How Integrating Medical Device Data Improves EMR Data’s Value

Posted on July 17, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

As we’ve noted here before, connecting medical device data to EMRs is no walk in the park.  Hospitals have to invest in next-gen devices with new capabilities — such as wireless connectivity — and across their entire campus too, if they want consistent results. Then there’s the labor involved in initiating, completing and managing an array of newly-capable devices.  This will create hiccups, or possibly worse, even under the best of circumstances.

But I’d guess most of us would agree that there’s plenty of good reasons to go ahead and install more-connected devices.  Here’s five reasons to consider, laid out in a recent article by Sue Niemeier of connectivity tech vendor Capsule:

1.  EMR data becomes more accurate. Since it’s being collected automatically, the data won’t suffer from transcription errors or omissions.

2. With connected devices, measurement data is collected in virtually real-time. Otherwise, Niemeier says, it can be anywhere from two to twelve hours in her experience before the data gets into a paper chart, which might not even go with the patient if moved.

3. EMR data comes in as a steady stream rather than “batch” fashion, making it easier to check and submit as it arrives — rather than at the end of the shift.

4.  Data delivered directly by devices is concise, making it easier to track patient progress, while nursing notes may bury the data in paragraph form.

While all of this is great, we’re not likely to see a grand switchover in the near term. Right now, integration stats are very low; for example, according to a recent KLAS hospital study, less than 10 percent of respondents had adopted connected smart infusion pumps.

Still, it’s good to be reminded of where we’re (probably) heading, rather than just carping about what bogs down today. I believe Niemeier makes a lot of sense, and vendor rep or not, her points are worth considering.