Awareness of and desire for interoperability is growing. But with the technology landscape ever changing, where does the dedicated biomed start?

Monroe Pattillo and John Garguilo want the first stop to be the Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE) Patient Care Device (PCD) domain. The IHE focus group deals with patient-centered equipment and how to transmit the data it collects to an electronic medical record. The group also publishes a number of profiles, such as Device Enterprise Communication, that constrain more general standards such as HL7 for a particular context.

The idea is to make standards available to vendors so they can implement effective solutions. At the same time, they allow biomeds to hone in on suitable equipment so that hospitals can choose solutions with a reasonable degree of confidence that they will perform as expected, when required.

“It’s a means of acquiring equipment that you don’t have to start from scratch,” said Pattillo, IHE-PCD planning committee cochair. Pattillo and Garguilo, a computer scientist with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, will discuss the standards with Jeff McGeath of Iatric Systems at the upcoming AAMI conference in Philadelphia.

Part of IHE’s toolkit is the Connectathon, an annual event that allows vendors to test drive their solutions in a protected environment, in advance of the Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) trade show. Approximately 150 manufacturers sign up as “actors” to either send or receive data according to a specific integration profile, with success measured on a pass/fail basis.

“The goal ultimately is interoperability. This is an open environment where you can test your product against other consumers or reporters and see how you do. It’s a really good sandbox,” Garguilo says. Those completing the tests over a 5-day period may go on to the HIMSS Interoperaibility Showcase and are published online in the Connectathon Results Browser. Biomeds can then use that list as a starting point to ensure that vendors conform to relevant profiles.

This year’s presentation will be the first geared toward the biomeds making the purchases. “You might say, ‘I need to go buy pumps,’” Patillo says. “What kind of pumps? Do you want your alarms going to clinicians? How do you want the data recorded? Do you want to be able to safely program those pumps? All those things are included in IHE PCD profiles.”

“We’re trying to get the information out there that you can ask your vendor to conform to IHE profiles,” he adds. “That will make it a lot easier when you decide which equipment to purchase and how to deploy it.”

Benefits of IHE PCD Standards-Based Interoperability will take place Sunday, June 1, 8:30 – 9:45 am. 

Jenny Lower is associate editor for 24×7. She can be reached at [email protected].