One of the key barriers to overcoming patient flow bottlenecks is the lack of feedback on what patient flow studies have shown are very fragmented activities and resources that surround the patient.  If you can't measure it, how can you manage it?  At the same time, information overload is a growing problem as we move from paper and phone driven processes to automated workflow. To be effective, users need the right information, in context, at the right time.

These are goals that all patient management software vendors share.  A new vendor, awarix, has taken a decidedly different approach to meeting them.

Awarix was founded in 2003 by a group of industry veterans lead by Gary York.  (His last company Emageon just went public.)  They have built a product using the latest technology (always an advantage for the new guy).  Their design philosophy differs considerably from previous patient flow software efforts.  They have a reference site at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Birmingham.

The design objective for awarix was to create something that provides concise information, in the right context, at the right time.  Additionally it had to be easy to learn and use, quick and easy to deploy, and easy to maintain and support.  These design goals sound common enough, the result however is not. 

Typical patient flow software solutions are dependant (sometimes highly dependant) on data entry by nurses, housekeeping, transport, and others, to drive the system.  Awarix is driven by HL7 data from existing systems (orders, results, bed status, and ADT information) and location information provided by indoor positioning systems (tracking patients and assets).  There is no IVR, no data entry devices, nor any running to the PC to enter an event.  The system does provide messaging, but not to the granularity of a data capture oriented solution.  This simplification results in less training, quicker deployment and more rapid user adoption.

Out in the hospital large flat panel displays show that area's floor plan with icons and color coded workflow and status. At a glance anyone on the unit can see what rooms are occupied, rooms with planned discharges, rooms to be cleaned, and patients with orders or results.  Patient safety indicators can also be displayed – NPO, isolation, monitored patient, patient with IV, etc.   Icons can also show new orders, stat orders, and patients who need to have vitals captured.

For management, there are KPI (key performance indicators) dashboard displays that provide a summary view of current operations.  There are also retrospective reports that can be run.   Tailored views of data are available for the usual suspects:  bed management, housekeeping, case managers, unit managers and administrators.

Combined with an indoor positioning system awarix can display real time asset and patient locations. Displays show in real-time when patients are leaving the unit, are in a diagnostic unit, or where that last IV pumps is hiding.  They've integrated with Radianse, but are IPS agnostic.

Awarix is sold as a web-based information appliance rather than a software application.  The appliance uses a web server, so a browser is all that’s needed to interact with.  It is written in Java and runs on Linux.  The appliance uses a service object architecture (to the cognoscenti, SOA) and web services to facilitate systems integration and extensibility.  Scalability and high availability is achieved by adding additional appliances.   Awarix is not a system of record, and does not include a data repository.  Data can be exported for archival via web services.  By packaging their solution as an appliance, they have eased deployment, service and reduced TCO (total cost of ownership).