With recent trends in healthcare and technology accelerating the move toward a connected healthcare enterprise, data has emerged as the new currency in the healthcare economy. At the center of this revolution are the medical devices harvesting data and the caregivers tasked with turning that data into actionable insights which improve the quality of care.
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Importance of interconnectivity of HealthCare devices
Devices, including infusion pumps, ventilators, blood pressure monitors and other vital sign monitors, are critical for delivering quality care and the connectivity of these devices can significantly assist in reducing reporting and communication errors. Considering the increased ubiquitousness of remote patient monitoring, device interoperability becomes even more significant as remote caregivers are relying more on data and less on patient interactions and observations.
Grieving concern on interoperability
Considering the growing value of healthcare data, it’s concerning that the lack of interoperability between medical devices continues to raise concerns – and caretakers are taking notice. According to a survey of over 500 nurses in the US, commissioned by Gary and Mary West Health Institute, half of all nurses surveyed have witnessed a medical error as the result of a lack of coordination between medical devices, and 60% believe medical errors could be significantly reduced if medical devices were connected and shared data with each other automatically.
Factors impact connected care initiatives
Despite new regulatory trends and the growing recognition among care providers that connected devices play a vital role in healthcare outcomes, implementing a connected care strategy can be easier said than done. From timestamp concerns to cybersecurity risks, there are many factors that can greatly affect the success of an organization’s connected care initiatives.
As simple as it may seem, the most important question a caregiver can ask when providing and recording care is, “What is the correct time?” is it the time on the device? The time on the wall clock? Or the time on the doctor’s watch? Timestamping is a crucial aspect of collecting and measuring data, as caregivers working across devices need to know not only what type of care a patient received, but accurately when.
Eliminating manual data entry
The less time a caregiver spends manually operating or entering data into a device the better, but some healthcare functions simply need user action on the device. To ensure data is being shared accurately without the element of human error, healthcare IT executives should deploy devices which are designed to perform data exchanges as independently as possible without the need for user intervention.
Securing device transactions
Adoption of technology like Bluetooth can present some particular challenges regarding the pairing and un-pairing of devices and may lead to data loss and unsecure communication. Users cannot randomly pair devices because they could potentially expose patients to information that’s not validated. For example, if a nurse needs to send a prescription to a specific infusion device, the infusion device and the device sending the prescription need to work perfectly in sync so the source can be authenticated to avoid accidentally delivering a prescription to the incorrect device. A responsible connected device strategy should adopt secure public and private key encryption mechanisms and include an audit process that frequently monitors any potential data loss.
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Managing Compliance Requirements
HIPAA compliance remains a key area of concern for healthcare IT executives. With more and more technology manufacturers embracing cloud-based data storage options, open source technologies and other commercial libraries available for data encryption, it’s important to apprehend how the use of those technologies will impact HIPAA compliance. Healthcare IT executives must understand the trail of data that could potentially be left on a device and should assure cloud servers and open source packages are securing patient records and data in a way that meets HIPAA requirements.
As the move toward trends such as remote patient care and connected technologies continues to rapidly grow, so will the need for responsible healthcare data management solutions and strategies that emphasize accuracy, security, patient privacy and compliance