Engineers brainstorm to connect healthcare systems

Engineers brainstorm to connect healthcare systems
Nearly 600 computer engineers are gathering at the IHE NA Connectathon Convention in Cleveland. (Source: WOIO)
Nearly 600 computer engineers are gathering at the IHE NA Connectathon Convention in Cleveland. (Source: WOIO)

Keeping track of your health, especially if you have different doctors and get treatment at different hospitals, can be a big challenge. But some computer wizards are gathering this week to find a solution.

Making our healthcare systems work better and more efficiently starts with letting hospitals talk to each other. The problem is, each hospital

has its own software and systems.

So how does the industry make sure they can speak to each other?

You make sure by putting 570 computer engineers all in one room for an entire week, and you tell them to talk to each other. Well, not actually to
each other, but you tell their computers to talk to each other.

That's what's happening this week in Cleveland at the IHE NA Connectathon Convention. This is a difficult and unique task. Most industries would never sit down and make sure they are compatible with their competitors.
"It's very rare that they all sit down at the same table," says Joyce Sensmeier, president of Integrating of the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE). "We have over 100 companies here today that are normally competing out in the market place."
One of those software engineers in Cleveland is Tom Spencer, who works in England.

"Most people in here are engineers. And all that competitiveness goes out the window. We just want to prove -- we're junkies -- what we want is, we want to do tests and we want them to pass, and if they pass, then that is a good day."
The medical industry understands if there are going to be advancements, your medical information should be able to transfer from point A to point Z seamlessly.
"You would never get one of these participants to say it's that simple, but at the end of the day, that's the goal. Patient information is available wherever and whenever it's needed, by the clinician in a secure environment," says Sensmeier.
That's the other side of this: security. Although in the massive conference room of the new convention center they're transferring fake information back and forth, eventually, in the real world, they will be responsible for passing your private health records.  

"There are always going to be hackers and others trying to get at data and damage, so we try to keep up with that, and we're doing a pretty good job so far," says Sensmeier.
Keep in mind this conference is normally held in Chicago and has been for the past 16 years. This year, it's in Cleveland and you can thank the Med Mart and brand new convention center for that. The estimated economic impact this conference is bringing to local hotels, restaurants and attractions is about $680,000.

Copyright 2015 WOIO. All rights reserved.