Hill-Rom’s NaviCare patient management software included a number of new things at HIMSS this year. The highlight was the new software release version 6.0 with Care Traffic Control (cute name). Integration with Vocera for both messaging and data capture added demo sizzle, although the ambient noise in the convention center resulted in less than flawless performance.

Care Traffic Control is a new system configuration focused on the basics, targeting hospital bed management including modules for transport and housekeeping.  Trimmed to the basics, Care Traffic Control represents a new building block for customers who found the complete solution too expensive or too big an implementation to take all at once.  Starting with a bed tracking system, the new packaging allows for phased implementations resulting in the same feature rich and sophisticated solution, including special modules for the ED, surgery and general patient care.  Their Platinum level product includes advanced process mapping, length-of-stay monitoring, discharge planning and staff-ratio monitoring.

In an effort to shorten  sales cycles and make NaviCare easy to buy, Hill-Rom recently offered a turn-key monthly lease program that includes hardware and core patient-flow management features.

NaviCare was founded in 1994 with a system for streamlining operations in hospital surgical departments. Over time, they evolved into a scalable system that can optimize patient flow within a department, hospital wide, or across multiple facilities. NaviCare has an installed base of 50 systems.

Due to the scope, cost and complexity, patient management software sales cycles average 12 to 18 months. Successful deployment of patient flow software requires significant up front work with the client identifying patient flow bottlenecks and planning system implementation and configuration. Dropping a system into a hospital without proper preparation (let alone vendor qualification) will result in shifting bottlenecks around rather than removing them altogether – or worse. When system sales started to build, NaviCare made the decision to try to fund growth through cash flow.  This growth strategy turned out to be inconsistent with the patient flow software business.  Cash strapped NaviCare received a $2 million investment by Hill-Rom in February 2003. With this minority equity position (about 20%), Hill-Rom began jointly marketing NaviCare’s systems to hospitals.  Almost a year later to the day, Hill-Rom acquired the remaining 84% of NaviCare Systems for $14 million.

Hill-Rom is in the process of interconnecting its portfolio of communication and patient flow solutions, so they can share information among themselves and with other hospital products and systems. This includes their patient and asset tracking system and communications module.  The integration strategy with Vocera and others is across the patient workflow product line. If they are successful in connecting equipment, systems and solutions together in an intelligent, scalable open architecture Hill-Rom will have a powerful competitive product base.