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What Hospitals Can Learn from Airlines About Buying Equipment

From Medtronic:

One big reason why is that hospitals purchase technologies without requiring that they communicate with each other. The optimal air flow is based on a straightforward calculation using the height of the patient. Height data, however, resides in the electronic medical record, which typically does not communicate with the ventilator…

…Because similar gaps exist between dozens of other hospital technologies, and clinicians are asked to perform hundreds of steps each day to deliver evidence-based care, unnecessary errors occur, and providers’ productivity has fallen, even while spending on technology has ballooned.

Source: What Hospitals Can Learn from Airlines About Buying Equipment

Read the whole thing. The excerpts above are just at a taste, the whole article is well worth reading. It focuses on medicine however the issues are the same for dentists.

Interoperability or more accurately the lack of interoperability in dentistry has been a prime issue of mine for years. Technology that works together and shares data would improve patient care and lower costs. The vendors who sell us technology would rather keep us prisoners in their walled garden.

Some vendors go so far as to assume our ignorance or possible stupidity by assuring us their closed systems are actually in our best interests. There is a simple two word answer to that…baloney.

One interesting idea from the linked article was for vendors to develop complete modules using technology that all works together then selling those to hospitals as a room module. It is easy to see the same idea working in dentistry where we would conceivably buy a treatment room module that comes complete with interoperable technology.

The danger of this approach will be closed modules. We do not want Henry Schein rooms that refuse to communicate with Patterson rooms and both shun Benco rooms.

Three steps are needed to improve this situation.

The first is simple awareness. Few dentists even know this is a problem.

Second is meaningful and up to date standards need to be developed. The ADA and dental industry representatives have been working on this for years and despite the best of intentions few standards have been finalized.

Third dentists need to demand interoperability as a condition of purchase. When the salesperson tells the dentist that the closed system is in the dentist’s best interest the dentist needs to give the simple two word answer.

Practically it is unrealistic for a single dentist to effect meaningful change through purchasing actions however as a profession we do have the power to create change.


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