Why Device Connectivity Is Hot Now
By Dave Dyell
Tech-based solutions often enjoy a surge or hot period—a moment in the sun if you will. For those of us in the medical device integration (MDI) space, 2011 felt pretty sunny. For one thing, 2011 was the first year in which KLAS, an independent research organization that ranks health information technology vendors in key market segments, recognized MDI.
In an annual report titled Medical Device Integration 2012: Proven Connections, KLAS detailed the major MDI vendors and their individual strengths, as well as the overall benefit of MDI. For those of us who have worked in the MDI space for several years, recognition from KLAS represented a major milestone.
So why did KLAS add MDI to its list of relevant tech spaces in 2011? Why is the HIT spotlight on MDI now?
One reason is that MDI is a necessary component, or stepping stone, on the road toward achieving HIT initiatives such as Meaningful Use, health information exchange, ACOs, etc. In this way, the rise of MDI has been fueled to a certain extent by the passing of the HITECH Act in 2009.
But I believe that the real momentum behind MDI has another, slightly more organic explanation that is rooted in MDI’s payoff. The promises of MDI—improved clinical efficiency and quality—mirror the promises of other large, federally mandated initiatives. The difference with MDI, though, is that it is a much quicker win. The feedback loop with MDI is shorter than, say, the feedback loop with ACOs.
MDI automates the flow of data from devices directly into the hospital’s clinical information system (CIS) or electronic medical record. This automation (as opposed to handwritten transcriptions and keying) immediately improves clinician productivity as well as data accuracy and availably throughout the hospital.
The aforementioned KLAS report also notes this immediacy. When comparing the benefits of MDI to other HIT initiatives, the report states, “In a simple, more immediate way, some healthcare providers are quietly getting a bump in quality and efficiency through medical device integration systems.”
What does “bump” mean in this context? More than 65% of the study’s respondents reported that MDI saves time and provides the ability to make more informed decisions concerning patient care using the data that MDI makes available.
For the hospital trying to figure out which tech-based solutions to purchase, the KLAS report paints MDI as a solid investment with immediate and future payoffs—a synergy that those of us in this emerging industry have always stressed and will continue to.
Dave Dyell is founder and CEO of iSirona of Panama City, FL.
Walking Through HIMSS
By Carlos Nunez, MD
Walking the aisles of the exhibit hall and participating in HIStalkapalooza at the world’s largest gathering of healthcare IT professionals and the companies that do business with them led to several interesting discoveries.
All of the usual suspects were well represented in the exhibit hall (Epic, Cerner, GE, etc.), along with the expected collection of smaller IT vendors and specialty niche solutions (did you know that Rubbermaid makes hospital-grade computer carts?) And, of course, you found companies like IBM, Oracle, and Microsoft that also play in this space.
Coming in to the meeting, it was expected that ICD-10 would be a big topic of focus, but with the recently announced delay in the implementation requirement, that story seemed less relevant. There was also the announcement that the Stage 2 requirements for Meaningful Use were ready to be published in the Federal Register, but likely wouldn’t be available until after HIMSS. The announcement was big news, but it came too late to have any discernible impact on the conference floor. Finally, the trend toward mobile devices and cloud-based solutions is still grabbing a great deal of attention and booth space.
The trend that was most interesting was the rise and growing prominence of companies exhibiting at HIMSS that – at first glance – may seem out of place. For example, I had a meeting with the folks from Lockheed Martin. Yes, the same Lockheed Martin that makes fighter planes and satellites also has a healthcare business and is now partnering with Johns Hopkins on a patient safety and quality initiative. One of the larger booths in the exhibit hall belonged to a collection of IT and benefits management businesses that were recently cobbled together by one of the major insurance companies. I guess it should come as no surprise that as the American healthcare system continues to grab more attention (and more dollars) than any other segment of the economy, businesses new and old would look for their place at the table.
This trend got me thinking about my own place at HIMSS, and more specifically, where CareFusion should be slotted in the spectrum of industry represented there. To the uninitiated, you might think that CareFusion belongs closer to the Rubbermaid end of the spectrum, especially if you only focus on the “things” that CareFusion makes. What do surgical instruments, infection prevention, or infusion pumps have to do with information technology? However, when you realize those “things” are key components in a portfolio of solutions, many of which are tied together by the very technology that defines HIMSS, you begin to see that CareFusion brings a unique perspective and vision to the HIT conversation.
What became vividly apparent this year at HIMSS is that Healthcare IT today, and the concept of Meaningful Use, is much more than an EMR. It is the information ecosystem that supports every patient encounter. It is the millions of clinical data points streaming from a ventilator or an infusion pump, into a server or into the cloud. It is a medication order entered in a CPOE system, tracked and secured through an automated pharmacy system, and the surveillance engine on a constant vigil for inappropriate medication dosing or signs of infection. It is new technology designed to make devices and HIT systems talk to one another and provide critical patient data to caregivers when and where they need it, seamlessly across hospitals and systems.
Initiatives like Meaningful Use can sometimes make us forget that healthcare IT is more than just software or the systems we build to collect and store data; it’s how those systems enable us to convert data into useful information to help improve workflow, efficiency, and patient safety. As many providers begin to focus on Stage 2 Meaningful Use requirements, broader concepts like interoperability and standardization will emerge as critical objectives in achieving the desired end goal.
Or as ONC chief Farzad Mostashari, MD, asserted in his keynote speech at HIMSS, “We’re on the right track to make meaningful use of Meaningful Use.” What I saw and heard at HIMSS was a promising acknowledgement of our shared responsibility to improve healthcare. It’s a challenge that’s breaking down barriers between providers, suppliers, and companies of all industries and competencies working to make a contribution. I was proud to represent a company bringing so many meaningful solutions to the table.
Carlos Nunez MD is chief medical officer of CareFusion of San Diego, CA.