Device Connectivity with Tim Gee

Tim Gee is principal and founder of Medical Connectivity Consulting, which specializes in workflow automation through the integration of medical devices with information systems. Gee provides strategy development, marketing, product launches, business development, requirements and regulatory strategy for medical device and healthcare IT vendors serving ambulatory and acute care providers.

Gee will address more than 70 technology partners Tuesday during Device Forum at Cerner Health Conference. During his presentation, “Connectivity within Healthcare,” he will share the current state of medical device connectivity and a model for segmenting the market. Gee provides his insights below on medical device integration.

CHC Daily: How would you describe the current state of medical device connectivity?

Gee: In many ways, it’s very mature. First, let me define medical device connectivity: workflow automation through the integration of medical devices and information systems. I’ve been involved with medical device connectivity since the mid-80s when I worked for a company that wrote software for IBM PCs and Apple II computers. The cath lab was an early example of medical device connectivity.

In other respects, it’s very early, very new. The biggest differentiator today is that we’re focusing on medical devices and activities that take place at the point of care—particularly on nursing units. Many different kinds of workflows are being automated. The goal is not just the acquisition of data for charting purposes in an EMR. There is also alarm notification, remote surveillance of medical device data and waveforms, and possibly aggregating that data with information from other information systems. This allows presentation of more meaningful data than what you might get from separate systems—it creates a patient-centric view that changes over time. At this point, many manufacturers are struggling because they have never created connectivity applications before and don’t know how to develop requirements.

CHC Daily: What are the major barriers to medical device connectivity?

Gee: The two biggest barriers to connectivity involve regulations and standards. When dealing with medical device connectivity, systems integration becomes more complicated because much of what you are integrating is a regulated medical device. The FDA has published a draft rule that medical device data systems are a medical device and that they are going to reclassify them. In dealing with a systems integration process, the regulatory environment and quality systems that are required within that environment add to the cost and complexity of doing systems integration. In addition, there is a lack of standards on the medical device side. This lack of standards impacts product interfacing in the marketplace, which is inefficient.

CHC Daily: What are the primary reasons behind organizations’ desires for connectivity?

Gee: The primary reason for connectivity is to improve workflow automation. Many organizations have manual tasks that are partially or poorly automated that they want to improve. The reason they want to improve the task may be based on patient safety issues, like alarm notification. Alarm notification is an important safety issue because of alarm fatigue. Another reason for connectivity may be user productivity or user acceptance. While patient safety is a big factor in EMR charting, much of an organization’s desire to be connected has to do with nurse productivity and user acceptance of the EMR.

CHC Daily: What advice would you give organizations interested in device connectivity at their facilities?

Gee: The most important step an organization can take is to conduct an adequate needs assessment. Healthcare providers need to think more like product manufacturers. Manufacturers think about projects and products in the long-term and across their product portfolio. Healthcare providers need to think five years from now and five years out from that. They need to think about all of the different systems and technologies that come together at the point of care. That includes, but is not limited to, their clinical information system, electronic medication administration record and EMR. It also incorporates their wireless phone systems, patient flow applications or real-time positioning and messaging middleware for alarm notification.

CHC Daily: How will the connectivity market continue to expand?

Gee: There are several potential scenarios. The most optimistic is that the industry comes together through a new organization, or one that already exists, and makes decisions and adopts and implements standards that make plug-and-play connectivity a reality.

Be sure to visit the iCommand™ and MDBus™ pods in the Solutions Gallery to learn how Cerner can assist you with device connectivity.

Device Connectivity with Tim Gee

Tim Gee is principal and founder of Medical Connectivity Consulting, which specializes in workflow automation through the integration of medical devices with information systems. Gee provides strategy development, marketing, product launches, business development, requirements and regulatory strategy for medical device and healthcare IT vendors serving ambulatory and acute care providers.

Gee will address more than 70 technology partners Tuesday during Device Forum at Cerner Health Conference. During his presentation, “Connectivity within Healthcare,” he will share the current state of medical device connectivity and a model for segmenting the market. Gee provides his insights below on medical device integration.

CHC Daily: How would you describe the current state of medical device connectivity?

Gee: In many ways, it’s very mature. First, let me define medical device connectivity: workflow automation through the integration of medical devices and information systems. I’ve been involved with medical device connectivity since the mid-80s when I worked for a company that wrote software for IBM PCs and Apple II computers. The cath lab was an early example of medical device connectivity.

In other respects, it’s very early, very new. The biggest differentiator today is that we’re focusing on medical devices and activities that take place at the point of care—particularly on nursing units. Many different kinds of workflows are being automated. The goal is not just the acquisition of data for charting purposes in an EMR. There is also alarm notification, remote surveillance of medical device data and waveforms, and possibly aggregating that data with information from other information systems. This allows presentation of more meaningful data than what you might get from separate systems—it creates a patient-centric view that changes over time. At this point, many manufacturers are struggling because they have never created connectivity applications before and don’t know how to develop requirements.

CHC Daily: What are the major barriers to medical device connectivity?

Gee: The two biggest barriers to connectivity involve regulations and standards. When dealing with medical device connectivity, systems integration becomes more complicated because much of what you are integrating is a regulated medical device. The FDA has published a draft rule that medical device data systems are a medical device and that they are going to reclassify them. In dealing with a systems integration process, the regulatory environment and quality systems that are required within that environment add to the cost and complexity of doing systems integration. In addition, there is a lack of standards on the medical device side. This lack of standards impacts product interfacing in the marketplace, which is inefficient.

CHC Daily: What are the primary reasons behind organizations’ desires for connectivity?

Gee: The primary reason for connectivity is to improve workflow automation. Many organizations have manual tasks that are partially or poorly automated that they want to improve. The reason they want to improve the task may be based on patient safety issues, like alarm notification. Alarm notification is an important safety issue because of alarm fatigue. Another reason for connectivity may be user productivity or user acceptance. While patient safety is a big factor in EMR charting, much of an organization’s desire to be connected has to do with nurse productivity and user acceptance of the EMR.

CHC Daily: What advice would you give organizations interested in device connectivity at their facilities?

Gee: The most important step an organization can take is to conduct an adequate needs assessment. Healthcare providers need to think more like product manufacturers. Manufacturers think about projects and products in the long-term and across their product portfolio. Healthcare providers need to think five years from now and five years out from that. They need to think about all of the different systems and technologies that come together at the point of care. That includes, but is not limited to, their clinical information system, electronic medication administration record and EMR. It also incorporates their wireless phone systems, patient flow applications or real-time positioning and messaging middleware for alarm notification.

CHC Daily: How will the connectivity market continue to expand?

Gee: There are several potential scenarios. The most optimistic is that the industry comes together through a new organization, or one that already exists, and makes decisions and adopts and implements standards that make plug-and-play connectivity a reality.

Be sure to visit the iCommand™ and MDBus™ pods in the Solutions Gallery to learn how Cerner can assist you with device connectivity.

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