Mary Russell, MJ BS RN, Sr. Director, Clinical Services, CliniComp

The types of medical devices available and their use in patient care continue to accelerate. The medical devices market is anticipated to surpass $656B by 2032, and it is poised to reach a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.0% between 2023 and 2032. From monitoring devices, infusion pumps, implanted devices, autoinjectors and diagnostic devices to wearables, the number of devices – and the data they produce – has exploded. 

For healthcare organizations, that means a constant barrage of possibilities for new and better technology. Yet, when viewed through the lens of improving patient outcomes, data integration rises to the top of the priority list. What clinicians want from all these devices and the electronic health record (EHR) is data that has been normalized throughout the continuum of care to provide a holistic view of the patient and accurate, reliable, interactive data to inform their care decisions – without adding to their burden. 

What’s more, in today’s environment fraught with clinician frustration and burnout, the need to attract and retain clinical staff is critical to every healthcare organization’s financial viability. Well-integrated data benefits the entire care journey, from care access and delivery to coding, billing and payment to ongoing quality improvement. Delivering that holistic patient view with technology that streamlines and supports clinical, administrative and financial processes becomes a competitive advantage. 

With a focus on patient outcomes, healthcare leaders who keep the key benefits of data integration in mind will more efficiently overcome the challenges of adopting the most valuable medical technologies for their organization. 

The challenges with rapidly evolving technology 

As the medical device market expands through ongoing innovation, healthcare leaders must take a pragmatic approach to evaluation prior to investment. For example, new technology provides a wide range of patient monitoring using both wired and wireless modalities. In the case of patient monitoring, technology is now making it possible to monitor patients non-invasively for electroencephalography (EEG), hemodynamic status, cerebral perfusion pressure and more. Thoroughly assessing which new technologies will provide the most value requires input from the staff that will implement the devices. 

Healthcare leaders should collaborate closely with front-line physicians, nurses and other clinicians as well as IT staff to determine the best solutions. Given the expectations of today’s clinicians for modern systems that provide an integrated view of patient information, it’s important to make the likelihood for strong clinician adoption part of the evaluation process. 

In addition, many healthcare organizations have built their infrastructure around a best-of-breed approach, which may present new challenges for data integration. When evaluating new technologies, it’s important to consider their adherence to industry standards, such as Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resource (FHIR) as well as infrastructure compatibility across the enterprise.

Lastly, organizations must also take into account not just the cost of the solution, but the other associated costs, such as infrastructure changes, integration with the EHR, and staffing requirements for implementation, training and ongoing support. For example, integrating device data with the EHR may incur significant costs, depending on the contract model. In particular, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) agreements may charge separately for device integration, while other models, such as System-as-a-Service (SYaas), typically cover all the costs related to new device adoption. 

Data is key to better patient outcomes

According to a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report, most people will experience at least one diagnostic error in their lifetime. Diagnostic error is an increasingly recognized threat to public health and is responsible for up to 17% of adverse events in inpatient settings. 

Giving physicians and all members of the care team the same holistic view of each patient has a direct impact on reducing diagnostic errors and adverse events, such as falls and medication administration errors. For example, data from the EHR and a wide range of devices can be integrated into a dashboard to monitor multiple patients. Automated algorithms can be applied to analyze vital signs, lab results, drug titration, ventilator data, etc., to identify patient deterioration and alert staff, leading to early intervention. When clinical teams have all the data they need at their fingertips, patients receive the most appropriate care and achieve better outcomes. 

Data increases clinician satisfaction 

Healthcare leaders are well aware that clinicians continue to be frustrated that EHRs are too much of a focus in their day. According to a Stanford Medicine poll, physicians say that 62% of time devoted to each patient is being spent in the EHR. One of the biggest frustrations for clinicians is trying to locate and chart patient information across multiple systems. 

Data integration creates a bridge across systems to present clinicians with a complete picture of the patient for diagnosis and treatment while supporting efficient workflows. Time savings are significant when EHR data and device data are integrated and available to clinicians from any location across the organization. For example, vital signs, hemodynamic monitors, and cardiac waveforms, including complex automatic measurements, can be assessed in one view to enable timely, informed treatment decisions. When data is well integrated and presented in useful, interactive ways, clinicians can make informed care decisions, save time and experience higher job satisfaction. 

Integrated data flows through downstream processes

Integrated data delivers the same benefits to administrative and financial processes. With data such as patient demographics, insurance and clinical documentation readily available, prior authorization, coding, billing and reimbursement are more accurate and efficient, leading to fewer denials. In addition, today’s consumers are savvier and expect transparency upfront about insurance coverage and out-of-pocket costs, supporting higher payment rates and improved patient satisfaction. 

Data feeds ongoing quality improvement

Having access to a wealth of integrated data for analytics supports ongoing quality improvement as well as research. Organizations can continuously review care delivery and outcomes to assess best practices. For example, data can be identified to support scoring and automated algorithms to assess risk, disease progression, care protocols and more. These insights can be applied to rapidly implement improved care protocols that prevent poor outcomes and strengthen value-based care delivery, leading to enhanced patient experiences. 

Putting new technology to work in the best possible ways

As the healthcare industry continues to innovate, organizations need to make data integration that supports patient care and clinician satisfaction integral to technology adoption. Clinicians expect a holistic view of the patient with easy-to-analyze data that informs their care decisions. And patients and their families expect care teams to focus on personal interactions more than computers.  

Well-integrated data benefits all teams overwhelmingly: Providers regain the joy of taking care of patients, administrative and financial teams work more effectively, hospitals get paid quickly and accurately, and patients achieve the best possible outcomes while having the personalized experience they’ve come to expect. Moreover, delivering a holistic patient view with technology that streamlines and supports clinical, administrative and financial processes becomes a competitive advantage for healthcare organizations in their market.

About Mary Russell

Mary Russell, MJ, BS, RN, is the Senior Director of Clinical Implementations for CliniComp, the pioneer in high-performing, reliable electronic health record (EHR) solutions.