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Interoperability Standards Clean Up the Messy Middle

Healthcare professionals all agree that getting the right data to the right people at the right time is essential to safe, effective care for their patients.

Some of the most critical data comes from medical devices, and direct communication of that data improves accuracy and timeliness over charting by busy hospital staff. However, for many medical devices data output has been an extra, an additional feature that was optional or low priority. As a result, data output protocols and formats were mostly proprietary and inconsistent.

Using these proprietary protocols to populate the medical record, or to feed into decision support systems, requires extra time, effort and costs for each healthcare IT organization. Creating the semantic translation and mapping, from each custom device protocol is timing-consuming and error-prone. The complexity and one-off approach is one of the primary obstacles for medical device integration into hospital data systems.

Unique proprietary communication protocols require hospitals to install gateway solutions or a third-party integration solutions. This solves the problem of integrating data but adds costs for the additional solution and adds complexity to the device installation. It overburdens hospital IT departments, complicates and delays use by clinicians and may increase sales cycle time.

The ideal approach to providing connectivity is for the medical device to connect and output data in a way that is understood by data consumer systems such as patient records and decision support tools. This would eliminate nearly all of the extra cost and time for a healthcare organization to integrate data from new technology.

The key to making this happen is if medical devices communicate using standard communication protocols and data formats, and that data consumers such as EMR systems understand and correctly map data sent this way. In fact these standards exists for many types of medical devices and most major EMR systems and many other data consumers can integrate data communicated in this standardized way.

So why wouldn’t a device manufacturer include the connectivity standard in their device. Here are some reasons:

  • Connectivity is not in their focus and they do not have the awareness team or resources to invest in implementing the standard

  • Concern about cybersecurity risks and mitigation once their device connects to the network

  • Impact to regulatory submissions and timelines when data communication software is inside the device

InnoVision Medical Technologies is an expert on Medical Device Connectivity and is highly engaged in the standards development community. Our software solutions encapsulate the standard details. We assure that we are up to date by participating I IHE working groups and testing our interoperability at IHE Connectathons. Our interoperability library software can be embedded inside the medical device to help devices become truly plug and play in the hospital environment. We also package that software in Gateway boxes and can build a connector to translate proprietary data into standards-based communication.

Our goal is to simplify medical device interoperability for medical device suppliers, and for their hospital customers.

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