HealthLeaders-magazine-Sept-2007

Yours truly was quoted in a HealthLeaders technology story about, you guessed it, medical device connectivity.

Information technology consultant Tim Gee has a nontechnical description of the current state of connecting medical devices to clinical information systems: “It’s a mess.” Not that direct data capture from medical devices is impossible; some hospitals have been exporting data from devices into clinical information systems for years. But as Gee and other experts point out, the effort can be so confounding that many hospitals don’t even try. Even in highly automated inpatient settings, a common method of data capture from the plethora of monitors, pumps and ventilators is good old pen and paper. Someone, often a nurse, writes down the value and either logs it on paper or re-enters the data online.

The writer, Gary Baldwin, must have caught me on a bad day, it seems I couldn’t say anything nice about anyone.

Trinity exemplifies the industry’s challenge in capturing data directly from medical devices. The health system maintains more than 2,000 physiologic monitors and 9,750 IV pumps, says Kini, adding that the equipment comes from at least five different manufacturers. In this scenario, the key problem, Gee contends, is the absence of industry standards for how data is formatted and exported from the devices. Even devices from the same manufacturer may vary, he says. “Unless a device has the identical model number, the protocol may change,” he says. “To the medical device vendor, their product is the center of the universe. The idea of connectivity is one that vendors have to be pushed kicking and screaming into by their customers.”Hospitals have been willing accomplices up to now, Gee acknowledges. “Most hospital IT departments don’t think about data capture from devices,” he says. “They suffer from the same perspective vendors have. The IT department figures nurses will just type in the data.”

Gary also interviews Julian Goldman, who lends his more soothing perspective to the challenges of connectivity.

Be sure to read the whole thing.