FAA ECG Modernization Project

Expected August 8, 2014 Deployment

Jul 30, 2014

by John Ogle, MD, MPH, FACEP

Commercial Pilot / USAF Flight Surgeon

Background Brief:

FAA is updating ECG upload options for Senior AMEs.

Rationale for Modernization:

Happily, the FAA is updating their ECG transmission policies for the following reasons:

  1. On September 30, 2014 the support contract the FAA has with an existing vendor will expire, and they state that it cannot be renewed.
  2. The FAA admits that the technology used to receive ECGs is antiquated (most of us in the trenches agree!); the existing system relies on the use of modems to receive ECG data from AMEs. The analog technology required by modems is becoming increasingly difficult to acquire.
  3. Equipment used by the FAA to capture ECG data has improved vastly since they deployed the current ECG system. There are far more ECG equipment vendors from which to select, should you be required to purchase new equipment.

— FlightPhysical.com

To prepare for this new ECG system, you should know the following:

  • Using AMCS AMEs will attach the completed resting ECG reports in PDF format (Portable Document Format) to the exam information submitted to the FAA. If an ECG is required of the applicant, you must attach the ECG reports (in PDF format) in order to submit the exam information.
  • If your current equipment or medical support systems support export of PDF ECG reports, there is no need to upgrade your existing ECG equipment. Likely this will be the case for the majority of current senior AMEs.
  • If your existing cardiology systems and equipment are not capable of exporting a PDF ECG report, the FAA states that you have four options:
    1. Digitize (scan) the paper ECG and save in PDF format. Attach the PDF file to the application via AMCS. Please note - applicant processing may be delayed if image quality of the scanned image is unacceptable.
    2. Acquire new ECG equipment (see below);
    3. Contact your cardiology system vendor for availability of utilities to export to PDF;
    4. Acquire cloud-based virtual ECG services to perform ECGs which render PDF reports on your AMCS workstation. Any service you use should provide you with a PDF file for each ECG they perform for your airman.
  • AMCS Support Desk personnel can assist with AMCS usage, however they are unable to assist you with the acquisition or configuration of ECG equipment, communications, integration, or how to use ECG equipment to generate a PDF report. The equipment manufacturer is the appropriate contact for this support. If you have IT support in your office they may be able to assist you.
  • The FAA's target date for deploying the new system is on or around August 8, 2014.
  • The FAA will take the current ECG system offline no later than September 22, 2014.

Changes to AMCS

Changes to AMCS to support the attachment of PDF ECG reports are minimal. There will be a new icon (likely an image of a paper clip) in the left toolbar of each page in AMCS. Upon deployment, this icon is to be used only to attach ECGs when required. Additionally on the Search Applicants page of AMCS, there will be an Attach ECG tool so you may attach an ECG for those applicants requiring an ECG. Important - if an ECG is required for the applicant, you will not be able to submit exam information via AMCS until you attach the PDF ECG report file.

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There are many ECG cloud service providers, but one vendor is leading the pack with certification and all requisite approvals, CardioComm (PDF)

AMEs continually update, modernize and increase efficiency and quality of their practices. The FAA is finally upgrading a legacy system. Transitions are sometimes tough, but this one is very welcomed, stay tuned...