How to Choose the Best ECG Machine for Your Practice?
Updated: Nov 16, 2021
An electrocardiogram machine — ECG or EKG, for short — is one of the most versatile medical monitoring machines one can get to expand their practice. The device is an important tool to monitor a patient’s heart rhythms, helping cardiologists diagnose heart abnormalities, poor blood flow, cardiac failure, and more.
As such, this vital sign machine is indispensable for hospitals or diagnostic clinics that aim to provide comprehensive services to their patients. Purchasing an ECG machine is a worthy investment indeed, but it can be a daunting one if you’re just a small practice looking to expand.
The right model for your clinic all depends on your financial and functional needs. To help you find the best ECG machine, we’ve come up with a buying guide to help you with your purchase.
What are the main types of ECG?
At its core, electrocardiogram machines use electrodes placed on the skin to trace the electrical impulse from the heart, which regulates and maintains its beating pace. However, there are many types of ECG machines, which vary in size and use.
Resting ECG machine
Used when a patient is at rest and lying down for an appointment, this type of ECG machine is the most commonly used in general practices. Resting electrocardiographs measure a patient’s general health, helping pinpoint any cardiovascular issues that may be present.
Stress Test ECG Machine
Unlike the resting type, ECG machines that are made for stress tests are used when a patient is performing physical activity. Usually, they would be doing an increasingly intense exercise on a treadmill or stationary bike. Therefore, stress test ECG machines are connected to fewer electrodes, which would also sometimes measure blood pressure and respiratory rate.
PC-based ECG Machine
On the other hand, PC-based ECG machines, feature a more compact and portable system. After collecting impulse events with the connected electrodes, this type of ECG allows you to transfer the data directly to your computer for review and storage.
Bluetooth ECG Machine
Another space-saving option you can check out is the Bluetooth ECG machine, which also records the patient’s heart signals with electrodes connected to a small acquisition device. Using a Bluetooth connection, the monitoring can be shown on an Android tablet and the results can also be printed directly to a Bluetooth printer. This type of electrocardiogram machine can also help with remote or on-the-go monitoring in mobile clinics or ambulances.
Holter ECG Machine
The Holter ECG machine can be used by health professionals to monitor a patient’s heart activity for a longer time, usually 24 hours. Worn by a patient, a Holter monitor is used when data gathered from a standard, in-clinic ECG test isn’t enough to diagnose the patient.
What ECG machine parts or models to consider?
Before anything else, we need to understand the differences between electrodes, channels, and leads — all important components that can clarify your reading of an ECG result.
Electrodes, specifically, are conductive pads that detect the electrical impulses of the heart. They are placed in specific parts of the body, on the chest, wrists, or ankles so the heart activity can be viewed from different angles.
For ECG types made for portability, mobility, or longer-term use, fewer electrodes are used for ease of movement. However, the more electrodes you get makes your diagnostics more precise, so you need to decide which of those two you need to prioritize for your practice.
Aside from the number of electrodes, you also need to take into account the variety you get. Would you need to get electrodes for pediatric patients or are you only focusing on adult patients? You also need to consider the fixation method, and whether you’re going for reusable or single-use electrodes.
Number of ECG Leads & Channels
The voltage differences measured between two of these electrodes are called the ECG leads. Once lead measurements are processed, they pass through a channel to be recorded. A single-channel system would display each lead measurement one at a time, while a multi-channel system can show the signals measured by the numerous leads in groups.
To illustrate, a 3-channel ECG machine with 12 leads will process the signals three at a time. Aside from single- and 3-channel varieties, ECG machines also come in 6- and 12-channel options. The more channels you get, the faster would your ECG monitoring be.
What are other features you need to consider?
Screen Size & Input Options
For healthcare establishments with limited spaces, perhaps an ECG machine with a more compact screen is more convenient than a large one with increased viewability. Aside from that, it’s important to take note if the ECG machine allows input of patient data for efficiency. Apart from models with built-in keyboards and touch screens that allow typing, some electrocardiogram machines allow the connection of a USB keyboard for this purpose.
Consider as well if you would need an electrocardiogram machine with a built-in printer or not. If you choose one with such, make sure to find out if it requires special graph sheets or if plain ones would suffice. For storage flexibility, you can also opt for ECG machines that export data into PDF files, allowing you to print findings on any regular printer at a later time.
To make diagnosis easier for health professionals, it would be great if your ECG machine comes with complete interpretation software. Other technical features like detectors and alarms that notify you when a lead is off can help with your monitoring as well.
Storage & Connectivity
Some models come with internal storage that makes results available for printing at a later time. Other types like PC-based and Holter ECG machines also have connectivity features, allowing you to transfer data to another device through USB, Bluetooth, or even via file transfer using FTP protocol.
Finally, know if the model you’re eyeing can run on battery power in case a power disconnection occurs. Consider too how fast your device can charge and how long it can run on battery, especially if you’re opting for portable ECG machines.
Get the perfect ECG Machine for your clinic
Need more buying tips in finding an electrocardiogram machine? Care 4 Life is here to help. Since 2005, we’ve been helping healthcare establishments around the country source high-quality medical equipment.
More than just helping you find the right ECG machine, we can also aid in providing accessories compatible with your unit. Additionally, our engineers can help you with the necessary calibration needed to maintain your equipment for years to come.
See the best ECG machines available in the Philippines in action. Send us a message for a live demo today!