The profound lack of access to EEG outside of urban academic centers is a substantial health disparity. Most rural and suburban hospitals do not have the EEG equipment or trained staff available to obtain and read EEG studies. Thus, they must transfer patients who need EEG monitoring to a medical center that can provide these diagnostic services.
These transfers delay diagnosis and treatment, burden patients and families, and increase healthcare costs and lengths of stay.
As this article will show, even the smallest rural hospitals can provide their patients with high-quality, cost-effective, sustainable EEG using modern technologies and remote services.
Lack of Staff is an Insurmountable Barrier to EEG Access in Rural Areas
In a lecture presented at the ASET 2022 Annual Conference, Dr. Suzette LaRoche highlighted the disparities in access to neurodiagnostic technology faced by patients in rural areas. As per Dr. LaRoche’s insights, it is no secret that neurologists tend to practice in urban areas. More specifically, they cluster in large academic medical centers. A small community hospital in a rural area likely doesn’t have a neurologist or an EEG technologist on staff. The hospital may not even have EEG equipment. Consequently, every patient who needs EEG either doesn’t get this critical study or must be transferred to another hospital. Medium-sized hospitals may have a general neurologist on staff, but a dearth of techs. Moreover, even if the hospital employs neurologists and EEG techs, they are usually only available from 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. Even large community hospitals with neurologists and perhaps even epileptologists struggle with EEG tech coverage. Hiring more neurologists and EEG techs is not the answer—they are simply not enough of them who choose to work in rural and exurban areas.
Overcoming Barriers to Rural EEG
Dr. LaRoche identifies the following factors as the main obstacles to EEG testing in rural areas:
- No trained technician is available on site to perform the EEG study
- No one to read or interpret the EEG study (i.e., no neurologists or epileptologists)
- No EEG equipment
If you cannot get neurologists and EEG techs to work in rural areas, how do you adequately care for patients? The solution is to change the way we obtain and read EEGs:
- Use rapid EEG devices that can be correctly placed by any medical staff member in minutes
- Record EEG studies to the cloud so that they can be read remotely by board-certified neurologists
- Use an EEG system that integrates video with EEG recording for remote review
- Use remote EEG and cEEG monitoring and remote EEG reading services
As remote medicine continues to become commonplace, we expect to see a rise in remote EEG monitoring companies, and expanded opportunities for remote EEG techs.
Zeto Brings EEG to Rural Hospitals
Zeto EEG is a wireless, adjustable EEG headset with integrated dry electrodes. Zeto offers a rapid full montage EEG solution and might be used for cEEG for up to 4 hours and for routine EEG.
If an EEG technologist is not available, any medical staff can correctly place the EEG headset in minutes (the average setup time is 5 minutes) with minimal training. It’s possible to use cross-trained personnel such as a nurse, medical assistant, or respiratory specialist. The Zeto team trains onsite and offers remote support.
The Zeto headset wirelessly sends EEG recordings to the cloud so the data can be monitored in real-time by anyone who has access to the HIPAA-compliant cloud platform. In situations where in-house registered EEG technologists are unavailable, Zeto is partnering with accredited EEG remote monitoring services that provide live remote video monitoring at an hourly flat rate.
Even a family medicine physician who is the closest doctor to the patient can carry out an EEG test using Zeto’s remote video monitoring service after being trained by Zeto,
If the rural hospital has a neurologist on staff, that professional can review the EEG from a medical office or from home. If a neurologist is not available, Zeto offers an EEG reading service staffed by board-certified neurologists.
Also, Zeto has recently implemented FDA-cleared seizure detection software, a robust tool that provides automatic pattern notification to detect critical events and notify medical staff and neurologists.
Zeto can bring cost-effective remote EEG services to any size hospital even if there are no EEG technologists or neurologists on staff. Indeed, Zeto’s rapid full-montage EEG headset could eliminate a major health disparity that currently plagues rural hospitals.
Source: The blog is inspired by a lecture by Suzette LaRoche, M.D., FACNS, FAAN
“Disparities in Access to Neurodiagnostic Technology” presented at the ASET 2022 Annual Conference