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.

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