With the advent of inexpensive laptop computers, and powerful, fast external connections, such as USB, the medical device manufacturers are beginning to realize that there are benefits in using laptop computers as the main processing and display unit for many medical diagnostic devices. PC based ECG units are no exceptions.
There are several reasons why PC ECG/EKG makes sense. We will look at a number of them here: Physicians using laptop carts already, laptops becoming highly reliable, laptops featuring large screens, laptops saving money on expensive dedicated equipment, ability to mix and match software and hardware, and using off-the-shelf printers.
Laptop carts already in use by hospital beds
It turns out that hospital staff, physicians and nurses have already discovered that there is a place for a versatile laptop computer on top of a medication cart. Cardiac tamponade ECG So laptop carrying medication carts are already a common place in hospitals. Therefore, adding an ECG device which connects to the laptop already present on the medication cart is just a small addition to the existing system.
Off-the-shelf laptops are becoming highly reliable
Clearly, for life saving procedures, any medical equipment involved must be nearly 100% reliable. Fortunately, the times of frequent “blue screen of death” and times of unreliable operating systems have come and gone. Today’s laptops feature operating systems that are robust, and will not let you down easily. Sure enough, it still makes sense NOT to overload a laptop used for ECG monitor with unneeded software, and not to attach unneeded devices, as this could cause unwanted software interactions, and malfunctions. But a dedicated laptop, with just the software and just the firmware needed for its daily functions, will operate reliably.
Today’s laptops have large screens
This can be a significant benefit when it comes to PC based ECG machine – the larger readouts can pinpoint anomalies in the heart rhythm that one would not discover using a low resolution screen on a small, dedicated ECG monitor.
Hospitals can realize savings by not using expensive specialized equipment
In the age of reducing hospital expenditures, any savings realized by using off-the-shelf PC and laptop computers as PC ECG will go a long way toward improving the bottom line of a modern hospital. Using a single laptop as a central processing and display unit for ECG monitors, pulse oximeters, blood pressure sensors, and more, goes a long way toward reducing the overall costs and replacement costs of hospital equipment.
Physicians may like to match software ECG components with hardware ECG equipment
Not all ECG hardware is created equal, and neither is all ECG software. Some are better suited for some ECG monitoring measurements, other for other. Using a laptop as a main processing and display unit for ECG measurements, a physician can decide to mix and match PC ECG software and hardware, to achieve the best overall performance. The doctor is not “locked in” into a vendor just because they like one component of the system.
Finally, one can use off-the-shelf printers
Even today, in the age of paperless offices, and paperless hospitals, having a heart beat images printed on paper can be a big help in deciphering what exactly the ECG diagram is showing. The physician is going to be able to focus better with a high resolution printout, versus a lower resolution laptop screen. Clearly, using a laptop as the central processing unit for a PC ECG monitor, one can attach a quality low cost black and white or color laser printer to produce ECG printouts that are of highest possible resolution.