Welch Allyn announced today that they've inked a deal to provide integration between their medical devices and Greenway's EMR, Practice Management, and Managed Care software products.

The integration of
Welch Allyn devices with Greenway's software will allow providers to
transmit patient data directly into electronic files that can be
transferred to an existing EHR--eliminating the need for manual data
entry by providers, increasing efficiency and alleviating the risk of
transcription and latency errors. Data that can be collected and
transmitted automatically includes multiple vitals parameters, as well
as, more complex cardiopulmonary diagnostic testing images, data
measurements and clinician test interpretation.

The thing to note here is that medical device integration with clinical information systems is substantially different from integration done in an acute care setting (i.e., hospitals). Physician offices have no IT departments and probably haven't ever heard of HL7. In this market, device vendors provide an SDK (software development kit) that software vendors like Greenway integrate into their products (with the device vendor's help, of course). This type of integration is done on a per vendor basis, and provides "plug and play" integration. Welch Allyn has built up quite a roster of EMR vendor's who have incorporated their SDK.

Medical device integration in hospitals is done using HL7, which is decidedly not plug and play. Although there is an exception to this - Philips recently introduced a line of low acuity patient monitors with HL7 straight out the Ethernet port. (You can read a brief write up from the AAMI meeting here.) This has never been done, and if you don't have the largest market share in patient monitors I wouldn't advise it.