Evaluating telemetry utilization and alarm management practices

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Optimizing processes for greater efficiency


With the expectation of a hospital-wide installation of new telemetry equipment, Huntsville Hospital wanted to conduct a current-state assessment of their telemetry monitoring program so processes could be optimized and in place when the new equipment arrived. 


Huntsville Hospital and Philips set out together to evaluate the central monitoring unit (CMU) and telemetry monitoring and alarm management practices to identify improvement opportunities in current processes so the hospital could act on improvement recommendations prior to installation.


As a result of the assessment, Philips consultants identified 23 opportunities and recommendations for performance improvement, which were detailed and presented to hospital leadership.

With a centralized monitoring room, the noise level alone is often overwhelming to technicians. The recommended changes made an immediate difference in the noise level that was noticed and felt by all, making for a much healthier and safer work environment. We feel patients are also much safer because the technicians can focus on true and valid alarms and limit the number of notifications to RNs thereby reducing their workload.” 

Wendy Cantrell, MSHR Manager, Telemetry Monitoring

Huntsville Hospital

Our approach


Elements of the effort included:


  • Data Analytics – Prior to the onsite visit, a month of telemetry data was analyzed to understand the monitoring alarm history, identify potential configuration issues, and review default settings challenges
  • Stakeholder Interviews – Onsite interviews with executive leadership, physicians, quality manager, nurse director, nurse manager, charge nurses and monitoring techs (MTs) helped to identify the issues and fully understand the culture
  • Site Assessment – Current processes were analyzed for the telemetry units and alarm management protocols to determine what was working well and where there was room for improvement
  • Review of Policies & Procedures – A thorough review of policies and procedures was completed to discover if practices adhered to policy and if actions aligned with the Joint Commission recommendations 
  • Observations – Nurses and MTs were shadowed to better understand daily routines and actual practices and to observe real-time challenges

Infographic showing culture, people, technology, and data, merging into process and practice



Numerous challenges such as lack of telemetry order guidance, poor alarm customization, and alarm fatigue were identified and considered during the course of the engagement. Based on these findings, Philips consultants identified 23 specific opportunities for improvement. The top 10 being:

  • Modify medium priority arrhythmia alarm settings
  • Improve telemetry utilization criteria
  • Establish telemetry continuation/discontinuation criteria
  • Define instructions to reduce leads off alarms
  • Clarify electrode changes and skin prep procedures
  • Clarify customization (people & practice) roles and responsibilities 
  • Establish an alarm committee
  • Modify MT alarm load and number of sectors
  • Create alarm settings & review: CMU consistency
  • Establish visual control: cardiac step-down satellite CMU station

Next steps


Upon completion of the engagement, Huntsville Hospital decided to move forward with the recommendations. When the equipment upgrade is ready for implementation, Huntsville Hospital’s telemetry monitoring program will be positioned to optimize the new technology. 

The assessment report allowed us to make changes based on true data and not merely what we “thought” were our problems and concerns.” 

Wendy Cantrell, MSHR Manager, Telemetry Monitoring

Huntsville Hospital

* Results are specific to the institution where they were obtained and may not reflect the results achievable at other institutions.

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Huntsville Hospital serves as the regional referral center for North Alabama and Southern Tennessee and is a teaching facility for the University of Alabama’s Family Practice and Internal Medicine residency programs. It is also home to one of only three statewide Level I Trauma Centers. 

Meet our team

Beth Fuller


Consulting Manager

John brings expertise in hospital operations, workflow, and process redesign. He is a regular regional and national presenter on healthcare topics including process and resource efficiency as well as use of simulation in healthcare. He is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives. His clinical expertise includes emergency care, pre-hospital care, and pediatric and adult ICU. 

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Dale Roberts

Lisa Pahl, RN, BSN, MSN

Practice Lead, Acute and Critical Care Consulting
Healthcare Transformation Services, Philips

Lisa is a recognized expert in alarm fatigue and alarm management. She is a member of the AAMI Healthcare Technology Safety Institute’s national Clinical Alarms Steering Committee and often presents on alarm management. Her clinical expertise spans Adult Critical Care, NICU and PICU, Telemetry, ED, OR, and PACU and past nursing positions included Critical Care, Telemetry/Step Down, Med/Surg, Float Pool, and Home Health.

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