Hospitals today are awash with technology: for communication for people and asset tracking; for patient treatment and monitoring.

Trouble is, off the shelf, many of these products don’t talk to each other. So to gain maximum benefit and exploit synergies between them, hospitals must embark on costly custom integration projects.

It doesn’t have to be that way, and at the Queensland eHealth Expo in June the Customer Experience Centre demonstrated what is possible when vendors work with each other to integrate their respective products.

The centre was the brainchild of IT consultant Mitchell Simpson, managing director of Clear Engagement Pty Ltd, with support from Queensland Health. He told Health IT News that it represented the culmination of a long-held vision.

“I've always thought that if organisations collaborated and put aside the transactional approach they had to business and took a strategic approach, then the customer would benefit greatly, and also the industry.”

Nine participating vendors

The centre featured technology from nine vendors: Alcatel-Lucent; Amazon Web Services; Centrak; 5 Faces; Hillrom; Rauland; SAP; Vocera and Zulafly. 

Hillrom provided a smart bed that can generate an alert when a patient tries to get out of it. This was integrated with the Rauland Nursecall system enabling alert messages to the delivered to Alcatel - Lucent fixed and DECT telephone handsets and to Vocera voice messaging pendants, via a Wi-Fi Network provided by Alcatel Lucent.

Zulafly software provided intelligence that captured location data from the Centrak’s wireless tracking technology, overlaid this on digital maps of the hospital, and presented this on the 5 Faces displays.

This system enabled the location of equipment, tracked using Centrak technology, to be displayed on a screen showing a map of a hospital.

Hospital staff were listed on the 5 Faces screen using its directory software. Staff members, or visitors, could touch the display to call the person via their Vocera badge or Alcatel Lucent telephone, and be presented with a map on how to navigate to that person’s location. They were also presented with QR code could enable them to download that route information onto their phone.

AWS provided compute and storage resources. SAP provides many applications supporting hospital administration. Information from these was integrated into the other systems in the demonstration.

Many more possibilities

Simpson said the demonstrations represented only a subset of possibilities. “There are many more use cases that could be demonstrated. We just picked a few for simplicity and because we had limited time.”

He said wider adoption of the integrations demonstrated could change hospitals’ procurement practices.

“Technology could be delivered through the integrators that have relationships with the vendors. It could be delivered through these vendors working cooperatively together. Procurement has been very siloed. This may mean that hospitals starts asking for things in a different manner.

“For example a patient experience solution in a patient room could be provided by suppliers of a number of different platforms coming together to provide a complete experience. Or a hospital could still procure each platform independently, knowing that each of them would integrate. That would be a great benefit to a customer.”

Co-operation despite competition

Simpson said the participating vendors had put a lot of hard work into integrating their platforms to demonstrate what could be done, despite having competing products in some areas.

“When I first painted the picture to them. There was some scepticism, but when they got into it, and could see what they could do they were asking me where we go next.

“To see them come together and put aside the competitive tension and work together was terrific. They demonstrated a level of maturity, and that is uncommon.”

He’s hoping to expand the collaboration to include other vendors, and said several other participants in the Expo had expressed interest.

“What you saw on the stand was a microcosm of what could be. If we were to enlarge that group we look at other areas of healthcare IT requirements.”

He has been approached by HIMSS to stage a similar demonstration at the forthcoming HIMSS Australia Digital Health Summit 2019, to be held in Sydney in November. He plans to discuss the possibility with the vendors that participated in the Queensland eHealth Expo.

 

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