Context: During the COVID-19 pandemic, essential in-person electrocardiogram (ECG) recordings became unfeasible, while patients continued to suffer from cardiac conditions. To circumvent these challenges, the cardiology clinic (Long Island Heart Rhythm Center [LIHRC]) at the New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM) transitioned to a remote real-time outpatient cardiac telemetry (ROCT) service.
Objectives: The goal of this study is to test the hypothesis that at-home ROCT, provided by the LIHRC, is an effective method of providing ECG monitoring to symptomatic patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Methods: Seventeen patients at the LIHRC that required ECGs between March 11 and August 1, 2020, were included in this study. The patients’ medical records were de-identified and reviewed for age, gender, ROCT indications, findings, patient comfort, and ease of use. A retrospective analysis of observational de-identified data obtained from the LIHRC was approved and permitted by the NYITCOM Institutional Review Board (BHS-1465). These FDA-cleared medical devices (DMS-300, DM Software, Stateline, NV) were shipped to the patients’ homes and were self-applied through adhesive chest patches. The devices communicated with a cloud-based system that produced reports including a continuous 6-lead ECG and many other cardiovascular parameters. Additionally, a patient-activated symptom recorder was available to correlate symptoms to ECG findings.
Results: Seventeen patients (15 women) from the LIHRC were included in the analysis with an average monitoring duration of 27 h (range, 24–72 h). The patients’ ages ranged from 21 to 85 years old with a mean of 37 years old and a standard deviation of 19. ROCT indications included palpitations (n=9), presyncope (n=8), chest pain (n=5), syncope (n=3), and shortness of breath (n=2). One also received ROCT due to short PR intervals observed on a prepandemic ECG. Two patients experienced palpitations while wearing the ROCT device: one had supraventricular tachycardia at 150 beats per minute; the other had unifocal premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) and eventually underwent a successful cardiac ablation. Most patients experienced no symptomatic episodes during ROCT (n=15). The 6-lead ROCT ECG for five of those patients showed arrhythmias including wandering atrial pacemaker (n=2), PVCs (n=2), sinus tachycardia (n=1), premature atrial contractions (PACs) (n=1), ectopic atrial rhythms (n=1), and sinus arrhythmia (n=1). One patient who experienced issues with our device was able to obtain a device from a separate clinic and was found to have bradycardia, PVCs, and nonsustained ventricular tachycardia. Overall, 16/17 (94.1%) patients were monitored effectively with the LIHRC ROCT system, and all (17/17, 100%) patients were monitored effectively with a ROCT system either from the LIHRC or a separate clinic.
Conclusions: With the unique challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, physicians can use this innovative ROCT method to prevent infection and diagnose cardiac diseases. Most patients and staff were able to utilize the system without issues. Therefore, this system may also be utilized to deliver patient-centered care to those with limited mobility when coupled with a telemedicine visit.