Portland is fortunate to be home to a number of top notch health care delivery organizations; Legacy Health System is one of them. I had a chance to meet with two of their IT folks to specialize in medical device connectivity, and wrote a story about their recent experiences that came out in yesterday's Health IT World e-newsletter. There are many reasons why hospitals integrate medical devices into paperless charting systems - systems ranging from flow sheets to $20 million EMRs. Here is the reason they do it at Legacy:

The success of point-of-care information systems
relies on user adoption. Legacy Health System learned some time ago
that users expect data from medical devices to be automatically
acquired into the information system. Without this integration, users
are left asking, "What's in it for me?" After all, we are talking about
automation, right?

This particular situation was prompted by the construction of a new hospital, Legacy Salmon Creek. This new hospital is one of the "most paperless" (least paperful?) hospitals in the area, and Legacy wanted to push the envelope with their medical device connectivity.

In the past, medical device integration at Legacy
Health System was done via point-to-point serial connections between
bedside medical devices and a computer, also located at the bedside.
For this new hospital, the integration team wanted to move to a
networked architecture. Like most medical device selection processes,
devices for Legacy Salmon Creek Hospital were selected by committees
comprised mostly of clinicians and organized by clinical area. Once all
devices were selected, the integration team had less than two months to
configure, install, and test all the interfaces before the hospital's

The story contains lots of good "best practices" for medical device connectivity. And thanks to Alan Rosenfeld and Peter Gould for sharing their experiences with me.