Plenty of work to be done!

“A connected healthcare infrastructure, as a uniting factor between device safety, workflows, etc., aimed at promoting diagnosis, monitoring and prevention, is gaining in importance in the healthcare sector.” So says a new analysis by Frost & Sullivan. This same report shows that healthcare institutions still need to make a lot of headway in the area of connectivity.

“Such an infrastructure only has a chance to succeed if the involved parties ensure that the standards for interoperability and connectivity are in place,” the researchers write in Healthcare and Medical Device Connectivity and Interoperability. Furthermore, they note that a holistic, digital healthcare strategy that focuses on integrated healthcare models is missing in a number of countries, causing large geographic differences in the introduction of a connected healthcare infrastructure.

“Some 50% of all health care institutions have no roadmap for medical IT, even though they agree that digital health care helps make care more efficient,” writes Shruthi Parakkal, analyst for Frost & Sullivan Healthcare Research. “Consequently, a number of organisations are not able to make optimal use of existing standards such as HL7, DICOM and Direct Project.” 

Another problem is that hospitals are frequently required to implement processes and workflows with the help of expensive upgrades and adjustments to code and software. This process is becoming increasingly complex, and too often suppliers are unable to guarantee integration with other manufacturers’ devices and systems.

“Hospitals and healthcare providers have an urgent need for connected devices and IT systems that not only manage healthcare data but can also respond to regulations, e.g. relating to electronic patient files,” says Parakkal. “That explains why many are knocking on the doors of developers of open medical integration solutions, which facilitate data exchange between the systems of various manufacturers.”

We thus have a long way to go in order to enable communication between devices and information systems and bring about better connectivity. Gradually, technological innovations in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) will offer more possibilities. Furthermore, researchers expect that the increasing focus on interoperability will be reflected in FDA guidelines. This would obviously be an important boost for connectivity in the healthcare sector…


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