How connectivity will benefit the medical industry

As providers move through the stages of the meaningful use incentives program, they will need to make sure that their electronic health record systems can communicate with other providers' systems. In the coming years, many medical devices will need to have the ability to communicate with each other as well as an EHR, which is something that is referred to as "Connectivity" in the health care industry. 

Recently, Forbes reported that Transparency Market Research recently published a study that estimated a 38 percent compound annual growth rate in the market for medical-device connectivity up to 2019. This will be a 38 percent increase from the $3.4 billion worldwide market amount in 2012. According to the news source, if this prediction comes true, then it is good news for the health care industry, because it could mean higher quality care at a lower cost

Connectivity is the key to success
The news source explained that there have been some problems with the EHR incentives program in the past few years, and providers and vendors are working together to eliminate the issues that have been plaguing some of these systems and meaningful use standards. However, successful adoption of connectivity software could make all of these troubles worthwhile. Forbes cited a recent report from the West Health Institute that estimated that there could be as much as $36 billion in savings each yeah if the medical community embraces connectivity. 

"The West Health report notes that a patient in an Intensive Care Unit is surrounded by six to 12 medical devices, which mostly do not communicate with each other or the EHR. The report also illustrates the case for connectivity with a number of vignettes. For example, a brain-injured patient in the ICU breathes with the help of a ventilator, operating according to physician-prescribed parameters. A respiratory therapist draws blood to send to the lab to test the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide. The lab calls the ICU nurse with the results, who reports them to the physician, which leads to adjusting the ventilator. This happens four to six times a day. Even a layman can see how inefficient this is, and how it could be improved by connecting the procedures," wrote John Graham for the news source. 

Forbes added that medical devices cannot do much to improve the quality of care delivered, but if the health care industry continues to work to connect all of these systems, there could be some real changes. 

Encouraging connectivity explained that one size does not fit all when it comes to EHR systems – there are many different types on the market designed for various medical specialties. This is why these various systems need to be able to connect with one another. The Office of Standards & Interoperability at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is working to increase the interoperability capabilities of EHR systems. One way that these government departments are working to do this is by encouraging the medical community to develop universal standards for health care information technology. 

Furthermore, these agencies plan to enforce compliance to these standards once they have been developed. The standards that matter the most, according to, are the ones that are connected to how users and applications interact, such as e-prescribing tools, as well as those that deal with how various medical devices will be able to interact with each other. Providers should talk to their EHR vendors about whether they feel confident that their systems will be able to meet any standards set by the government.