Medical devices, MHS GENESIS: DHITS session focuses on ties that bind

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  • Military Health System Communications Office
The opportunities and challenges of integrating medical devices with MHS GENESIS was the focus of a breakout session Wednesday, July 31, at the 2019 Defense Health Information Technology Symposium, or DHITS. The theme of this year's event, sponsored by the Defense Health Agency, is "One Team, One Mission – Enabling MHS Transformation."

"Integrating medical devices in real time with the electronic health record allows seamless work flow, data flow to happen instantaneously," said Saad Khan, the DHA's chief of biomedical devices integration.

Khan explained that across five clinical capabilities – anesthesia, laboratory, PACS (picture archiving and communications system), pharmacy, and physiological monitoring – 17,359 individual medical devices are currently connected to legacy electronic health records. They include heart, blood pressure, and anesthesia monitors in operating rooms.

Khan is lead of the Medical Device Integration Task Force. Among the group's duties was developing a list of devices that should be connected at the go-live stage of implementing MHS GENESIS. The task force is also working to ensure that devices connected to legacy systems will work with the new electronic health record.

"In order to maintain current interoperability of medical devices within the five clinical capabilities, these medical devices must not lose connectivity at the MHS GENESIS go-live stage," Khan said. "It's critically important that patient safety is never compromised during the implementation of MHS GENESIS."

Khan said the task force has identified medical devices that may require specialized hardware and/or interface and driver development to share data with MHS GENESIS. For some devices, he said, support for MHS GENESIS may not be validated.

Khan emphasized that across the enterprise there will be "massive standardization, not only on the device but what you're doing with it and the recording on the electronic health record. Your current workflow may not work in this new environment."

Other activities include conducting site assessment and validation 18 months to two years prior to the go-live stage, assisting with the business case analysis process for replacing vs. interfacing, and reviewing and validating all remedy tickets for new interface requirements in sustainment.

Khan said it's vital for MTFs to provide a point of contact for the task force during the preparation and execution of onsite validation; ensure equipment data records are complete and accurate; confirm all existing interfaces and use of middleware, gateways, and servers; and ensure personnel and vendors are trained and aligned to support testing and sustainment requests.

The session also covered issues related to equipment purchases and contract modifications.

"We want to get ahead of this and get you educated on what that process will look like, because it's going to be a little different than how you got it connected initially," Khan told the attendees. "Just because you can connect it, doesn't mean you should. There's a process for how you go about it."

Khan's co-presenters were Air Force Lt. Col. Richard Keller, the chief of Medical Logistics Enterprise Information; and Air Force Lt. Col. Christina Sheets, the assistant program manager for MHS GENESIS Baseline.

DHITS brings together government, military, and industry information technology professionals to share knowledge, ideas, new developments, and lessons learned. The symposium began Tuesday, July 30, and continues through Thursday, Aug. 1, at the Caribe Royale in Orlando, Florida.