Guest post by Stuart Long, Chief Marketing & Sales Officer, Capsule Tech, Inc.
Imagine information from your patient monitors, infusion pumps and ventilators speeding over the hospital network directly into the EMR. Consider the efficiencies and cost savings as device data auto-populates each field. Picture the satisfaction of caregivers as they abandon pens, clipboards and manual data recording—as well as the repetitive process of re-keying that information into an electronic system.
In most hospitals, the barrier to this vision is that point-of-care devices simply are not designed to share information electronically. With vendor specific interfaces and proprietary protocols, they co-exist but lack a way to communicate with IT systems or other equipment. In short, each type of medical device often speaks a language of its own.
True point-of-care interoperability for medical devices with an open interface and common communications standards to send data directly to information system vendors – is simply not available today. And while an excellent goal, achieving this in a timeframe that will satisfy hospitals seeking a solution in the near future will be difficult. Implementation of a shared data standard among competing vendors is not a simple task, and even if a standard were adopted, hospitals will be burdened with having to replace existing devices to accomplish enterprise-wide interoperability.
Medical Device Integration (MDI) is a solution that solves the hospital’s need for medical device data to be in a patient’s electronic record thus achieving many of the same goals. Important differences are that MDI is practical and available – today.
Specifically, the term Medical Device Integration denotes the automated integration of data from multiple point-of-care devices into healthcare IT systems such as an EMR or departmental IT solutions. MDI does not require that all devices must share a common interface or communications standard. Instead, MDI connects a wide range of equipment at the bedside to the hospital network and functions as a translator of sorts, standardizing data output into a single format as needed for specific systems. Once accomplished, a hospital will benefit from the same compatibility among devices as it would with anticipated device interoperability, where devices would speak the same native language.
A vendor neutral MDI solution provides connectivity for a full range of device types across multiple vendors with the ability to work on a facility’s existing IT infrastructure and with the current clinical workflow. In particular, MDI means greater accuracy of patient information through elimination of the human transcription errors that occur during manual transcription. Also, inputting information into a system is often unintentionally delayed resulting in untimely data for clinical decision making. But with automated delivery, patient information can be available in near real time allowing for accessibility to a full range of clinicians hospital-wide and care givers beyond the enterprise.
With enhanced data quality due to device integration, hospitals may realize enhanced clinical decision making and patient safety with fewer diagnostic and treatment errors. They may avoid redundant testing due to unavailable records, improved treatment efficiencies and continuity of care across shifts as well as better use of clinical staff time and faster, more focused workflow.
In addition to improving patient care quality, automation of data into an EMR supports greater clinician satisfaction by reducing manual charting obligations and giving time back to caregivers to spend on patient care, enjoy better patient relationships and increase job satisfaction. Patients and families often receive better experiences as a result of higher quality interaction with clinicians and greater and timelier information about patient condition.
All this adds up to better quality patient information, which in turn carries a host of benefits. Medical data drives patient treatment, measures its impact and suggests continued therapies. If this data is not precise, the quality of care and safety suffers.
Both device interoperability and medical device integration strive for efficiency and safety; but the fact of the matter is – only one solution is available. In short, Device Integration is a win-win strategy from multiple perspectives—and happily one that can be implemented today.
Stuart Long is Chief Marketing and Sales Officer at Capsule Tech, Inc., with over 20 years of experience in both the clinical and business aspects of healthcare and information technology.