The Wheels on the Bus Go ‘Round

We were driving from St. Louis to Chicago on a Sunday afternoon for an appointment Monday morning.  When we were about an hour and a half outside of Chicago, our tire blew.  We were close to an exit, so I pulled off the highway and into a truck stop to assess the situation.  We have these run flat tires that allow you to go 50 miles at 50 mph.  We had more than 50 miles to go to our destination and I didn’t feel comfortable driving 50 mph on an interstate where people were going 80+ mph, so I assessed the situation. 

We needed a new tire.  Can we get a new tire somewhere close? Nope.  Many of the tire stores in the area were closed since it was late Sunday afternoon.  The big tire stores (Walmart and Sears) didn’t carry the tire we needed and would have to order it.  We had to be towed to the dealer in Chicago, so I called roadside assist.

I had two passengers with me, so I knew that riding in a standard tow truck was not going to work.  I requested a tow with 3 passenger ride along. I was given a 2 hour ETA.  I got a call from the contracted towing company about 40 minutes later.  I confirmed that there was room for 3 passengers.  Unfortunately, this was not communicated to the towing contractor, so the truck that was in the area did not have the room for 3 passengers.  This prompted another call to roadside assist and a new towing company dispatched a truck for us.  

This is not the end of this story, but it is enough for this post.  I relay this story because sometimes things get lost in translation.  It’s like when you played telephone as a kid.  You tell someone something, they tell someone else and so on.  By the end, what is being said may not be the same as what you told the first person.  

How does this apply to healthcare technology?  Many practices have seen the value  of in-house lab and imaging equipment for their business.  They can offer these services internally instead of referring the patients out to other businesses.  The issue is that not all lab and imaging devices can speak the same language as the practice’s EMR.  Sometimes the devices only communicate via serial or network via ASTM,  ABX, or Argos.  Sometimes the EMR will only accept HL7.  Mi7 has developed the expertise to take the device languages and translate the data to HL7 or, in some EMR’s, write the data directly to the EMR.   With the government incentives and mandates to store discrete data (test results as individual values), practices have been printing out these results and manually entering them.  This can reduce employee productivity and introduce potential errors to the result transcription process.  

I have seen practices take the data from these machines and create proactive marketing (called “health maintenance” programs in the patient arena) campaigns to promote patient maintenance of A1C, Cholesterol, and other key chronic maintenance values.  This helps the practices pay for the device and improve overall patient health.

There are many types of devices that collect and report on data.  If you are paying for the device, why not use the data provided by the device to improve patient care and potentially grow your business? Use the devices you have.  Maximize the value of data collected by these devices. It’s your data. Use it.