Today Hospira announced they have acquired Sculptor Developmental Technologies (press release). A subsidiary of St. Clair Health Corporation, Sculptor was a software engineering company formed by St. Clair Hospital in 1993 to create solutions that St. Clair couldn't buy from vendors. Sculptor's solutions include a barcode meds administration system, an enterprise report print management application, advanced printing for Eclipsys, fax distribution software and similar tools. Sculptor has an installed base of more than 125 hospitals in North America. The deal includes St. Clair Hospital serving as a development and test site for Hospira medication management products.

Obligatory chest thumping:

"This acquisition brings together two leaders in healthcare IT -- Hospira has led the industry in barcoding medications and infusion technology; and St. Clair, through Sculptor, was the first hospital in the country to combine barcoding and RFID in a single mobile device for the real-time workflow needs of clinical staff," said Richard Schaeffer, vice president and chief information officer, St. Clair Hospital.

Note the emphasis on workflow. Given the greater experience of Sculptor, this may end up being a better acquisition for Hospira than CareFusion was for Cardinal.

At HIMSS, Hospira indicated that their major product focus for 2008 is their integration strategy. Up to this point, Hospira has depended on third parties to provide much of the software for their pump connectivity. Early on Hospira worked closely with Bridge Medical and Cerner in developing their smart pump and meds administration capabilities. They have done similar integration with McKesson and Siemens. But according to Jeff Pelletier, vice president of global medical devices at Hospira, "The market expectation has evolved from just a great medical device to one with connectivity." This expectation of course extends beyond the infusion pump market.

Hospira has segmented their server software into 3 levels:

  1. Basic smart pump formulary and error detection (the core package),
  2. The basics plus wireless network connectivity and integration with third party barcode meds admin, CPOE and EMAR applications (the extended package), and finally
  3. Leveraging the previous integration to pre-populate the pump with infusion programming and feed pump data back to the system for validation, monitoring and alerts (the enterprise package).

Hospira has also developed their own component 802.11a/b/g radio. The radio supports key enterprise IT features like 802.1x authentication and 802.11i security. After Hospira determined what it would cost to have separate pump SKUs for devices with and without the radio they determined it was more cost effective to ship every pump with the radio.

Hospira's early work with Bridge Medical and Cerner earned it a place among those with the most advanced applications. The move today to acquire Sculptor appears to reinforce Hospira's market position by providing an all-Hospira platform that extends beyond the smart pump system itself.