How good can new technology be when it doesn’t communicate to our existing systems? When we think of current hospital room technology, we think of many different systems and devices that all produce data. What good are data points that are disconnected from one another? The term “interoperability” can get lost in the hum of tech buzzwords around us. But as we think about the future of data-driven patient care, we see that “interoperability” is much more than tech talk. It is a mandatory component of the patient room of the future. Our devices must talk to one another and communicate important information to our nursing staff in an intelligent, actionable way.
We’ve taken a look at how interoperability impacts patient care in ways beyond the EMR. And we’ve considered how it impacts Stage 3 Meaningful Use. But as we look into a future of truly connected “smart” patient rooms, interoperability becomes a much more crucial issue.
Amplion’s The Smart(er) Patient Room of the Future is an interactive eBook that explores the challenges, opportunities, myths, and obstacles on the road towards truly smart patient rooms.
One of the biggest fallacies surrounding the Smart Room is that someone must, or can, own all of it. In a green field, where you are building from the ground up, it’s plausible that one organization could outfit a hospital with a single-source Smart Room. But again, that’s not the reality for the majority of providers. Somehow, someway we need to arrive at a set of interoperability standards that are defined and acknowledged. New technologies that aim to advance providers toward smarter patient care have to accommodate legacy technologies that exist. They must be flexible. They must be interoperable.
Of course, a large body of work with interoperability will ensure that new systems can effectively connect to a patient’s EMR. But that’s only part of the challenge, and the opportunity. Interoperability has to include the ability for all devices to talk to all systems. It is devices that collect patient data. As it is collected, data needs to be sent to the systems or people who need it, in real time. Those devices have to talk to the data in the system and the system has to talk back.
One likely answer for tech-powered Smart Rooms of the future is an intelligent hub in each room that is single wire connected. Such a hub can act as a Smart Room controller. With open standard design, this hub would allow for devices to “plug in” both from a functionality perspective as well as a power source. In essence, this intelligent hub would act as a network switch, enabling every device, from alarm management technologies, to nurse call, to a web cam (video sitter) to get power and have a data connection.
In the past, technology in hospitals was largely dominated by a small handful of vendors. Time and again, this has led to disconnects between new technologies. Providers have consistently been frustrated because specific technology solutions couldn’t talk to each other. There has always been this challenge of control.
This journey toward interoperability will not be completed overnight. In the meantime, hospitals should be laying the groundwork, thinking ahead and establishing foundational infrastructure to take full advantage, because eventually, interoperability will happen.
Take a longer look at interoperability and the future of the patient room in our new eBook, The Smart(er) Patient Room of the Future.