Last week some of the key minds behind HarmizeIT
patient flow software, Vince Albanese, Glen Simpson, and Rick Husk
spent some time to introduce me to the HarmonizeIT patient flow
software solution. HarmonizeIT has been in development since the mid
1990s, and has a growing install base. Current customers include The Methodist Hospital System (Houston), HCA hospitals in Louisiana and Florida, and Marymount Hospital.

While some patient flow software vendors seem to consider bed
management their core function, to HarmonizeIT bed management is a
platform for delivering greater value-add capabilities. Their goal is
to relieve hospital operations information overload and provide a tool
set to optimize patient flow and care delivery across the hospital. We
focused on three of the software components in their system: a rules
engine, statistics engine, and "sentries". Software sentries monitor
HL7 transaction streams, IVR systems, the text output of applications,
the Internet, different types of computer  files -- virtually any
kind of computer-based data. These sentries watch their areas of focus
24x7 looking for events, thresholds, and probabilities and pass these
data to other modules to be analyzed and acted upon. As I mentioned in
a previous post,
HarmonizeIT has three modules; HarmonyControl, HarmonySpeed, and
HarmonyGoals. HarmonizeIT is client server based. The thick clients
include integrated "zero management" distribution and management. They
have also integrated with Vocera for communications and support those
sexy plasma displays you see at the trade shows. Here's what I learned
about these modules during our call.

HarmonyControl does bed management like TeleTracking, and other bed
tracking applications. Control supports different bed management
strategies; centralized bed control, single mobile bed control, and
distributed unit managed bed control. A PDA (MS PocketPC) client is
available for roving bed coordinators and house supervisors. The PDA
client provides the same ADT data of desk top client, and also supports
physicians for rounding and patient discharge. Alerts are automatically
generated and sent via email, phone, pager, and/or PDA. The system uses
Crystal Reports for reporting and management dashboard. Data capture to
track patient flow comes from anything a software sentry can observe
like ADT transactions, IVR input and applications like RFID servers.

HarmonySpeed is the module prioritizes disparate activities in a
coordinated fashion. A statistics engine analyses ADT data and
transaction history, then predicts discharge dates. Predictions are
based on data generated by the hospital's own operations, tracking DRG,
length of stay and other user specified data. These data are used to
create ordered worklists for case managers, social workers, ancillary
departments, medical staff and others to ensure discharges stay on
track. Statistics analysis is configurable so the hospital can
determine the metrics to track and analyze. The system also combines
discharge orders with historical data to re-sequence tasks to optimize
efficiency. Of course there's also lots of reporting and data like
histogram displays of LOS by DRG by physician.

HarmonyGoals provides a tool to ensure accountability across the
patient flow continuum. This module provides tools for a hospital's
performance improvement person. Operational goals are captured and
tracked by the system, generating reports demonstrating performance.
Just as important (and maybe more so) the system provides intervention
by generating alerts, with escalation, to minimize outliers.

The company behind HarmonizeIT, VB Studios, takes a different approach
to the market. They do not want to pursue a traditional software sales
model; an expensive direct sales force, long sales cycles, and big
marketing budgets create demands for capital and add much to the cost
of products. To that end, they are looking for an easy entry point to
hospitals with patient flow needs and are interested in working with
clients in gain sharing arrangements. VB Studio's arrangement with USC Consulting Group
is an example of creative non-traditional distribution. Product
development costs have been minimized by outsourcing to India. As a
result of these tactics, VB Studios is able to offer an unusually low
entry cost for HarmonizeIT.

Given the relatively nascent nature of the patient flow software
market, HarmonizeIT should be considered a player with some unique
capabilities. As the market develops, it will be interesting to watch
VB Studios execute their non-traditional strategies and see the