By: Anura Fernando, Principal Engineer, UL Medical Software and Systems Interoperability
In the first article in this series, I covered one of three primary risks, physical harm, that medical wearable technology poses. Physical harm is the most apparent risk for wearable devices, since these types of devices are often in close proximity with the human body for extended periods of time. Another risk is lack of data interchange and interoperability between wearable devices and other information systems, since this function can be critical to the safe and effective use of patient information. Interoperability succeeds when interconnected devices, including wearables, effectively connect, exchange data, and function with each other by reading or sending data accurately in real time, and in some cases, carrying out an action based upon that data. If supported by an environment that promotes safety, security, and essential performance, interoperable devices have the potential to improve hospital workflows and improve patient outcomes. However, while 90 percent of hospitals use six or more different types of medical devices, only one out of three hospitals integrates them with their health IT, such as electronic health record (EHR) systems. Conservatively, an estimated $30 billion in the United States is lost each year as a result of this poor interoperability.