Medical Device Experts and Their Devices Converse at Boston Conference

Andy Oram | O'Reilly Radar | September 6, 2011

I'm looking forward to Medical Device Connectivity conference this week at Harvard Medical School. It's described by one of the organizers, Shahid N. Shah, as an "operational" conference, focused not on standards or the potential of the field but on how to really make these things work. On the other hand, as I learned from a call with Program Chair Tim Gee, many of the benefits for which the field is striving have to wait for changes in technology, markets, FDA regulations, and hospital deployment practices.

For instance, Gee pointed out that patients under anesthesia need a ventilator in order to breath. But this interferes with certain interventions that may be needed during surgery, such as X-Rays, so the ventilator must be also sometimes turned off temporarily. Guess how often the staff forget to turn the ventilator back on after taking the X-Ray? Often enough, anyway, to take this matter out of human hands and make the X-Ray machine talk directly to the ventilator. Activating the X-Ray machine should turn off the ventilator, and finishing the X-Ray should turn it back on. But that's not done now.