Networking ignored by medical automation

The PC industry has lots of standards to choose from, which interoperate. The medical market needs the same thing.

Tim GeeWhen you buy a printer you expect to find a driver for it, one you can easily install, which will allow ready communication between it and your PC. You expect it to deal with files created by your PC, and you expect your PC to deal with its files, too.

It took years for this to become routine, and replicating this ease-of-use is one of the great challenges open source still faces.

In the medical device market, however, this work has not even begun. In fact it has barely been imagined.

Tim Gee (above) has been trying to deal with this problem for years and says that while it's possible to move data between medical devices and EMR health record systems, the process is such a mess that most hospitals don't even try.

The problem is simple, a lack of common standards. Even devices from the same maker may differ.

This is nothing less than a scandal. Common standards and interfaces are needed to change this. The PC industry has lots of standards to choose from, which interoperate. The medical market needs the same thing.

In response to a direct question about this on his blog, Gee places much of the blame on device makers (the picture is from that item, showing what hospitals have to do in order to gain any connectivity at all):

Dongles on a medical deviceThe lack of standards and vendor's obsessive pursuit of proprietary end-to-end solutions can make connectivity very expensive at best, and confusing and hard to use at worst. It's easy to get painted into a corner by proprietary systems, or forced to adopt a mosaic of systems from vendors who only provide part of the solution. And due to the cost, not to mention the pervasive use of medical devices, implementing connectivity must be done in phases over time.

If you're a networking vendor and want to make a ton of money, I would suggest you get to work on this problem stat.


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