The big Tele-Tracking news at HIMSS was their PDA-based bed board, coincidentally called bedboardmobile.  Having developed medical apps for PDAs myself, I was curious how they overcame the issue of limited screen real estate.  When I saw a demo, I was pleasantly surprised. Bed management apps already make use of color coding and symbols, an approach well suited to cramming a bed board on to a PDA. The display was readable, even to these middle aged eyes.  Much of the functionality available to a regular bed board client is available on the PDA.  The PDA does not update automatically in real time, but is updated as the user interacts with the application.  I was not able to get a feel for what response times might be in a real installation.  If you do bed management rounding in your hospital this might be an interesting option, even if you have large displays wall mounted in your units.

This was also the first big show since Tele-Tracking paired up with PanGo to offer an integrated 802.11-based indoor positioning system (IPS).  Advantages of picking an IPS partner, rather than connecting to whatever IPS the hospital selects, are the opportunity for deep integration between the application and the IPS system, and only having to write, maintain and support one interface.  (From what I’ve seen, IPS vendors go to considerable trouble to make this easy, so I’m not sure of the benefit of “deep integration.”)  The disadvantage is that hospitals may prefer or already have another vendor’s system.  Besides, it’s still early in the IPS market to be picking the winners.  I’ve already started to hear about hospitals with multiple IPS vendors installed. The consensus of opinion of those I talked to at HIMSS was that being IPS agnostic was the better way to go. (More on IPS in separate posts.)

The following is a little background for those of you new to Tele-Tracking.  Founded in 1991, Tele-Tracking started as a phone/IVR driven bed tracking system.  Bed tracking is their legacy product, with an upgrade to their new Bed Management Suite.  Automatic events (messages and status changes) are triggered by IVR input.  Automated delay notification (via pagers) and retrospective reporting are also provided.  There are not dashboard like displays showing summary data.

This company is the granddaddy of patient management software vendors. Most early installations were departmental rather than enterprise in scope. They have since added specialized modules for patient transport and work order management.  Work order management is a bit off target, in that managing building maintenance work orders has the barest relationship with patient flow.

Tele-Tracking has a good website with a good selection of white papers and product updates. As clearly the most established patient flow software application vendor, Tele-Tracking has all of the advantages and limitations typical of a well established vendor.