7 Factors to Consider When Purchasing a New Telemetry System

ECG heart monitor screen

Like other types of cardiac monitoring, wireless telemetry systems provide early detection of dangerous arrhythmias and other cardiac events. A wireless monitor allows patients in lower acuity care units the freedom to move around the floor without the constrictions of a wired ECG system. According to the National Telemetry Association, wireless telemetry monitoring also increases healthcare worker efficiency and reduces staffing costs.

Wireless telemetry devices periodically sample the heart’s electrical signals, then analyze the data via AI algorithms. Based on sampling from 3-6 leads, the algorithm predicts heart rhythm patterns and changes in patient health. The latest HIPAA-compliant telemetry monitors can take continuous sample recordings, making real-time cardiac data continuously available. When the algorithm detects an abnormality, the telemetry system sends alerts to warn clinicians in advance about potentially dangerous cardiac events.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the growing prevalence of chronic and acute diseases, and an aging population have increasingly burdened health systems and clinicians. To streamline workflows for providers and nurses, the need for wireless monitoring has rapidly expanded beyond cardiac care.

Research conducted in 2020 shows the global hospital telemetry market expanding at a compound annual growth rate of 11.3%, reaching an estimated $1.4 billion by 2026. This indicates that purchasing agents must dedicate an increasing amount of capital budgets to telemetry equipment. Buyers should consider the following 7 factors when investing in new telemetry systems for a hospital or health system.

1. Coverage requirements

Large healthcare systems should seek out telemetry systems designed for a range of low-acuity and intermediate care settings, such as step-down units, cardiac units, minimally invasive surgical settings, and some ICU environments. Leading telemetry systems, such as Phillips IntelliVue and GE Apex Pro FH, can support significant square footage covering 500-1200 hospital beds.

Systems designed for centralized monitoring can work well for smaller hospitals and specialized medical centers. These settings may only need coverage for a handful of units where clinicians can remain in relative proximity to the workstation.

2. Data scope and availability

Most telemetry systems include a dedicated clinician workstation and basic EHR integration. When purchasing a telemetry system for a larger hospital or healthcare network, consider a platform that offers both centralized and decentralized patient monitoring. These systems incorporate portal technology that integrates telemetry data with other cardiac data, such as a 12-lead EKG and additional medical information. Clinicians can connect to the portal via the workstation or a mobile access point for up-to-date patient data and insights derived from the systems’ biomedical algorithms.

3. Monitor features and specifications

Some systems support multiple patient monitor models, including older models. Purchasing agents for large healthcare organizations should consider monitors that offer customizable configuration options—this can help avoid future capital equipment costs if the need for wireless cardiac monitoring expands to additional units.

Review all monitor features and specs carefully, including:

  • Pre-programmed operational modes
  • Battery life
  • Number of leads
  • Monitor weight

The battery life, durability, and weight of specific monitors affect whether the device functions well in certain circumstances, such as during patient transport. Ideally, the system should allow for monitor alarm configuration to clinic-specific protocols and individual patient metrics.

4. Ease of use

The primary function of a telemetry system is to improve workflows for skilled clinicians. A system that causes a headache for nurses will have the opposite effect. Ask questions about field use before committing to purchase a new system, such as:

  • What is required for staff training?
  • What kind of tech support is available?
  • Are monitor controls/touch screens easy to read and operate?
  • Does it require manual conversion of EHR parameters?
  • Are the device menus and central workstation software intuitive?

Ask the vendor if the nursing staff can test the telemetry monitor on the floor to determine how well it functions during actual field use.

5. Interoperability

Integration with other data devices is a significant benefit of a full-scale telemetry system. That integration should feel as seamless as possible. Look for systems that contain a standardized communications protocol designed to streamline communication with wired bedside monitors.

Adopting a wireless system of the same brand as currently owned vitals monitoring assets can make integration smoother. But many leading telemetry options work well with other brands. Either way, robust, readily available tech support from the vendor or OEM is essential to keep data integration from causing unnecessary problems or downtime.

6. Scalability

Growing health systems serve the same patients driving the expansion of the telemetry industry. Cross-departmental, highly configurable systems supporting high bed volume can best accommodate expanding telemetry needs. These systems can be implemented as needed for single departments, multiple floors, and facility-wide use. At any level, they provide comprehensive integration with EHR and other devices via scalable, same-brand network infrastructure products. For example, the IntelliVue Information Center iX or the GE Digital Centralized Monitoring Unit.

7. Price

The purchase price of a telemetry system depends on capacity, modularity, interoperability, EHR integration, monitor features, numbers of leads, durability, and other factors. Lower-cost monitors and localized systems may work well in low-acuity settings where fewer leads are required, and specialty modules aren’t necessary. The medium through higher-end systems offer more flexibility, interoperability, and data recording capabilities.

Remember that the purchase price doesn’t reflect the total cost of ownership (TCO) of telemetry devices.

These factors also affect the long-range costs of patient monitoring systems:

  • Cost of leads, batteries, and other consumables
  • Availability and cost of software and hardware upgrades
  • Warranty terms and duration
  • Additional servicing contracts
  • Revenue lost to device downtime
  • Repairs (parts, labor, shipping)
  • Availability of quality replacement parts

High quality replacement parts, such as the Apex Pro FH case assembly or the Phillips MX40 battery door cover, can help extend telemetry box lifespan. To learn more about medical device ownership, download our free guide now which provides insider tips for calculating TCO.

Elite Biomedical Solutions is an ISO 13485 certified, FDA-registered manufacturer of OEM+ quality biomedical equipment. Call the office or reach out via email to learn more about partnering with Elite for exceptional telemetry parts manufactured proudly in the USA.

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