Amcom Software was acquired March 3, 2011, for $163.3 million in cash (press release). USA Mobility, one of the few companies left standing in the declining pager industry, purchased the company to strengthen their position in health care, and move beyond paging into messaging and unified communications.
Amcom was built through a series of acquisitions, including messaging middleware vendor CommTech Wireless. The CommTech Wireless solution provides event notification, including alarm notification that is called out in the final MDDS rule by FDA for enforcement discretion. Amcom’s plans regarding potential FDA regulation or limiting marketing claims (to exclude alarm notification) are not known. The company was undecided when asked about it at HIMSS in 2010. One would hope that this issue arose during USA Mobility’s due diligence.
UPDATE (3/7/11): Ron Wenaas for Amcom Software writes, “as one of the leaders in this space, Amcom Software is absolutely pursuing compliance with the recently published FDA regulations.”Read More
After a breakfast meeting, I caught Brenda Vollmer’s presentation on Improving Safety Through Automation. Grand River Hospital recently installed ConnexALL to integrate WatchMate patient wandering, Siemens fire panels and Delta Controls building automation systems.
According to Brenda the implementation of ConnexALL was initiated to better align with their hospital’s patient and staff safety goals. After installation they were able to consolidate much of the management and interaction of these three event driven systems into an automated and consolidated system using ConnexALL. Specific benefits included, improved reliability, managed group notification, reduction in manual interventions, automatic alarm escalation, increased mobility (no sitting at a workstation or watching a panel), quicker decision making, and a consolidated auditing capability.
WatchMate is used for wandering, patient elopement and infant abduction. The hospital’s security is based on the premise that it’s easier to contain (a potential security situation) than retrieve, and that it’s easier to catch someone in the act than is to try to find them after the fact. WatchMate provides notification to a user at a workstation. The hospital used switchboard operators to monitor WatchMate, since they’re usually at their desks. They had to recognize the alarm, look up who to notify, and ensure that notification is made. Now, ConnexALL automatically receives alarms, notifies appropriate staff, ensures alarm delivery (including necessary automatic retry), and escalates alarm notification when necessary. (After some googling, it seems that GlobeStar integrated with WatchMate even though the product is no longer sold by the manufacturer, Xmark.)Read More
The second day of GlobeStar’s World Connex user group meeting included more informative end user experiences implementing ConnexALL.
Shawn Sicard, CEO of PiiComm in Toronto, Canada lead the customer presentations with a discussion about putting togeter complete solutions. PiiComm is a systems integrator targeting the health care vertical market, with a long term relationship with GlobeStar. As an event sponsor, PiiComm has an exhibit demonstrating many of the products they support. Sean highlighted the Motorola CA 50 wireless VoIP phone with built-in barcode scanner. Built orignally for Home Depot, the phone has found some interest in health care. The phone has push to talk (PTT), a 1D barcode scanner in a small size (4.37″x 1.81″ x 1″ and about 4 ounces). The CA 50 is rather like a large Vocera pendant, there is no phone keypad. The phones are configured based on user profiles and voice input and text based menus on the phone to place calls. He also talked about the new Motorola EWP 1000/2000 wireless VoIP smart phones. The Moto phones were prominent in the Vocera/Motorola announcement at HIMSS, and is only one of two wireless phones that meet all the basic hospital requirements — ruggedized, water resistant and impervious to hospital disinfectants. (The other phone is the also new Ascom DECT IP phone, the d62.)
Shawn described asset management, preventive maintenance, temperature monitoring, patient and staff safety and workflow and resource management as key applications supported by AeroScout. PiiCommis also an Ascom reseller. Shawn noted that going wireless, including wireless VoIP is hard; part of his company’s mission is to help with that transition. He positioned Ascom as a DECT wireless phone solution that doesn’t require Wi-Fi.
Patient Monitor Integration
After the break Stephen Rocha with St Vincent Heart Center of Indiana presented Patient Monitoring Integration. Stephen described the corporate culture and noted that Siemens/Draeger are the predominate medical device vendors (Hospira too). They also have Dukane for nurse call, Hill-Rom beds and Siemens (the Chantry Networks acqusition?), Meru and InnerWireless provide wireless networking. ConnexALL is used as messaging middleware.Read More
I’m at GlobeStar System’s annual user group meeting this week, in Lisbon, Portugal. Attendance is about 150, equivalent to last year’s meeting.
The messaging middleware market is transitioning from middleware to an enterprise application. GlobeStar has been in the business just over 10 years. Unlike Emergin, who started in paging messaging, GlobeStar got their start in the 1990s integrating Austco nurse call and Nortel’s Companion (the first wireless phone system in North America). Over the years, the company (and the market) have evolved from a single nurse call/phone integration to a platform supporting many different systems and devices both on the input and output sides — and incorporating workflow automation through rules, alert initiation, and escalation.
The conference kicked off with introductory presentations from David Tavares, CEO of GlobeStar; Dr Teresa Sustelo, President of Centro Hospitalar de Lisboa Central (a large multi hospital system); and Dr Miguel Correia, Regional Secretary of Health, Azores. During his opening remarks, Miguel Correia noted the broad applicability of improved messaging. He spoke to the extension of messaging systems to tracking and eventually orchestrating complext processes and tasks. This is a vital requirement in health care delivery.
GlobeStar’s technology has been applied outside health care too. They monitor automobile painting production lines and “man down” systems in mining. Miguel Correia mentioned that they’re using ConnexAll in CO2 monitoring at volcanos in the Azorres. Now they’re moving further into workflow automation.
My keynote presentation theme was, “everything is connected” and contrasted this with provider’s tendency to only focus on the immediate problem — or what they think is the problem.
Putting the health care IT market aside, the point of care market is divided into 6 separate market segments: wireless phones, patient flow applications, medical device connectivity, messaging middleware, nurse call, and real time location systems (RTLS), not to be confused with indoor positioning system infrastructure vendors like Sonitor and CenTrak. For some time, buyer’s haven’t been able to buy a product from one of these segments without impacting one or more of the others. Connections to medical devices, and the nurse-to-patient assignment process are common points of contention.Read More
On Oct. 13, 2008 Hospira announced that it had acquired the EndoTool business from MD Scientific. (Press release) The EndoTool glucose management system is software used to determine optimal insulin dosages to help establish and maintain glycemic control. Target markets for the product include critical care and surgery, as well as lower acuity areas on hospitals. Hospitals are also considering use EndoTool in Labor and Delivery. The product was launched 18 months ago by MD Scientific, and seen increadible adoption (60 hospitals currently). The product won’t be “relaunched” under the Hospira brand. You can read the publicly available FDA 510k stuff here.
Software designed to support the application of clinical protocols has been in the works from various vendors. Patient monitoring examples include Philips Protocol Watch, soft-launched back in February 2007, and . These applications automate what are otherwise onerous manual calculations with data acquired from medical devices and integrated with data from other information systems. This is workflow automation of the most important kind, diagnosis and therapy delivery. These applications are typically regulated as Class II medical devices.
Last week I spoke with Philip Settimi, MD, vice president of global strategic marketing for Hospira. According to Settimi, “EndoTool replaces spreadsheets of physician preferences and worksheets full of manual calculations for managing patient glucose levels.” Such manual methods are obviously inefficient, but also susceptible to human error. This approach provides an effective tool to impose a controlled and centralized tool for managing tight glycemic control (TGC). Endo Tool comes with a specific protocol based on sophisticated algorithms to support glucose management. The key: taking all that complexity (the calcs) at the point of care and automating those 33 different non-linear equations.Read More
A unit of GE Healthcare’s global Diagnostic Imaging Services business acquired Agility Healthcare Solutions today for an undisclosed sum. This is the same group that did the deal with Anywhere several years ago, and most recently signed a distribution deal with CenTrak, which was announced at HIMSS 2008 (press release).
What started as a straight on asset management strategy has grown in scope.
“Any hospital administrator knows about the daily headaches caused by the logistical coordination of providing patient care. For each and every patient interaction, patient, clinician, staff, space, assets & supplies must come together at the same time. Agility’s visualization system is the one tool we’ve found that lets us visualize these interactions to predict and prevent bottlenecks before they occur,” said Jeffrey Burke, Vice President and Regional Chief Information Officer, Bon Secours Health System.
The RTLS (real time location system) market’s initial focus was asset management. The industry consensus at the time was that asset management was easy to understand and had an attractive ROI – most hospitals lease some of their equipment that ends up poorly utilized due to hoarding and misplacing equipment. An RTLS can significantly reduce the amount of equipment leased through increased visibility and thus, utilization. Sadly, the hospital market was not sufficiently compelled to adopt this application (regardless of the ROI) at the rate that entrepreneurs and venture capitalists expected.
The founders at Agility, being software guys from McKesson, started with software. After some initial experience in the market they decided to stick with software and resell whatever infrastructure best suited their customer’s application. And the applications the market pulled them to are the kinds of things Bon Secours is doing.Read More