Medical Device Integration Software Takes Center Stage

Washington Hospital successfully implemented Capsule's MDI software to stream data into its EHR, but as industry moves toward MU Stage 3, IT expert says medical device integration must become more plug and play.

Michelle McNickle, Associate Editor of InformationWeek Healthcare

October 9, 2012

4 Min Read

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The use of medical device integration software is a growing trend, and at the Washington Hospital in Washington, Penn., Capsule's MDI software has helped automate data streaming into its EMR. After first testing it in its critical care unit, the hospital recently deployed the Capsule tool system-wide.

The Washington Hospital, a 265-bed regional healthcare system, has had a clinical system in place since the early 1980s, said Lynn Boardley, manager of hospital systems, in an interview with InformationWeek Healthcare. It upgraded to the Allscripts Sunrise product in April 2009, and from there implemented several Allscripts modules relating to order entry, clinical documentation, and pharmacy.

The hospital began exploring medical device integration vendors and settled on Capsule a few years ago. Washington Hospital went live with Capsule in December 2010, initially deploying the system in its critical care unit. "We went live in the critical care area because we wanted to do the most difficult [area] first," said Boardley. "We figured if we could make it work there first, we could deploy device integration house-wide once the CCU was a success."

Boardley said there were minimal configuration changes with the Capsule servers to get them up and running in the Sunrise system. The hospital servers are on site and were configured with the assistance of Allscripts resources.

"We were live in a very short period of time," she said. "… We took [end users] from a manual flow sheet that cardiac had put into place eight to ten years ago prior, and we brought them online with flow sheets in Sunrise. The only way we were able to do that was to have the device integration, where we could get real-time access to the information and commit it to the record, so the cardiac surgeon or the clinical staff in that area could see that information from anywhere in the organization."

The Washington Hospital expanded medical device integration into the rest of the organization--which included seven monitored nursing units--this past July, and it did so within a two-day period. Now, devices such as its patient monitors are patched into the hospital's EMR system.

Boardley added that overall, real-time documentation has made nurses very happy. "[Nurses] aren't having to spend that additional time documenting information."

[ For the latest development on Meaningful Use, see Meaningful Use Stage 2 Rules Finalized. ]

Shahid Shah, health IT consultant and author of the blog The Healthcare IT Guy, agreed medical device integration is going to get "hot and heavy" over the next five to 10 years. "We're seeing a scenario now where having an EMR system of some sort isn't a big deal," he said. "Now, the big problem moves from having a system to having good data in the system." The number of devices that contain health information, Shah continued, is also growing, which is going to create both problems and opportunities for the industry.

"This area of medical device integration is small because it's enterprise-focused," he said. The influx of data the industry is seeing is "a small problem today, solved by small vendors like Capsule." The problem, according to Shah, is going to get bigger as the movement of EHRs goes from the novelty of having a system to the requirement that the data be accurate in the system.

"Having a Capsule, for example, do the connectivity is not sustainable," he said. "It's like having a company when you want to connect your printer to your Mac or PC… it sounds insane, but the medical device world looks like this. These devices aren't that complex, and you shouldn't need a Capsule tech. Capsule and similar companies exist simply because the medical device integration world is in the 90's right now. As you move into the modern world, you won't need these guys anymore."

"Medical device integration, in the future, must and should be as easy as plugging into a printer, in the way that any application that knows how to print can print to any printer," Shah continued. "As we move toward Meaningful Use Stage 3, and quality improvements and data matters more than ever, that's where medical device integration becomes more and more crucial."

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.)

About the Author(s)

Michelle McNickle

Associate Editor of InformationWeek Healthcare

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