Cost-Saving Opportunities with Appropriate Utilization of Cardiac Telemetry

Am J Cardiol. 2018 Nov 1;122(9):1570-1573. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2018.07.016. Epub 2018 Aug 3.


A third of healthcare spending in the United States is considered waste, and costs are growing at an unsustainable rate. Reducing unnecessary cardiac telemetry, a costly intervention with a high potential for overuse, may be an opportunity to reduce waste. We performed a review of 250 consecutive patients admitted to telemetry capable beds on the general medical-surgical, noncritical care units. Based on the American Heart Association Practice Standards for Electrocardiographic Monitoring in Hospital Settings, appropriateness of telemetric monitoring during each inpatient day was assessed, with identification of significant new arrhythmias, code calls, and clinical decisions resulting from telemetry. Cost of a telemetry day was calculated using a time-driven activity-based cost model. Patients (63 ± 19 years, 54% male) spent a total of 1,640 days hospitalized, 1,399 (85%) of which were on telemetry. Average length of stay was 6.6 days, and average telemetry time was 5.6 days. Only 334 (24%) telemetry days were deemed appropriate based on Practice Standards. During telemetric monitoring, 16 new significant arrhythmias were detected, 4 code calls were made, and 19 significant clinical decisions were prompted by telemetry. No cardiac code call occurred on a nontelemetry day. The cost of telemetry was calculated as $34.28 more per day than a nontelemetry hospital day. Elimination of inappropriate telemetry days would result in a minimum estimated savings of $37,007 in these 250 patients, and an annual savings of $528,241 overall. Telemetric monitoring is frequently overused. In conclusion, our findings propose that a reduction in inappropriate telemetry days in accordance with the American Heart Association Practice Standards could result in significant cost savings.

MeSH terms

  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / diagnosis
  • Clinical Decision-Making
  • Clinical Deterioration
  • Cost Savings*
  • Electrocardiography
  • Female
  • Hospital Rapid Response Team / statistics & numerical data
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Louisiana
  • Male
  • Medical Overuse / economics*
  • Medical Overuse / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Economic
  • Telemetry / economics*
  • Telemetry / statistics & numerical data