Thursday, July 22, 2010

Intuitive Caller ID

During many of my phone interviews with CEO’s “Please excuse the noise” is often referring to airport pages, bustling people, or highway traffic. This particular late Friday afternoon, Todd Plesko, CEO of Extension, was referring to his family – namely a gaggle of children preparing to head to the lake. Making family a priority is a challenging thing to do when you are running a start up (from the voice of experience) but he has chosen to set priorities according to his values. He sneaked in an hour of time to talk with me about his company's rise from concept to actual.

As we chatted about industry changes and his appliance style “Red Box” (which makes me think of movie rentals.....) I kept thinking how is this software different from any other Integration Software on the market – or is it just another “Me Too” application to ride the wave of Cisco’s movement (did I say movment - oh I meant potential Tsunami) into the market. Then almost in passing he said something about “Caller ID” and I thought "Did he really just call Integration Software Caller ID?" To reduce the solution to that seems is to reduce value and make it appear like something that a call manager could do.

However, as I listened the story became really clear.   What Todd and the team are claiming is not "Caller ID" like you would get from a simple SIP interface, it's multiple pieces of data compiled into one. Think about it - here is a team that started as a ReSeller of GE Centricity, created a hosted solution, and has a strong foundational knowledge of HL-7 and medical records. This is not a integration software company focused on alerts - this is a healthcare company focusednon information - or to use Todd's words Aggregate Data.

I think that better terminology is "Intuitive Caller ID." Intuitive because of the ability to garner information from the medical record and build a messaging structure that includes not only an alert but decision enhancing data. Their strength appears to be more data rich message need such as Lab. The challenge will be communicating that to the marketplace and delivering on the workflow design.  The product has a lot of flexibility to the "what" it can become challenging to determine how much is needed when and how.  

I think it sounds interesting, but I haven't seen it in action therefore it wouldn't be fair for me to note it as a solid solition. However, Todd claims 25 installs in the United States and he claims all as raving fans so if you are looking at the product ask for the list and call. (A little word to the wise make sure you talk to a Clinician and an IT person and if possible BioMed)

All of these incredible points about the platform weaves a great outlook for their product, however it has two very notable weaknesses. Integration software companies are easily assessed by their ability to integrate to telemetry and the quantity of available output points. Extension is really limited in both areas - they have no current telemetry integrations. A strong Telemetry relationship is important as that information point can be critical to a hospital’s mobility plan. Though there are many work around design models, at some point it needs to become a cog in the workflow communications plan.  Second, current state they only integrate to Cisco VOIP wireless phones. Though Ciscos presence in the marketplace can't be ignored - they are the Golliath of every industry.  Nor can you think little of any company hitching their wagon to them - it is Cisco. The handset has a lot of challenges with durability and the integrations I have seen the user interface for alarm messaging can take several button pushes to get to the information. The biggest benefit Cisco VOIP phones have - brand and recognition by everyone as a leader in every aspect of IT.

Todd and the team at Extension do have a strategy to begin to expand their output device capability as they plan to launch an intuitive message platform for the Iphone, Droid, and Blackberry in September. They are targeting Doctors with the ability to use their personal phones to obtain data about their patients and interact with it in a meaningful way. While I see it as a response to the Voalte, Amcom, and Connexall solutions their plan is to raise the bar by offering a FDA Class 3 certified solution. I look forward to seeing it.

Thanks again to Todd for the great conversation.

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