Friday, June 29, 2012

Ascom Wireless Acquires GE Nurse Call

You may have remembered back during HIMSS – I made some comments  on the blog about GE’s nurse call and may have even said something along the “lack of vision” lines.  (which my mother said was shockingly not nice of me to say)  GE did have a strong lack of vision surrounding its nurse call product…if you remember GE purchased EST who had purchased the once competitive Dukane line.  As they divested the “Security” division of their product lines (EST) due to the lack luster performance the nurse call line was shuffled around and never could get past their market status of third place.

So here is what really blows my mind - GE potentially they had the perfect scenario… cool would it be to walk in and offer everything soup to nuts to make your hospital run. (If you are a dreamer thinker – why wouldn’t GE just have a hospital…why not?)   Even if the hospital didn’t want everything – how amazing would it have been to have access to every piece of a hospital – think of the flexibility and potential for innovation.  The potential intellectual capital was just squandered – to me this was purely an execution faux-paux on the part of GE.  They had all the pieces – they just couldn’t get them to move together.
I find the acquisition to be really interesting play for Ascom Wireless as well – while they have had reportedly good success with their nurse call line Internationally – I do wonder if the same model will apply in the US.   The company line is that the nurse call and wireless phone system will be “kept separate” as to not upset too many apple carts (since Ascom distributes both through nurse call manufactures, and independent integrators).  It would be silly to keep that mindset for long.

Ascom offers a nice middleware product called Unite – same thought process of all middleware it interfaces to different alarm generating technologies such as nurse call and distributes the information the assigned caregiver.   The acquisition gives them more control on the development side of the product – creating better workflows but it limits their vendor agnostic approach to market.   It’s perplexing why that they would tether themselves to another “end point” device – like they have done with their handsets – Yes, I know that Unite integrates with several handset devices BUT if you know middleware you know they integrate best to their own handset.
Areas where disruption may occur in the space – Distribution (who is selling it, not who is shipping it), IP consolidation, and IP development……further market consolidation.

Nurse Call is a really interesting technology....not interesting in a creative way - interesting in a how are we going to mold this old school technology, that's required by code, into a new highly relevant my new favorite CMIO would say - "Where is the Disruption?!"  It's hardware and software blended together and without one being high quality it will fail to meet the expectations of the hospital.   
My firm belief is that the hardware will continue to decrease in value and the software will continue to increase….but not just software the content of that software is the real value.     Watch the market - I think another Nurse Call company will make movement like this soon......

Monday, June 4, 2012

A Passion for Patients

I am often on planes – seems to be the blessing and curse of success - I have to admit, after working and being away from my family for several days, I usually just want to slip on my head phones and look out the window, but sometimes my seat mate just wants to chat. 

It was a Thursday, I missed #2’s baseball game the night before so I was a little grouchy, and I was eager to get home to spend time with my boys.  I had splurged $50 to upgrade to Airtran “1st class” which generally translates to a comfortable quiet trip home.  As I was praying the plane wouldn’t break, in walked my seat buddy – a 6’5  55+year old woman carrying a 10 month old baby.  There went quiet….though the conversation that followed was much more than I ever imagined.

We talked about the airplane – we talked about raising children – we talked about travel abroad - we talked about the Lord and then we talked about her adorable baby.   Soon I learned her name was “Mary” and it was her grandson who was only 4 months old when his mother, her youngest daughter, had passed away.  The story struck me, but more than that - staring into the face of the little boy on her lap - it broke my heart to imagine my boys growing up without me. 

Her daughter was a vibrant healthy young woman who became ill and deteriorated over several months.  She had several visits to the emergency room of their rural hospital with little answers.   Eventually, she was admitted to that hospital, Mary kept her children and her husband stayed with her as her advocate.  The baby became ill and Mary had to bring him to ER, when she arrived her son-in-law left his wife alone and met her to check in and see his son.  While he was gone, his wife pressed her call light – with no response she went to the bathroom alone then returned to her bed.  When he returned to the floor, he saw the call light on in the hallway outside her room.  He found his wife unresponsive.  In his confusion, he pressed the call button and began yelling for help – with no answer he ran to the nurses’ station.  The unit secretary ran to another patient’s room to find the nurse.   A few moments later – Mary heard a Code Blue call to her daughter’s room.  Leaving the baby with the ER nurse she flew to the floor, but nothing could be done.  Her daughter had died.
My mind immediately went to Regina and the E-patient movement. I shared about the Walking Gallery and my dear friend’s story of the loss of her husband.  How she had inspired me, and how the people in the gallery inspire me. 

She asked me what I did in healthcare – so I shared about Noah, and what we do at Sphere3.  She asked if I could get the data about her daughter’s incident. “I am not sure” I responded – seeing disappointment flush her face – I tried to explain that some technology does not support historical records – some technology does not save any records at all especially in small rural hospitals.  There are ways for me to get to data on a go forward basis, but many times it's a challenge to get to the retrospective data if it was not planned for when the initial technology was installed.  However, I would take a look if she ever wanted me too.
I wrote a while back about the drive to do more, to make a greater impact, to intercept the incidents, to save lives…..when patients are your driver – when people are your purpose - you do more.  You find yourself listening on an airplane - when you just wanted to look out the window.  You connect with people who inspire you and will drive you to go further.   

Are you doing this for the sake of profits?
Are you doing this for the sake of the patients? 
Are you inspiring a conversation in the HIT community or are you riding on the wave of government funded HIT? 

Don't ride the wave - find your inspiration and drive for change that matters.