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8/15/2012
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Medical Device Integration Software Surges In Hospitals

Spread of EHRs spurs demand for applications to connect device output to electronic records.

8 Health Information Exchanges Lead The Way
8 Health Information Exchanges Lead The Way
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The rising tide of electronic health records (EHRs) in hospitals is lifting many other boats, ranging from clinical analytics apps to private health information exchanges. Another beneficiary is medical device integration (MDI) software, which connects medical device data output to EHRs.

According to a new Capsite survey, 44% of the nearly 300 responding hospitals said they had purchased an MDI application in recent years. The majority of those purchases were made in 2011 and 2012.

Blain Newton, CEO of Capsite, a research and consulting firm, told InformationWeek Healthcare that the big increase in MDI purchases in those two years is "symptomatic of the surge in EHR purchases and EHR implementation. You have these EHRs that can accept data in, and you have all these devices out there, so the race is on to gather that data as efficiently as possible to improve clinical outcomes."

Far more small and midsized hospitals than large institutions bought MDI software in the past two years. Newton explained that this is because the smaller facilities were more likely to have implemented EHRs during that time period.

"The Sharp HealthCares of the world have been in the EHR game for a long time and recognized the need to integrate these devices [earlier on]. Whereas some of the smaller shops are just getting on that train now."

Those facilities have a long way to go. Just 33% of hospitals with less than 200 beds have recently purchased MDI software, vs. 75% of the midsized hospitals (200-400 beds) and 63% of the big institutions (greater than 400 beds).

[ ACOs break new ground in healthcare as cost pressures mount for providers. See 8 Accountable Care Organizations Worth Closer Look. ]

Most of the respondents that bought MDI systems were in the process of implementing the software or planned to do so in the next year. Newton believes that many of the hospitals that have not yet moved in this direction will do so after they finish rolling out their EHRs.

"Most hospitals have either purchased EHRs and installed them or are on their way to installing them. That's why we foresee an acceleration in the next couple of years in the MDI space. As those hospitals come online with the newly certified EHRs, they'll think about connecting their devices to them."

The MDI purchasers said they'd acquired their systems to improve clinical outcomes (40%), to improve efficiency (37%), to show Meaningful Use and get government EHR incentives (17%), or for some other reason (6%).

In contrast to the EHR field, where hospitals are focusing on established vendors that offer integration and a wide range of functionality, the MDI space is still wide open, the Capsite survey revealed. Cerner currently claims 31% of the market, while Capsule, an independent MDI vendor, has 19%. The other half of the market is held by an assortment of hospital information system (HIS) vendors--notably, Epic, GE, Meditech, and Siemens--and "best of breed" firms such as iSirona and Nuvon.

Why is Cerner so far ahead of other HIS vendors? Blaine speculated that its early-mover advantage had a lot to do with it. But he added that a number of HIS vendors--including some of those that have their own applications--offer hospitals MDI products from best-of-breed firms like Capsule and iSirona, so the market share picture is unclear.

While Capsule and Cerner share 70% of the market among the biggest hospitals, the survey showed Epic and Siemens making inroads among midsized facilities. Epic, Meditech, and CPSI are contenders in the small-hospital market.

Last February, KLAS Research released a report that analyzed MDI software from Cerner, Capsule, and iSirona. All three scored in about the same range for effectiveness, with iSirona gaining a slight edge over its rivals.

KLAS noted that the technology improved quality and efficiency by automating documentation, freeing up clinicians to spend more time on patient care, and giving them the ability to view logged data for trending and analysis. Two-thirds of the providers said MDI systems saved time and helped clinicians make more informed decisions.

InformationWeek Healthcare brought together eight top IT execs to discuss BYOD, Meaningful Use, accountable care, and other contentious issues. Also in the new, all-digital CIO Roundtable issue: Why use IT systems to help cut medical costs if physicians ignore the cost of the care they provide? (Free with registration.)

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