From acute care clinical settings, to vital-sign monitoring, and devices that make telemedicine an accurate diagnostic and treatment discipline, medical devices are playing an ever-increasing role to transform healthcare delivery. These devices have the ability to capture critical medical data, available (perhaps) multiple times per second, on a per-patient basis. However, for the most part, they are unable to communicate with one another and offer almost no plug-and-play interoperability. Lack of reference implementations for existing device interface standards and unanswered questions regarding the safety and performance of networked systems-of-systems are among the challenges to achieve such interoperability. A standard interoperable framework will allow novel clinical solutions to be safely and efficiently incorporated.
Interoperability will enable:
- Standards-based connectivity of medical devices to IT networks and streamlining equipment management and deployment.
- New medical sensors and actuators (manufactured by small vendors) that can be integrated with the existing infrastructure as they become available.
- Easily deployable protocols & treatment solutions that are driven by what the healthcare providers need instead of what a technology manufacturer can supply.
- Fewer transcription errors and a richer set of information with which clinicians can manage their patients.
- Synchronization, safety interlocks and closed-loop device control for medical devices.
NIST researchers (in collaboration with experts from other agencies, industry and academia) are currently working on efforts that promote standard-based medical device interoperability and communication. Additional information on each effort can be found below.