Monday, February 8, 2010

Product Life, Technology Life, Workflow Ability - Part 3

Technology Life Decisions are more readily linked to the exciting features that differentiate the products one from another. Some might call them frivolities, some might see them as necessities. Either way they are items that enhance the base goal of the product.

Technology Life Decisions are difficult to make due to the ever changing nature of technology. The “lifespan” for many technology decisions for medical devices is shortened to 5-6 years (sometimes more or less depending on the flexibility of the platform that is being purchased). Hospitals may delay purchase to wait for the next model to be released. Road Mapped items become decision points and actual realities become less critical. Not to say that a product, software, or service that has a vision for the future is unimportant but reality is more critical than vaporware.

Interestingly, the technology life decision points – things that a manufacture or developer creates to differentiate their product - often become base product decisions. Think of power windows. 20 or fewer years ago wasn’t it suitable to have a crank and before that wasn’t it a luxury to have a crank? Power Windows are an enhancement, but because of the end users interest they have become the standard. The point is often the technological enhancements won’t be enhancements for long .

Early Nurse Call Light Systems consisted of one light and one tone. Now we have systems that have unlimited light and sequence capability through LED and unlimited tones by allowing for wave files to be uploaded. Eventually, this will not be a technological enhancement – it too will become the standard.

So how do we bridge the gap between the technological enhancements of the new products and the apparent short comings of previous products. We believe the answer lies in Unifying Technologies coupled with proper workflow design.

For example, in a car, Micosoft SYNC integration allows the information from your mobile phone to download into the car and allows for voice command and hands-free calling through voice command. While all base capability of making a phone call while mobile is available using just your mobile phone, SYNC increases the value of the vehicle by enhancing your experience with the phone.

SYNC’s value is enhanced because of a unifying technology called BlueTooth.
Similarly, all nurse call systems can notify a caregiver of a patient’s need with a light and a tone. However, some can integrate to wireless phones allowing the caregiver to be mobile while speaking to the patient. There is intrinsic value to the time savings that a hospital will find by integrating their nurse call system to the nurses wireless phones. According to our research, over 30 minutes per day per RN or more depending on the style in which the integration is made. However, prior to today all of that is only possible with a unifying technology called Middleware. Interestingly, this "feature" and ability developed by a vendor outside of nurse call is becoming part of nurse call systems. Eliminating the need for a "unifying technology" all together.

Stay Tuned for
Workflow Ability and how you can transition from one platform to the next more easily and over a longer term investment.

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Kourtney Govro