data to automatically import into the patient’s electronic medical record (EMR). The software within the EMR allows providers to easily compare the patient’s current and previous ECGs. With chronic diseases like heart disease it is essential to continue monitoring ECGs over time and adjust care protocols based on those results. A digital workflow makes this comparison more seamless.
EMR connectivity not only helps streamline the flow of data, it also reduces the number of steps it takes to capture, review and save a patient's test. A traditional box ECG with an EMR workflow can require 11 steps, while a digital ECG integrated with an EMR only requires 6 steps.
In terms of accuracy, the Digital ECG from Midmark exceeds the American Heart Association (AHA) recommended standards for acquisition signal quality for the typical 12-lead ECG. Its signal-to-noise ratio reduces the potential for artifacts and can shorten ECG acquisition time.
The high signal quality generated by the Midmark Digital ECG can save clinicians time by enabling them to confidently capture a cardiac signal while the device helps eliminate errors with its digital workflow. Unlike typical ECG devices, the Midmark Digital ECG instantly captures and analyzes the 10 seconds of ECG seen on the screen so clinicians can review the full disclosure of all 10 leads. The Midmark Digital ECG brings the patient, provider and EMR together at the front line of care.
This is especially important with heart disease and obesity on the rise as well as cardiac impacts as a result of COVID-19. The need for testing is becoming more frequent to help primary care clinicians diagnose and monitor conditions affecting the heart.
To learn more about introducing ECG testing in primary care, watch this short video.