Interoperability is an issue that pits patients and providers against medical device companies. On one hand, a lack of interoperability among medical devices costs the U.S. healthcare system more than $30 billion annually, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. On the other, device makers have a vested interest in preserving their proprietary systems.
But some companies are starting to see the benefits of interoperability. The Continua Health Alliance, an industry organization dedicated to establishing a system of interoperable personal connected health solutions, now counts more than 200 technology and healthcare companies, including Covidien, GE Healthcare, and Philips, among its members. The alliance publishes design guidelines annually and works with standards organization such as IEEE to advance its cause.
Even electronic health record (EHR) providers, which have an especially strong incentive to remain siloed, are starting to see the light. At the Health Information Management Systems SocietyÆs annual conference in 2013, five EHR providers announced the creation of the Commonwell Health Alliance, a trade group that will create an infrastructure for interoperability across health IT organizations and adopt common standards and protocols to provide access to patient data. The alliance has been slow growing (more than a year after its founding, its membership consists of just nine companies), and notably absent from its ranks is Epic, the largest EHR vendor in the United States, but itÆs a step in the right direction.
With FDA planning the release of a draft guidance on medical device interoperability sometime this year, it's likely that more companies will start taking a closer look at how their systems can play nice with others.
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|Meet more agents of change in medtech at the MD&M East tradeshow and conference in New York City June 9–12, 2014.|
[image courtesy of RENJITH KRISHNAN/FREEDIGITALPHOTOS.NET0