Medical Device Interoperability Could Save $30B A Year, Says WHI

Mike Miliard | Healthcare IT News | March 21, 2013

Inability to share critical data creates inefficiencies, risks safety

Improvements in the ability of medical devices and health IT systems to communicate and exchange data could lead to more than $30 billion a year in savings, according to a new report from the West Health Institute.  In recent testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, Joseph M. Smith, MD, chief medical and science officer of San Diego-based WHI, revealed these findings to the committee as it weighs policy changes aimed at mobile technology and medical devices.

In hospitals today, patients are treated with as many as a dozen medical devices in a typical intensive care unit, according to WHI, including defibrillators, electrocardiographs, vital sign monitors, ventilators and infusion pumps. These devices are often from different manufacturers and not connected, requiring a costly and complex IT infrastructure – and introducing the potential for miscommunication that could lead to adverse events.

“We see an enormous opportunity to use information technology and device innovation to bring about the much needed transformation in healthcare delivery,” said Smith. “Today’s hospitals are filled with medical devices that are unable to share critical data, creating potential dangers to patients, as well as inefficiencies that put a tremendous financial burden on our healthcare system.”  While there has been progress made on interoperability standards, the healthcare industry continues to fall short on adoption of those standards...