Friday, March 30, 2012

Intego Acquired by CAS

Recently, I had the chance to chat with Charles Bell, Founder of Intego Nurse Call.  I always enjoy meeting fellow entrepreneurs - for those of you who don't know entrepreneurship is an incurable disease as much as it is a passion.

Listening to Charles, I am reminded of the raw creativity and passion that drives innovation and ultimately new jobs into our struggling economy.  Charles started his company in the early 1980s but has been in the industry since the early 1970s.  He regaled me with stories of old Zettler systems that he was able to wire and do innovative things with, but finally settled on the fact that he needed to build something all his own that would challenge the status quo.

The Intego mindset is simplicity - how can we provide a system let the RNs be with patients more?  How can we leverage what has to be there in the wall In a communication model that compliments ease of use? 

Charles speaks highly of what he calls the ROC - this model takes all the patients calls from nurse call and routes them directly to the centralized operator core.  Thus, removing the direct interaction from the caregiver and allowing her to prioritize her response using her skill set as a nurse to determine who/ what needs attention first.   The strategy is to utilize a low cost device - such as a pager - that can compile the messages the caregiver receives.

This model is one that I have been promoting for a while as well.  The data models that I have run support the idea that providing greater context to the alarm and alert message can be extremely valuable to the caregiver.  The challenge is the design model - the clinical aspects of the design must be setup by a RN with a technology background.   Someone who understands the information being recievded in the command center and how it can be distributed in a meaningful way. 

The theory is this - patient presses the big red button on their pillow speaker (aka the "paddle") the call goes to a centralized point in the hospital, such as the operator area (where external calls are received) then the operator triages them back to the floor.  (Look back to the blog I did on Chris Heim from AmCom) 

Since you are using a lay person to triage - its important to design a really simple decision tree process.  (Similar thought if you have your IT Help Desk triaging Nurse Call issues)  

What I have found looking at this model is often laziness kills it's effectiveness.  The operators may not use the available messages and only distribute a blank - assigned message - ie "PCT Needed".  If the team answering the calls are not driven to follow the process it becomes garbage in garbage out.  It is critical to manage the data associated with their effectiveness and following the process. 

The other side of this data is to identify if the caregivers are using a task list approach or varying their response based on type of need - you cannot run the data model or report on this model any more effectively than decentralized to phones if you are not following the process correctly.   

I also HIGHLY recommend coupling this with strategic automatic distribution of specific Emergency level call types AND allowing the caregiver to call back into the patients room via a call back feature on their wireless phone (or smart phone if available).

This strategy is complimented by Intego recently being acquitred by Critical Alert Systems. CAS is a relative new comer to the industry, as its a purpose built organization to compile specific technologies to drive full throttle into the industry. Charles will remain with Intego focused on driving new business and strategic relationships. 

Great conversation - thanks to Charles for taking the time to chat with me.

If you have a health IT business in the medical device space and want to be featured in the blog email me - our next feature is with Strykers Rich Mayoras - talking about their new wireless bed.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Art of the Report

I always really enjoyed stories but a confession - and I hope Mrs. Karnes is not reading thi s- I rarely read an entire book.   Generally, the beginning was interesting and so was the end but everything else was just filler.  Most  of the time after I got to know the characters a bit – I would just make up my own story.   (That's why now I stick with non-fiction)

The challenge with reading for school was the book report….due at the end of the designated reading time.  As I have started working with my kids on their book reports the reason behind the reports is becoming clear.  It’s less about the “report” of the book and more about the function of the activity.
A book report had several purposes but mainly it helps a child move from basic reading skills to true understand of the authors intent.   It teaches you to look into the materials you are reading and disect important information.  You don’t start out in 1st grade being able to read a book and describe the message.   You must first start with pulling the phonograms (sounds) into words – the words into sentences – the sentences into paragraphs – the paragraphs into stories – the stories to interpreting the materials to find its meaning. 

This is the way I look at data – right now it’s pretty dispirit – it’s a lot like phonograms.  If you don’t know about phonograms – they are a single or small group of letters that makes a sound.  My favorite is “er” as in her.   As in that example, however, “er” is part of several words – such as deter – same ending phonic but when coupled together with “de” instead of “h” it’s a different word.  Data is kind of like that too – depending on how we look at it – what pieces we add together the different pieces of data can give us different words.  The phonic does not change but the word does.  Once we build those words we can begin to link them together into sentences and so on. 
All the pieces of information could be pulled together to tell an overlying story but today – in health IT  - as we look at data most are just trying to make the phonograms say a word.    Once we are able to get the words we will be able to pick out simple attributes such as  characters names, locations, time period, etc   Once we are able to move past those simple attributes - We can progress to inferred things such as attitudes.   For example, she cried when she found out her beloved dog died.  Nowhere in the sentence does it say she was sad but you can figure it out based on what you know about crying and what you know about the death of a beloved pet.  As you progress to high school you are asked to identify big picture items such as theme.  We apply knowledge filters every day to assumptions – what do we already know to be true and how does that influence what we are looking at to get to the next level.  We reference other materials - we talk to teachers who know.

Eventually, we will be able to take the attributes and the inferred understanding of situations then apply it into a bigger picture understanding of the story – what is the theme – what is the message – what is it saying about society in general.
So what?  My small group leader at church says that at the end of each Bible Study – meaning so what does this mean to me – how do I apply this towards real life today.

The data in the medical devices, the medical records, and other technologies are independent data sets – the parts and pieces within them are the phonograms which need to be pulled together into words and will tell us a story about the patient.  As we begin to compile that data – review it across a population – it will tell us more.  Think about research papers you wrote in college – did you reference only one book? The challlenge before us is the sheer quantity of data that will need to be analyzed to get to the final answers.  Note: Not impossible.....just a challenge. :-)