Appl Clin Inform 2021; 12(05): 996-1001
DOI: 10.1055/s-0041-1736338
Research Article

Harnessing the Electronic Health Record to Actively Support Providers with Guideline-Directed Telemetry Use

Maya Narayanan
1  Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, United States
Helene Starks
2  Department of Bioethics and Humanities, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, United States
Eric Tanenbaum
3  Department of Internal Medicine, Washington State University College of Medicine, Swedish Medical Center, Seattle, Washington, United States
Ellen Robinson
4  Department of Quality Improvement, Harborview Medical Center, Seattle, Washington, United States
Paul R. Sutton
1  Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, United States
Anneliese M. Schleyer
1  Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, United States
› Author Affiliations


Background Overuse of cardiac telemetry monitoring (telemetry) can lead to alarm fatigue, discomfort for patients, and unnecessary medical costs. Currently there are evidence-based recommendations describing appropriate telemetry use, but many providers are unaware of these guidelines.

Objectives At our multihospital health system, our goal was to support providers in ordering telemetry on acute care in accordance with evidence-based guidelines and discontinuing telemetry when it was no longer medically indicated.

Methods We implemented a multipronged electronic health record (EHR) intervention at two academic medical centers, including: (1) an order set requiring providers to choose an indication for telemetry with a recommended duration based on American Heart Association guidelines; (2) an EHR-generated reminder page to the primary provider recommending telemetry discontinuation once the guideline-recommended duration for telemetry is exceeded; and (3) documentation of telemetry interpretation by telemetry technicians in the notes section of the EHR. To determine the impact of the intervention, we compared number of telemetry orders actively discontinued prior to discharge and telemetry duration 1 year pre- to 1 year post-intervention on acute care medicine services. We evaluated sustainability at years 2 and 3.

Results Implementation of the EHR initiative resulted in a statistically significant increase in active discontinuation of telemetry orders prior to discharge: 15% (63.4–78.7%) at one site and 13% at the other (64.1–77.4%) with greater improvements on resident teams. Fewer acute care medicine telemetry orders were placed on medicine services across the system (1,503–1,305) despite an increase in admissions and the average duration of telemetry decreased at both sites (62 to 47 hours, p < 0.001 and 73 to 60, p < 0.001, respectively). Improvements were sustained 2 and 3 years after intervention.

Conclusion Our study showed that a low-cost, multipart, EHR-based intervention with active provider engagement and no additional education can decrease telemetry usage on acute care medicine services.

Protection of Human and Animal Subjects

The University of Washington Human Subjects reviewed our application and determined that our study does not involve “human subjects” as defined by federal regulation and that it does not require exempt status or institutional review board review. Animal subjects were not included in this research.

Publication History

Received: 15 April 2021

Accepted: 04 September 2021

Publication Date:
27 October 2021 (online)

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