Health IT

Interoperability Showcase uses car crash to show how connected data really can improve patient care

interoperability showcase trauma unit

At HIMSS in Orlando this year, the Interoperability Showcase used the story of a fictitious family of four – including a newborn and covering three generations – who were in a serious auto accident. The oldest, a 62-year-old grandfather named Charles Gorden, needed trauma care. His pregnant daughter went into premature labor.

In the trauma demonstration, the emergency department could pull up Gorden’s medical record from his primary care physician and import the information into the Epic Systems EHR while the patient was en route in an ambulance.

Upon arrival, Gorden is sent to the radiology department for a chest X-ray, which is taken with a wireless Canon digital radiography system. The radiographer pulls workflow list from a GE Healthcare radiology information system, then sends the images, with annotations, to an Infinitt Healthcare picture archiving and communications system (PACS).


Next, Gorden is transferred to an operating suite, where information from vitals monitors goes right into the EHR, following IHE’s Patient Care Device technical framework. Computerized physician order entry (CPOE) is connected to a wireless CareFusion infusion pump to assure the patient gets exactly the intravenous fluids the doctor ordered. The pump, programmed by Hospira MedNet safety software, automatically documents progress back to the EHR every five minutes.

The trauma demonstration also included a syringe system from Crisi Medical Systems that has not yet gained Food and Drug Administration clearance for sale. That technology scans the patient’s record and can stop delivery of injectable drugs and anesthesia if it detects a potentially harmful allergy or interactions.

Gorden’s wounds were too severe, and he died. Even that sad scenario presented a chance to show how interoperability works in end-of-life care.

Gorden’s daughter, Jane Smith, 32, was pregnant, and the accident caused her to go into labor, so another section of the showcase covered labor and delivery and, for the baby, a neonatal intensive care unit. Other displays included well child care for Smith’s 6-year-old daughter, weight management, cancer care in a clinical trial, preventive care and emergency care linked to a medical home.

In all cases, data goes in and out of patient records fairly seamlessly, and eventually across health information exchanges.

Throughout the showcase, real-time location system tags from Guard RFID tracked the movement of people and equipment.

“Location services are now integrated with higher-level systems,” said Dalibor Pokrajac, vice president of engineering at Guard RFID, of Delta, British Columbia. For example, hospital staff carry tags with panic buttons so they can summon security instantly in case of a threat.

Pokrajac said the technology is in use at about 120 healthcare facilities.

A highlight of the sprawling Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) show floor each year is the Interoperability Showcase, a series of displays highlighting how interconnected health and medical IT systems can improve the quality of care and enhance patient safety.

The 12th annual Interoperability Showcase took up more than 40,000 square feet of exhibit space and featured the products and services of close to 80 vendors. Data flowed freely but securely between disparate modalities, showing that it is possible to break down all the silos that exist in healthcare when following standards endorsed by Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE).

IHE was founded as a joint project of HIMSS, the Radiological Society of North America and the American College of Cardiology in 1998. It became an independent entity in 2010 and remains a centerpiece of the Interoperability Showcase.

“Definitely adoption [of IHE protocols] is growing,” said Sandra Vance, senior director of interoperability initiatives at HIMSS. Vance, however, said she was unsure if anyone had definitive data on IHE adoption.

“ONC’s involvement in IHE has definitely helped that uptake,” Vance added. Dr. Doug Fridsma, chief science officer of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) keynoted the IHE North American Connectathon Conference on Jan. 29 in Chicago, offering support for a new IHE testing track called New Directions.

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