Top 5 Reasons to Move Patient Data — System-Wide — Into An EMR

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Clinician workflows. IT budgets. It's easy to understand why hospitals end up integrating a department at a time, or a device-type at a time, on their way to complete electronic medical record integration. But according to an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, this type of approach is not optimal.

"Clinicians and administrators are trying to build hospitals piecemeal, buying technologies one by one, hoping to make equipment and technology talk to each other," reported the March 2011 issue. "Yet in so doing, they are increasing healthcare costs and reducing health care quality."

No doubt, enterprise-wide integration solutions are preferable. Why? Consider the following five reasons to seek out enterprise-wide integration solutions.

1. Stop silos, save money. Piecemeal integration solutions lead to large silos of information. These disparate silos cannot communicate with one another, which results in inefficient workflows and costly redundancies in information storage and processing. System-side solutions are, ultimately, more cost-effective.

2. Safety in real-time information. Information silos are often unable to deliver real-time, reliable patient data to a centralized information system. That means that some clinicians in an enterprise are able to view up-to-date patient information and thereby make informed decisions related to care and safety; others are not.

3. In the name of interoperability. Single-use hardware and vendor-dependent integration solutions discourage interoperability within biomedical networks. And in doing so, they discourage future advances in alarm management and clinical decision-making.

4. It's what the FDA wants. In Feb. 2011, system-level connectivity — the cornerstone of information exchange — was incentivized via the FDA's final ruling on Medical Device Data Systems. How? The ruling increased the regulatory burden on piecemeal solutions.

5. Ensure a flexible future. Brand-dependent solutions create a battleground wherein vendors fight for space. Without enterprise-wide, vendor-neutral solutions, hospitals buy devices that fit the needs of their integration vendor, not their patients. This paradigm is stifling and limiting; it is in direct opposition to system-wide integration.

True, the inventor in each of us may have an affinity for the rawness of in-house, DIY fixes: those down-and-dirty, custom-made, single-use solutions that get the job done. But the fact of the matter is that when it comes to the integration of biomedical networks and devices, these gradationally developed fixes (much like their brand-dependent counterparts) fall short.

Peter Witonsky is president of iSirona, a provider of medical device integration solutions.

More Articles on EMRs:

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Study: 56M Patients Viewed Their Medical Records via EHRs, But Many Not Interested

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