In Study, Hospital Executives Weigh In on Health IT and Medical Device Integration

Healthcare and information technology (IT) have been converging for some time, and the ramifications of that confluence will be profound for the healthcare industry—it's just a matter of time before health IT's promises become reality.

November 29, 2011

3 Min Read
In Study, Hospital Executives Weigh In on Health IT and Medical Device Integration

Healthcare and information technology (IT) have been converging for some time, and the ramifications of that confluence will be profound for the healthcare industry—it's just a matter of time before health IT's promises become reality. 

idevice.jpgHaving said that, however, health IT has a long way to go before it really starts living up to its potential. At present, only one-third of U.S. hospitals report that they are interfacing medical devices to their electronic medical health records (EMR) environment, according to a study from HIMSS Analytics titled “Medical Device Integration: CMIO and CNO Perspectives.”

Nevertheless, the use of networked medical devices in U.S. hospitals is fairly widespread at present and the adoption of electronic medical health records (EMR) and networked medical devices are high priorities for most hospitals. In particular, device integration is important because of its ability to enable hospitals to track device data and ultimately improve clinical outcomes and reduce medical errors.

To help facilitate the growth of clinical information systems, a growing number of hospitals are hiring executives to help translate between the clinical and the technological. Chief nursing informatics officers (CNIOs) and chief medical information officers (CMIOs) are the most notable examples of this.

To get a sense of CNO’s and CMIO’s opinions on medical device integration and other related topics, HIMSS Analytics commissioned the aforementioned study, which was sponsored by Capsule Tech (Andover, MA). 

MD+DI recently had the chance to speak with Jennifer Horowitz senior director, research from HIMSS and Heather Hitchcock, director of marketing at Capsule Tech to discuss the study’s findings.

EMR adoption is a high priority in the short-, mid-, and long-terms for hospitals, says Horowitz. “There are analytics being used to track EMR adoption over time and clearly the industry is making really positive progress, just looking over time,” she adds.

But device integration really has to be included as a component of EMR adoption, Hitchcock says. “There was a real sense among [the study] respondents that the data generated by devices is really a critical component of an organization's complete electronic system,” she says. When device integration is not prioritized, the adoption of that technology can decline because clinicians are forced to “hand write the files and type them into the system.”  

Medical device engineers should keep CMIOs and CNOs in mind when developing devices. CMIOs and CNOs wield a strong influence in many hospital ecosystems, which can affect purchasing decisions. CMIOs and CNOs bridge the gap between the technological and the clinical, Horowitz says. As engineers develop medical devices, they should keep  these executives’ perspective in mind because that can play a big role in whether a device is adopted or not. “These are the key influencers,” Horowitz says. Engineers should consider these people when developing medical devices.

As hospitals continue to harvest ever more data, sifting through all of it to generate actionable information will become a growing priority, Horowitz and Hitchcock stress. “A large trend in the next five to 10 years will be manipulating data to improve care overall,” Horowitz says. And CMIOs and CNOs are expected  to play a critical role in making that happen. 

Brian Buntz

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