The Hidden Benefits of Medical Device IntegrationJanuary 22, 2013 No Comments
Featured article by Robert Jennings, Director of Implementation Services, Capsule Tech, Inc.
Can medical device integration (MDI) change your life—or at least your work life as a hospital IT professional? While the benefits for clinicians and patients may be readily apparent, MDI solutions also deliver significant advantages for healthcare IT, Biomeds and even administrators, who typically never approach the bedside.
In a nutshell, MDI enables medical devices to transfer patient data directly over a network into an electronic medical record (EMR) system. A vendor neutral solution such as Capsule brings together data from multiple devices throughout the enterprise, translates it as the EMR requires and sends it to the patient record.
Fifty-four percent of U.S. hospitals plan to purchase new MDI solutions in the coming year, according to a recent study by healthcare technology research and advisory firm CapSite. Enhanced patient care and safety are some of the highly visible benefits when manual data input is eliminated and patient information flows over the network, enabling faster and more accurate communication to clinicians.
But from a technical and business perspective, there’s even more value in MDI than first meets the eye.
For example, after all the hard work done by the hospital IT department, user resistance often prevents a new EMR from living up to its full potential. By transmitting device data directly into an electronic patient record, MDI typically helps drive EMR adoption across the enterprise. The elimination of any need for manual charting prompts more clinicians to put down their clipboards and embrace the electronic record to provide vital signs and other clinical data simply and clearly in near real-time. After that, they never want to go back.
Conversely, if an unanswered EMR initiative has been floating around a facility for some time, MDI may just bring it to fruition. The lure of fully automated charting has been known to help push an EMR program forward with a critical mass of new supporters.
For IT, a centralized MDI solution such as Capsule also cuts time and costs compared to individual device integration. The centralized process becomes virtually plug-and-play, and all data is sent to the EMR appropriately mapped through a single interface and standard HL7 feed. By contrast, integrating devices through proprietary vendor technology is an arduous individualized process that often takes place repeatedly with firmware upgrades.
As an unanticipated bonus for hospitals, a vendor neutral MDI solution provides the hospital with a more seamless transition when upgrading their facility’s medical devices or health information system. Hospitals may choose virtually any device or EMR vendor to update their facility without the burden of upgrading their MDI solution as well. Therefore, as existing devices reach their sunset, departments now have a major impetus to pick a preferred device and stick with it going forward.
For clinicians, the most important benefit is that data may be more accurate through the automation of collection and the elimination of human error. Physicians also get the right data at the right time at the right place to promote faster and more informed clinical decision-making. That data also can be escalated to provide other systems with the parameters for alarms and alerts to enhance patient care.
Finally, from a business standpoint, patients express enhanced satisfaction when they receive high levels of patient care, which can be a direct result of their data automatically being sent to the patient record. According to surveys, the most frequently cited reason cited for better care is a more personalized approach of caregivers, who can give back to patients the hours formerly spent on manual charting. That satisfaction not only drives marketing initiatives but may result in increased funding for hospitals.
All in all, the more deeply you look into MDI, the more value you see.
Robert Jennings holds over 15 years of experience in the U.S. healthcare IT industry. As the Director of Implementation Services at Capsule Tech Inc., Mr. Jennings oversees a full staff of support specialists and provides expert device integration service and support to hospitals around the world. Prior to joining Capsule, Mr. Jennings held the position of BMDI Project Manager at Indiana University Health (formerly Clarian Health) implementing and completing Capsule’s medical device connectivity solution at 5 hospitals. Mr. Jennings assisted Boston Medical Center in the transition and upgrade of hospital systems and later went on to become the IT Manager overseeing their Unix based hospital application systems, interface integration, and database groups.DIGITAL HEALTH, Fresh Ink