Is that medical device interoperable? Center for Medical Interoperability program will verify it

3D illustration of interoperability
The Center for Medical Interoperability is launching an industrywide verification program to confirm medical device interoperability. (Profit_Image/Shutterstock)

Nashville-based Center for Medical Interoperability is launching an industrywide verification program to confirm medical device interoperability.

The project, called C4MI Verified, will test and verify medical devices to determine compliance with selected interoperability specification requirements, the Center announced Wednesday morning. 

Working collaboratively with medical device vendors and its member health care organizations, the nonprofit Center for Medical Interoperability created a platform architecture and supporting specifications to ensure that different medical devices and systems communicate in a common language. The C4MI Verified program will first tackle patient vitals data, with more programs planned in other areas such as ventilators, the organization said.

The new program will help enable what's referred to as "plug-and-play" interoperability by improving data quality for the industry through semantic and syntactic conformance to the requirements in the center's specifications. The goal is to make patient vital sign data from medical devices more easily usable by clinicians to improve treatment and outcomes, the organization said. The program will also verify security and provisioning capabilities of the patient monitoring systems.

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Ed Cantwell, CEO of the Center for Medical Interoperability, said C4MI is focused on developing programs for different episodes of care—pediatric code blue, for example.

"When a baby goes into cardiac arrest, currently most of the medical devices around that bed are proprietary, which means the caregivers have little orchestrated data," he said. "One of our first objectives is to take that episode of care and show how a trust platform could enable each of the medical devices to send their data in a more trusted, non-proprietary way"

By doing that, clinicians and physicians will have more real-time, actionable data collected from those various medical devices at the point of care, he said.

"When a medical device interfaces with a human being in an episode of care that is where interoperability starts. Most medical devices or modalities are proprietary, which makes it difficult to collect and orchestra that data at the point of care with just a small subset of that data being captured by the electronic health records," Cantwell said.

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Founded in 2013, the Center for Medical Interoperability is a cooperative research and development lab led by health systems to advance data sharing among medical technologies and systems. The organization and its members are focused on addressing the lack of comprehensive interoperability, data liquidity and trust as it relates to data sharing across all technologies of healthcare, Cantwell said.

The organization's board of directors includes executives from major health systems such as Hospital Corporation of America, Ascension Health, UNC Health Care System and Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

The organization is focused on driving interoperability from "the inside out," Cantwell said, with its efforts complementing ongoing interoperability efforts in the public sector, such as recent interoperability regulations from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "While the government is working hard to free the data from the investment in EHRs, our focus will be to work with our members to create this definition of a trust platform," he said.

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As a result of this testing and verification program, healthcare organizations will have confidence that the solutions they purchase will be interoperable, according to Dean Harrison, president and CEO, Northwestern Memorial Healthcare, and a member of the board at the Center for Medical Interoperability.

“Both buyers and suppliers of healthcare technology stand to benefit when the marketplace shifts to support products and solutions that better serve the needs of patients and providers," Harrison said in a statement.

Through this program, the organization is beginning to implement recommendations made by the National Academy of Medicine in its recent publication that outlined an industry procurement-driven approach to interoperability.

HCA Healthcare-affiliated hospitals are now using an algorithm-driven, real-time system based on patient vital signs and other data to detect sepsis earlier and accelerate treatment, according to Jonathan Perlin, M.D., HCA Healthcare’s chief medical officer and president of its clinical services group.

“Continuous improvement in the quality of data is critical to the scaling of analytics across our health system and the C4MI Verified program will help standardize medical device-sourced data and ultimately lead to improved patient care,” Marty Paslick, HCA Healthcare’s chief information officer, said in a statement.