Lack of interoperability isn't just frustrating, it leads to medical errors: 8 survey findings

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Not only does a lack of interoperability and connectivity for medical devices increase the likelihood of medical errors, but half of nurses say they've personally witnessed the occurrence of medical errors due to interoperability issues, according to a recent nurse survey.

The survey report attributes the problem not only to the fact that devices can't communicate data with EHRs and vice versa, but that these connectivity issues oftentimes require nurses to transcribe information between technology by hand, removing them from bedsides, reducing patient face time and increasing the likelihood of errors.

Here are eight findings from the Harris Poll survey, commissioned by the Gary and Mary West Health Institute.

• 50 percent of nurses say they have personally witnessed a medical error directly due to lack of device coordination.
• 46 percent of nurses say an error is extremely likely to occur if data is manually transcribed between devices or between an EHR and a device.
• 93 percent of nurses say that medical devices should be capable of seamlessly sharing data with one another automatically.
• 60 percent said that if devices could automatically share and sync data errors would be significantly reduced; 96 percent said in this instance that errors would be reduced at least slightly.
• 39 percent said the lack of interoperability is the most challenging part of working with medical devices; 40 percent said the most challenging part of working with devices is being taken away from patient care.
• 69 percent agreed that medical devices are a distraction from bedside care for patients, and removing the distraction is the best way to improve safety.
• 74 percent of nurses agreed that is it burdensome to coordinate data between devices; 24 percent somewhat agreed with this.
• 47 percent said that working with medical devices was the least productive use of their time.

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