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Medical Device Communication Standard Aids Interoperability

The IEEE announced the release of its new healthcare standards projects for medical device communication and interoperability.

Medical device communication supports interoperability.

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- The IEEE announced the availability of its 11073-20702 —Health informatics: Point-of-Care Medical Device Communication—Standard for Medical Devices Communication Profile for Web Services.

The IEEE also announced its approval of two new healthcare standards projects, IEEE P1708—Standard for Wearable Cuffless Blood Pressure Measuring Devices, and IEEE P1752—Standard for Mobile Health Data.

The IEEE is releasing new healthcare standards to ensure interoperability and communication between healthcare devices and computer systems. The standards are used to structure data and enable data transmission across the devices.

The new protocol defines communication specifications for medical devices at the point of care that are exchanging data.

“IEEE 11073-20702 streamlines the integration of medical devices with the IP stack common to IT specialists around the world,” IEEE-SA Strategic Technology Program Director Bill Ash said in a statement. “Ensuring the safe and secure transmission of healthcare data is essential to advance value-based healthcare, giving patients easy access to their medical information and simplifying IT processes for point-of-care facilities.”

The IEEE is working to develop a set of standards that can be implemented by medical device manufacturers so all devices will be compatible, no matter what healthcare network they end up on. The IEEE want to establish objective evaluation criteria that can be applied to all healthcare wearable and Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

“The intent is to establish objective performance evaluation of wearable, cuffless BP measuring devices and may be applied for all types of wearable BP measurement devices, regardless of their modes of operation (e.g., to measure short-term, long-term, snapshot, continuous, beat(s)-to-beat(s) BP, or BP variability),” said the IEEE.

“The standard is independent of the form of the device or the vehicle to which the device is attached or in which it is embedded.”

Standardizing interoperability and data exchange practices supports data sharing that results in support for analytics, research, and clinical care needs. The standard will use data to define specifications for application programming interfaces (APIs) and assist healthcare organizations in using the data collected from connected medical devices.

“The IEEE EMBS members are highly committed, informed, and innovative biomedical engineers from around the world dedicated to finding new discoveries that can advance biomedical technologies through collaboration and translational engineering into product realization in the market place,” IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society Standards Committee Chair Carole Carey said in a statement.

“With the significant growth in the development and innovation of new technologies being applied to health and healthcare systems, the need for developing consensus standards in an open and global environment is essential.”

Healthcare organizations struggle with interoperability and lack of standardization in data exchange, which prevents them from sharing data among internal health IT systems.

Entities are also digitizing their health IT infrastructure systems, which drives the demand for interoperability. Organizations are upgrading infrastructure systems and not all of them are compatible with one another. The more programs and applications healthcare organizations build and deploy, the more important interoperability with the organization becomes.

Despite the need for a standardized way for health IT systems to share data, the industry has yet to adopt an established framework to exchange clinical data.

Lack of interoperability and API standardization makes it difficult for organizations to effectively share EHR data and other healthcare application data for analytics or research purposes. Data integration for interoperability is one of the biggest challenges facing APIs and interoperability.

Interoperability standards allow organizations to have the most relevant and up-to-date clinical data available to them when they need it. Gaps in patient records due to lack of interoperability leaves clinicians without valuable information critical to successfully diagnosing a patient. This leads to higher readmission rates, which cost organizations money.

Interoperability is important to healthcare organizations because it allows the exchange of information for convenience, research, and development. It also gives patients more confidence in their provider that their medical information is accurate, ensuring they can receive the best care possible. 


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