MD FIRE program aims to integrate medical devices to improve the safety of medical care

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In an effort to hasten the availability of medical device interoperability to drive safer patient care and clinical efficiency, the Medical Device Plug-and-Play (MD PnP) Interoperability Program announced the launch of “MD FIRE,” the Medical Device Free Interoperability Requirements for the Enterprise collaboration at the American Society of Anesthesiologists 2008 Annual Meeting held October 18-22 in Orlando, Florida.

The MD PnP Program in collaboration with the Massachusetts General Hospital, Partners Healthcare, Johns Hopkins Medicine and Kaiser Permanente has taken on the challenge of pushing for integration of medical devices to improve the safety of medical care. With MD FIRE, these institutions have agreed to use shared acquisition contracting requirements to promote vendor compliance and adoption of interoperability and connectivity standards for medical devices.

MD FIRE makes available a shared sample Request for Proposal (RFP), white paper, and contracting language which hospitals are encouraged to use to accelerate the adoption of fully interoperable medical devices and systems. Further information and documents can be found at

“Our collaboration through the Medical Device Plug-and-Play Program over the last four years led us to conclude that we, as Healthcare Delivery Organizations (HDOs), must lead a nationwide call to action for interoperability of medical devices and systems to improve patient safety,” said Julian M. Goldman, M.D., of MD PnP/Massachusetts General Hospital. “One way that HDOs can effect this change is by including medical device interoperability as an essential element in the procurement process and in vendor selection criteria.”

The collaboration of these noted institutions reflects a common goal to document clinical demand for services and equipment, and encourages the development and adoption of medical device interoperability with the goals of improving the safety and treatment for patients and increasing efficiency in clinical settings.

“Unlike most modern technology such as the internet and USB memory sticks, medical devices have traditionally been designed to operate independently on proprietary protocols and interfaces, limiting the sharing of essential data and preventing us from building smarter, safer, “error resistant” systems. As the healthcare environment becomes increasingly complex, stand-alone, proprietary devices and systems no longer provide an acceptable solution,” said Dr. Goldman.

MD FIRE seeks to hasten the development and adoption of industry standards for medical device connectivity among vendors, resulting in medical devices and systems that easily integrate with other vendors’ equipment, software, and other systems.

Dr. Goldman adds that the new standards will improve healthcare quality, reduce healthcare costs and provide for more comprehensive and secure management of health information. Examples of these potential improvements to the safety and quality of care have been demonstrated at previous annual meetings of the ASA and can be found at

The MD PnP Program was established in 2004 to lead the evaluation and adoption of open standards and technologies for medical device interoperability to support clinical innovation. The Program is affiliated with Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovation Technology (CIMIT), and Partners HealthCare Information Systems, and has additional support from the U.S. Army Telemedicine & Advanced Research Center (TATRC). The MD PnP Program is based at MGH and CIMIT in Boston, Massachusetts.

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