Press Release

Gary and Mary West Foundation and West Health Institute create new Center for Medical Interoperability to improve patient safety and lower costs of healthcare

3 min
September 18, 2013

SAN DIEGO, CA – Sept. 18, 2013 – The Gary and Mary West Foundation has provided initial grant funding to the Center for Medical Interoperability, Inc. The Center, a newly formed, independent nonprofit organization, will be led by hospitals and health systems to drive rapid, widespread and sustained interoperability of medical technology to improve patient safety and lower healthcare costs. The Center will be established with personnel and royalty-free technology licensed from the Gary and Mary West Health Institute.

Medical interoperability is the ability for health information to be seamlessly shared among medical devices and enterprise health systems to optimize healthcare delivery. The Center will be dedicated to enabling standards-based technical solutions to drive adoption of medical interoperability.

“Making healthcare delivery more efficient and affordable for everyone in the United States is a core mission of the Gary and Mary West Foundation,” said Shelley Lyford, president of the Gary and Mary West Foundation. “Through our grant we are giving the Center for Medical Interoperability the backing it needs to secure the necessary hospital-led membership that will help drive interoperability in healthcare.”

In a hospital today, patients are connected to six to 12 medical devices in a typical intensive care unit, including defibrillators, electrocardiographs, vital sign monitors, ventilators and infusion pumps. These point-of-care devices are often from different manufacturers and not connected to each other or to the electronic health record system, requiring redundant efforts to transfer data manually and a costly, complex information technology (IT) infrastructure, both of which introduce the potential for miscommunication and errors that adversely affect patients. Analysis from the West Health Institute has estimated that improved medical device interoperability could save more than $30 billion a year in healthcare costs in the United States.

“The creation of this singularly focused and collaborative Center marks a defining next step to bring about systemic change in healthcare that improves patient safety and lowers costs,” said Nicholas J. Valeriani, chief executive officer of the West Health Institute. “Medical interoperability is a critical requirement for the creation of a technology-enabled, connected healthcare ecosystem, which has been a major focus of the West Health Institute in its ongoing mission to lower the cost of healthcare.”

Overview of the Center for Medical Interoperability

Dr. Michael M. E. Johns, former chancellor of Emory University and CEO of its Health Sciences Center, is the founding chairman of the board of the Center for Medical Interoperability. Ed Cantwell, previously lead of the medical grade wireless utility at the West Health Institute, is the executive director of the Center.

“Medical interoperability is the key to unlocking healthcare communications in the hospital and removing the proprietary information silos among medical devices and electronic health records,” said Dr. Johns. “By bringing hospital systems together, we can align all stakeholder interests in a neutral forum to include technology vendors, standards organizations, certification bodies, government agencies and healthcare associations under a common goal to improve healthcare.”

Technology and personnel will be transferred to the Center from the West Health Institute, including intellectual property related to the medical grade wireless utility reference architecture for secure wireless network technology for hospitals, as well as research software to ease the adoption of interoperability standards, each the subject of royalty-free licenses. It is intended that tools and reference designs like these will be made available to members and the broader ecosystem to help advance medical interoperability.

Membership of the Center for Medical Interoperability will be limited to hospitals and health systems. Industry leaders will be sought to participate on advisory forums and technical work groups. The Center will focus initially on technical campaigns that are based on guidance from hospital leadership to help consistently articulate interoperability requirements and provide a sustainable and predictable connected health technology roadmap. The Center for Medical Interoperability seeks to optimize patient care by advancing the safety, quality and affordability of U.S. healthcare delivery. It will accomplish this by serving as a focal point for hospitals and health systems to drive rapid, widespread and sustained interoperability of medical technology.

For more information on the Center for Medical Interoperability, please contact the Center at