The Challenges For Medical Device Interoperability

Ken Herold | News Electronics | October 23, 2012

Hospitals have complicated and connected technology ecosystems. Few places have such a diverse array of machines, skills and information, all attempting to coexist in a stressful decision making environment. Each department has an array of devices and a staff with highly specialised skills.

Information on patients and their treatment must flow seamlessly through this ecosystem, across more than one hospital and, potentially, between hospitals and the home. And this needs to be sustained throughout the patient's life for treatment and care to happen in an effective way. Modern hospitals are filled with complex machines and the bar is set high for their safe and effective use. Taking a device to market is an increasingly complicated task.

One example is the potential for an ambulance to download data. Ambulances feature ever more equipment to allow patients to be treated quickly, but it would be even better if information on their condition could be relayed to the hospital. Unfortunately, these devices were not designed with this in mind and retrofitting them can be difficult and expensive.