14 May 2020

Medical Device Integration: Essential Infrastructure

By Hemant Goel

When we publicly introduced our COVID-19 Response Program to help hospitals manage larger than normal volumes of ventilated patients, something else happened that we had not quite anticipated. Requests from our existing clients for additional medical device integration and connectivity skyrocketed, including requests from hospitals we considered to be advanced integrators already.

After some thought, it occurred to me that (1) there are always more devices to connect and (2) device data has many uses beyond the EMR. The present health crisis highlights the importance of connected device data and prompts many hospitals to ask what more can be gotten from this data to improve care delivery and patient outcomes.

Logically, ventilator connectivity has been the leading request from our clients. We responded with a modified version of Capsule Surveillance specifically configured for the observation of ventilated patients. We offered the solution – Capsule Ventilated Patient Surveillance Workstation (VPS workstation) – to clients who already have the Capsule Medical Device Information Platform (MDIP) infrastructure needed to run it. Eligible clients who request the surveillance technology are given free software licenses for the duration of the pandemic.

I’m pleased to report that our ventilated patient surveillance solution is now supporting front line clinicians treating COVID-19 patients in a number of U.S. hospitals. Long-time client Yale New Haven Health System (YNHHS), the first to deploy, is quite pleased with how the VPS workstation extends the reach of their respiratory therapists, pulmonologists and intensivists to remotely provide clinical guidance to care providers in patient areas. Some at Yale envision the continued practice of ventilated patient surveillance beyond the pandemic, suggesting that it could become a standard of care at YNHHS hospitals, if not for all acute care providers.

The second most popular request from our clients has been for connecting low acuity patient monitors in remote or mobile areas, asked for mainly by hospitals expanding their screening and triage locations. Some clients are also wanting to integrate device data to other systems – such as patient surveillance, clinical research, and alarm/event management. These applications can help clinicians decrease the number of trips they take into patients’ rooms, reducing exposure to infection, while allowing care providers to keep a close eye on their most vulnerable patients.

In addition to the direct clinical benefits of medical device integration, there are also practical benefits. Key activities that receive little press are performed by the biomedical engineers and IT professionals to make sure that medical devices, like ventilators and monitors, are cleaned, working, safe, connected and ready for the next patient. Having the remote visibility into whether the device is in use and reliably operating helps reduce exposure and risk for technicians in an already chaotic and intense environment. Centralized, remote connectivity management can provide a work-from-home option for IT personnel, or a mobile view for biomedical engineers, to monitor uptime and health of the device integration infrastructure without having to enter a more infectious than usual clinical environment.

For our existing clients, adding and integrating devices with hospital systems, and setting up remote device management are quick and clinically impactful ways to extend their existing Capsule MDIP. I am pleased to tell you that we continue to help both existing and new clients deploy these enhancements, even without Capsule implementation specialists going on site. We are doing all of this so that you on the front lines of the battle with COVID-19 have the most efficient workflows and systems for using clinical data in saving lives.

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