Last week I received a direct mail from ECRI following up from the AAMI meeting, recently held in Washington, DC. (You can read posts from the 2006 AAMI meeting - day one, exhibits, day two, and day three.) Amongst the usual direct mail stuff that merits a glance on the way to the trash can, I came across a veritable jewel.

During AAMI, ECRI did a survey where they asked questions about RFID adoption, “smart” pump adoption, integrating patient monitoring networks with hospital IT networks, and often rumored reorganization of Biomedical Engineering under IT. They hit all the hot button issues, didn’t they?

Here’s my summary of ECRI’s survey.

  • Regarding RFID: 60% of the respondents either don’t know or don’t have plans for RFID. Almost 40% have either implemented or are working to implement RFID. I wonder how many hospitals are adopting RFID for a departmental information system (like Picis Ibex PulseCheck, or Surgical Information Systsems) that Biomeds aren’t aware of?
  • Almost 70% of hospitals have adopted “smart” infusion pumps. It is amazing how quickly an installed base can be replaced when most of them are leased rather than owned. “Smart” pumps aren’t really very smart yet, so there will be many changes (and some false starts) as vendors feel their way – hospitals should be taking steps so they won’t be left holding the bag.
  • I might have worded the patient monitoring network question a little differently. Almost half of respondents are combining IT and patient monitoring networks; only 20% have considered it or decided not to take the plunge. From this I would guess that Philips and to a lesser degree, GE are feeling some pressure to go WiFi across the board. By limiting the question to patient monitoring, latency and reliability requirements are emphasized. I suspect that if all wireless medical devices were included, the group running a combined network would be even larger. It won’t be too many years before vent and IV pump applications provide surveillance and alarm notification over a wireless network – and if you’re already using WiFi (and you know you are) you’re already committed.
  • I hear repeatedly how IT is “taking over” Biomed. But just 4% of respondents (I guess that would be like one person in this sample) work for IT – my condolences.

Now attendance at AAMI was just under 2,000 this year, a slight increase over last year’s conference. And ECRI helpfully notes the number of respondents for each survey question – 28 in all cases. So while the survey is not peer reviewed journal material, it is none the less interesting – like those free appetizers that chefs whip up at expensive restaurants. Bon appetite!