Hospital EHR Device Integration

This week has been pretty crazy for me as I’ve been attending three conferences back to back. Plus, the conference in the middle is the 120,000 person CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas. The healthcare section of CES has been growing like crazy. Those who had 10×10 booths last year now have 20×20 booths and the number of health IT related companies at CES has grown 20%.

As I’ve been browsing these ever growing booths about consumer health I’ve been smothered in various consumer focused devices. I’ve seen every sort of FDA cleared device including: Blood Pressure Cuffs, Scales, Dermascopes, Otoscopes, Pulse Oximeters, Stethoscopes, and Thermometers. The innovation with these devices is amazing. The integration with these devices and other device is amazing. The price point for these devices is dropping.

With all of this in mind, I’ve wondered why more hospitals aren’t taking a larger interest in what’s happening here. Not to mention why more hospital EHR vendors aren’t integrating with these devices as well. Someone asked me what’s the difference in these devices versus the ones that are being used in healthcare today. The obvious answer is price and brand recognition (trust). Although, they are all FDA cleared devices, so is there really a difference in the results? The FDA clearance process is quite rigorous. I don’t have the full answer to this question, so I’d love to hear from some hospital people and other device manufacturers to hear your view on it.

Maybe the answer is that hospitals are buying the big expensive devices because those are the devices that integrate with their hospital EHR system. If that’s the main reason, then we need more of the major hospital EHR vendors to start doing the medical device integration with these low cost alternatives. Imagine the cost savings.

The other side of the coin is hospitals deploying these devices to the patient. I’ve seen this in a few cases where the hospital wants to reduce readmissions. Although, it’s an interesting dance since it is largely under the purview of the primary care doctor. It’s always felt awkward that the hospital’s readmission issues are dependent on a group of doctors that don’t work in the hospital. Maybe this will change as hospitals buy up more doctors offices.

It’s an exciting time to see the devices coming to healthcare. I just wish I saw more hospitals and hospital EHRs involved in what’s happening. I wonder how many healthcare CIOs are seeing what’s happening and planning for it.

I predict 2013 will be the year of the consumer health device and I don’t think most hospitals or doctors are ready for it.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.

5 Comments

  • I believe you already know why “more hospitals are not taking a larger interest in this” but for some reason you are afraid to say so I’ll say it for you.

    The reason is hospitals are in collusion with the EHR vendors and it is as simple as that. The Epics et al. are not going to allow any of us to provide data for our own patient record the parasites cannot bill for or get paid for while collaborating with the Obammunists.

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out once a person goes out of their way to do all of the work with software to record data for a parent you are providing care for and show that data to the doctor(s) and get their polite “oh that’s nice” turning away to use the EHR software itself you figure things out real quick.

    You’ve seen it youself and you’ve blogged the results of the research yourself and I and other readers know you know all these cockroach hospitals, doctors and EHR vendors care about is getting paid.

  • I would think that there are several reasons why hospitals aren’t investing in these devices:

    o Interface Protocols. For every device, there seems to be a new protocol. While the device may be inexpensive, making them talk to other systems may neither be cheap nor simple.

    o Visibility. Hospital admins probably are more inclined to buy big new hardware that they can charge for and one that their staff docs want.

    o Unseen Advantages. Hospital admins may not immediately see the value, for example, of a BP machine that has bluetooth. Only when they see that it means saving real staff time and eliminating serious errors will they sit up and take notice.

  • I suspect there are several reasons why many hospitals have not integrated new medical devices into their EHR database and care delivery workflows:

    *Many hospital leaders and IT departments have been focused on (overwhelmed by) Meaningful Use and ICD-10 preparation. There simply isn’t enough time to do it all.

    *Many hospital/IT leaders are unaware of new trends with personal digital health gadgets. Trade publications focus on topics such as information security, cloud, and meaningful use. Even if they’ve heard of digital health gadgets, hospital leaders might not know what to do with the new devices and the data they generate (would have to new care delivery processes)

    *There aren’t clear financial incentives for hospitals to invest in new tech projects, especially when some of the tech is unproven. However this is changing as more research is done on digital health gadgets, and as hospitals come to realize they need new tools to prevent readmissions and be successful in ACO’s etc.

    *For the hospitals that decide to pursue integration of new tech, there are practical challenges of data mapping/structure and where/how would “new device data” get saved to the “old EMR database.”

    Please let me know if you’ve heard of any hospitals that have successfully integrated personal device data with EHR data — AND the hospital care team was able to use the device data in ways that improved clinical outcomes. Thanks!

    Wen

  • Some good comments above. Another like use is to control patient treatment, such as with infusion pumps, where EHR control can lead to far more accurate infusion then when pumps are set, or miss-set by hand. Give some meds too quickly can hurt or kill a patient, too slowly and you may delay treatment or make it ineffectual. Or just plain waste time and space.

    Of course, if the main reason to have an EHR is to get MU money, then none of this matters.

  • Some really good comments. Thanks for sharing.

    Another thought related to Carl’s is that most of the consumer device companies don’t really care to integrate with hospitals. I haven’t seen one yet (and I saw a lot of them at CES) that were interested in the hospital integration side of things.

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