West Health Institute, Wind River and NIST demonstrate research advances in medical device interoperability


SAN DIEGO, CA; ALAMEDA, CA; and GAITHERSBURG, MD – Feb. 27, 2013 – The Gary and Mary West Health Institute, Wind River® and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are collaborating on a research demonstration at the HIMSS13 Annual Conference that enables seamless, standards-based communication between medical devices and information systems to help lower the cost of health care. It will be featured at the HIMSS13 Interoperability Showcase™ on March 4-6, in New Orleans, LA.

This demonstration of software-based interoperability is aimed at enabling hospitals to achieve standardized communication, starting at the patient’s point-of-care medical device interfaces all the way through to their electronic health record. The approach is expected to simplify health information technology (HIT) requirements and improve patient care.

“As we’ve heard from our hospital partners, health care technology needs to seamlessly work together to communicate and exchange data,” said Nicholas Valeriani, chief executive officer of the West Health Institute. “We support efforts to advance health care technology with tools that make it easier for manufacturers to implement standards that could improve patient care and reduce the cost of health care.”

In a hospital today, patients in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) are typically treated using six to twelve medical devices, including defibrillators, electrocardiographs, vital signs monitors, ventilators and infusion pumps. These devices are often from different manufacturers that use incompatible communication technology and are therefore not easily integrated, requiring a costly, complex IT infrastructure. This also introduces the potential for miscommunication, adversely impacting both the patient and the timely, well-informed delivery of care, ultimately driving up the cost of health care.

About the demonstration

The demonstration, “Medical Device Integration: Completing the Last Mile” is Use Case 18 of the HIMSS13 Interoperability Showcase. Leveraging profiles from Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE), the HIT Innovations demonstration will show how software, tools and reference designs can allow for end-to-end medical device interoperability.

The West Health Institute, an independent, non-profit medical research organization, whose mission is lowering the cost of health care delivery, has developed research software designed to provide a significant portion of the software infrastructure protocols and functionality required for comprehensive end-to-end medical connectivity solutions, minimizing the amount of custom code that must be written by application developers.

Wind River, a world leader in embedded and mobile software, provides the development environments and supporting infrastructure for the HIMSS demonstration to develop, integrate, test and validate the research software with its open-platform research software running on its Wind River Linux operating system.

Specifically, the demonstration shows how point-of-care integration can occur at the device interface. This use case displays how West Health Institute-developed research software, when placed on Wind River’s operating systems, is able to move real-time information from an infusion pump to a data integrator or hub.  Status updates from a patient’s simulated infusion pump – including alarm conditions – flow seamlessly from the device interface to an electronic medical record and a clinician’s smart phone, as well as being consumed and validated via NIST test tools.

“The current lack of medical device interoperability is one of the more daunting challenges slowing the integration of advanced technologies in health care, and a major barrier to connectivity in the hospital setting,” said Santhosh Nair, general manager of intelligent systems group at Wind River. “Wind River has a rich heritage of medical technology expertise that has us uniquely positioned to play a key role in helping to drive medical device interoperability; and together with West Health and NIST, we are demonstrating that seamless standards-based communications directly from medical devices is possible.”

At NIST, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce and one of the nation’s oldest physical science laboratories, researchers are collaborating with medical device experts to facilitate the development and adoption of standards for medical device communications throughout the health care enterprise, as well as integrating it into the electronic health record. NIST has on-going test methods research and has designed, developed and made freely and publically available conformance test tools across a variety of health care domains including message validation of medical devices. The industry has adopted and made use of the tools enabling standards-based approaches and feedback, leading to improved medical device data communication and more accurate standards. Such standard-conformant efforts address high-priority needs in health care, including patient safety, clinical decision support and data input and retrieval of health data via electronic health record (EHR) and electronic medical record (EMR) systems. For more information, please visit www.nist.gov/medicaldevices.

“Despite the great work on interoperability standards to date, including profiles published by IHE, as an industry we continue to fall short on adoption of these standards,” said Joyce Sensmeier, vice president of informatics for the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS). “I am thrilled that the HIT Innovations demonstration shows how standards integration from EHR to the device is possible to improve patient safety and drive down costs.”