I had lunch with a connectivity colleague the other day. We hadn’t talked in a couple of years, and when he discovered that I now worked nearby, we took the opportunity to meet at a local restaurant. We exchanged stories about family, then the conversation transitioned to work.
He has been working for a large technical company for several years, with a focus on IT, and felt the gravitational pull toward connectivity. After several discussions with leaders internal to his company, he was able to cultivate support for the company’s first connectivity project for one of its medical device product lines.
It was the first time his organization had really played with device integration, and we talked at length about what made this project different. He commented on the challenges of breaking down silos as different departments needed to learn how to collaborate in a different way. Without that teamwork, architecting the system would have been impossible. He was grateful that his colleagues from a variety of disciplines trusted each other enough to share weak points in their system, including weaknesses in the technology and lack of knowledge needed to build the system, train on it, and support it.
He also was quick to mention that he and the team had no standards or guidelines to use as a reference, as this wasn’t based on HL7 or any IHE, IEC, or AAMI integration documentation available today. The core technology of the device couldn’t be modified substantially, but they were able to make modifications to enable bidirectional data communications. Working together, he and his team had a successful product launch last summer and he feels that they have a better, more robust system because of this multidisciplinary approach.
His project was internal and based on technology controlled wholly within his company. The team doesn’t interact with external manufacturers or vendors at this time, but he planted the seeds for change in how they think about product design. He broke ground for his company because he pursued something he believed in and not just because he gave his employer a potential new revenue stream. Taking a step back, he influenced his leaders and colleagues to think a little differently about how their systems are used and what roles they play in that larger ecosystem. I felt inspired after that lunch.
It was a delight to see him and hear his story, not just because he is a friend but also because I got to hear how connectivity in healthcare continues to flourish well beyond what I typically see every day. The delivery and support of healthcare is so complex and multifaceted. Many opportunities remain for improving patient monitoring and point-of-care technologies. Finding new ways to measure a patient’s condition and better ways to report useful data are two vital areas for me. I am thrilled to see that inspirational leaders in other sectors of the medical device vendor space are working toward similar goals.
Jennifer Jackson is director, connectivity at Masimo Corporation in Irvine, CA, and a member of the BI&T Editorial Board.