The Mainstreaming of Medical Device Integration

Medical device integration (MDI) is a solutions-based process by which data from myriad medical devices are captured and integrated into an end-point system, such as an electronic health record. Proponents of MDI say that such solutions reduce data errors; save countless hours in manual data collection; and increase the efficiency of providers through more frequent and current updates.

Meaningful Use requirements and a desire to improve patient safety and quality have driven many hospitals and health systems to purchase or strongly consider purchasing MDI solutions. As author John Zaleski, PhD. CPHIMS, writes in the introduction of his new book Connected Medical Devices: Integrating Patient Care Data in Healthcare Systems (HIMSS Books, 2015):

Medical device data collection has increasingly become a part of the fabric of health IT system deployment. Data gathered from medical devices is often used as a supplement for manual charting and provides a more complete, stabile, and accurate means of communicating information from medical devices associated with the patient to recipient health IT systems to augment bedside clinical decision making. Integrating data from medical devices at the POC is particularly important for technologically-dependent patients, such as in operating room or intensive care unit settings, or in cases in which a reliable means of regular data capture would assist the clinical decision-making process.

Though easy to define and with results that appear fairly straight-forward, MDI, like any number of health IT solutions, gets much more complicated at the level of adoption and implementation.

Today, many medical devices are standalone and still do not conform to specific messaging interface standards (such as HL7) but, rather, rely on proprietary, vendor-specific interface communication. Many medical devices communicate over serial ports and require medical device intermediaries to translate proprietary data from medical devices at the POC into a more standardized communication and messaging format acceptable for health IT systems. Proprietary, medical device manufacturer-specific interfaces also imply proprietary semantics that need to be translated into a common language and represent data collected that carries both consistent and enter­prise clinical meaning.

In addition to writing two previous books and numerous peer-reviewed papers on medical device data integration, John has more than 25 years’ experience in medical device research, design, and development, and is the named inventor or co-inventor on seven patents related to medical device interoperability.

If you are seeking practical and efficient guidance to break ground on an MDI solution in your hospital or health system, Connected Medical Devices is the ideal place to start.

About Nancy Vitucci

Nancy Vitucci is manager of publications at HIMSS. Her responsibilities include books, eNewsletters, the monthly HIMSS Insider and Business Insider and the onsite bookstore at HIMSS Annual Conference & Exhibition.
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