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The “Internet of Things” isn’t coming. It’s already here and spreading at a pandemic pace that’s shaking the foundations of nearly every industry.

That, in turn, is creating huge opportunities for local entrepreneurs and investors, and for students at the University of New Mexico, where the School of Engineering is now launching a new IoT master’s-level specialization backed by a novel, high-tech research and development lab.

Graduates will find good-paying jobs waiting for them in companies such as Vizzia Technologies, a Santa Fe-based startup that’s harnessing cutting-edge IoT technology to modernize the way hospitals and clinics track and monitor everything they do.bizo-robinsonavila_kevin_bizo-400x159

Vizzia is now partnering with UNM to build the new R&D lab in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, providing internships and potentially future jobs, said Vizzia founder, President and CEO Andrew L. Halasz.

“The Internet of Things is probably the highest-growing area in the world today in terms of technology and opportunities,” Halasz said. “By 2020, it’s expected that over 20 billion devices will be connected to the internet, communicating critical data on how things are performing and how they can perform better in practically everything, including humans.”

But, to harness that potential, companies like Vizzia need an educated workforce that can design, test, install and manage the sensors, networks and data that make IoT possible, said Greg Heileman, UNM associate provost, and professor of electrical and computer engineering.

“The job opportunities in this area will be massive,” Heileman said. “Graduates will be able to work almost anywhere, because engineers who fundamentally understand how this technology works will be in incredibly high demand.”

In essence, the Internet of Things refers to smart devices, or sensors, that track and monitor virtually everything in real time with instant data transfer through the internet for storage and analysis on cloud-based systems. That can enable instantaneous and often automated responses, whether it’s turning things on and off, opening and closing something, or alerting people or other machines about what’s going on and how to respond.

Andrew Halasz, President and CEO of Vizzia Technologies. (Greg Sorber / Albuquerque Journal)

Andrew Halasz, President and CEO of Vizzia Technologies. (Greg Sorber / Albuquerque Journal)

Those systems are rapidly being deployed in everything from cars, planes and factories to health care and consumer devices. It’s the basis for emerging smart homes that automatically control temperature or appliances, smart grids that instantly manage shifts in electric generation and distribution, and future self-driving cars.

“It’s an evolution,” Heileman said. “We already have billions of devices connected to the internet backbone worldwide, but it will grow by orders of magnitude with toasters, refrigerators and cars connected up and feeding information to the internet to perform analytics and make decisions. It will eventually route driverless cars around traffic jams or allow a connected home to notify you if you left the lights on.”

Companies like Vizzia are showing how such technologies can be deployed to modernize things like the health care industry, said UNM School of Engineering dean Joe Cecchi.

“It’s a great new frontier that can impact society in profound ways,” Cecchi said. “Vizzia is an excellent example of how it can impact health care, with sensors and multiple networks that track capital assets and human resources in hospitals to do things more efficiently and comply with policies and procedures.”

The company, which launched in 2005 in North Carolina, moved to New Mexico in 2014.

Halasz, a mechanical engineer who graduated from UNM, saw an opportunity to help hospitals and clinics cut waste and inefficiency in managing equipment, supervising and scheduling personnel, tracking patient care, and monitoring the refrigeration of medicines, blood and human tissues.

CenTrak real time location system (RTLS) is used by Vizzia Technologies to track equipment used in hospitals. (Courtesy of Vizzia TechnologiesThe company deploys sensors equipped with real-time location systems, radio frequency identification and Wi-Fi to track and monitor everything. It manages the networks, data storage and analytics to provide real-time alerts and information to hospitals as needed. And it offers management modernization plans based on its data analysis for hospitals to improve operations.

Vizzia has systems deployed in nearly two dozen hospitals and clinics nationwide. The company, which employs 20, is backed by the New Mexico Angels.

Vizzia won a $36,000 grant last year from the Venture Acceleration Fund, a Los Alamos National Laboratory-backed program administered by the Regional Development Corp. The company used the funds to help establish its new partnership with UNM, begin building the planned IoT lab and hire the first six student interns for research projects.

Apart from mutually benefitting Vizzia and UNM students, the IoT lab and master’s specialization could attract more high-tech companies to New Mexico while providing support to local startups applying Internet of Things technology in different industries, said Michael Devetsikiotis, chair of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department.

“We’re working now to establish partnerships with more companies,” Devetsikiotis said. “This can help spur economic activity. It has tremendous economic impact potential.”

Connecting students to the ‘Internet of Things’

The solution, provided by Vizzia Technology, includes CenTrak’s real-time location system to track equipment, as well as L-Com’s Point Six Wi-Fi sensors to wirelessly measure and report refrigerator and freezer temperatures, in order to reduce spoilage.
By Claire Swedberg – RFID Journal

Oct 05, 2016— Piedmont Healthcare, one of Georgia’s largest health-care systems, is expanding its use of a real-time location system (RTLS) that it first installed at its Atlanta hospital five years ago, to track the locations of its assets in real time. The company has since deployed the solution at Piedmont Henry Hospital, in Stockbridge, Piedmont Fayette Hospital, in Fayetteville, Piedmont Mountainside Hospital, in Jasper, and Piedmont Newnan Hospital, in Newnan. Next year, the firm plans to take the RTLS live at Piedmont Newton Hospital, in Covington.

This year, Piedmont Healthcare began using the RTLS for its specialty bed rental operation, newly launched to share its beds among its hospitals, thereby saving it the rental fees it previously paid to outside companies. The solution consists of CenTrak tags and access points (devices used to receive the tags’ RF transmissions), as well as Vizzia Technologies‘ software platform, residing on the hospital’s server.

Piedmont’s Steven Kelley

Piedmont is also using wireless sensors to monitor the temperatures of refrigerators and freezers. For temperature management, Vizzia provides L-Com‘s Point Six sensors, with the sensor data managed on Vizzia’s software platform.

Piedmont Atlanta is the largest and most complex of the six hospitals that the company currently owns. The facility had processes in place to manage equipment used by nurses, says Steven Kelley, Piedmont’s manager of diagnostic imaging repair and biomedical engineering, but still found that the items were not always available when the biomed department or nurses needed them. Each of approximately 25 nurse stations has clean and dirty rooms in which movable medical equipment (MMEs), such as pumps and respiratory equipment, should be stored. In the dirty room, the items awaited cleaning, while in the clean room they were ready for patient use. Because equipment could not always be located, the company sought a solution from Vizzia, which provided an EPC Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID system in 2006.

With the UHF RFID deployment, Vizzia affixed passive EPC Gen 2 tags above doorways, as well as to equipment. The unique ID number encoded to each tag was linked to the corresponding item’s serial number and description, while the tag above each door was linked to that room or location. Workers then used Zebra Technologies MC90xx series handheld readers to access data regarding equipment, as well as to read tags and update location information. For instance, employees read the tag above the doorway to a particular room, such as the cleaning area, then the tag of each piece of equipment being put into that room.

On a daily basis, says Andrew Halasz, Vizzia’s president and CEO, Piedmont or Vizzia team members would make MME deliveries and pickups. When doing so, they would take their handheld readers with them to continuously update the inventory data.

In 2011, the hospital transitioned to an RTLS solution that replaced the UHF RFID system. “The reason behind that was to further refine asset-management processes and track more active items, like wheelchairs and gurneys,” Halasz states, “while also enabling future process improvement initiatives, like staff workflow enhancement.”

Although the RFID system was helping the hospital to monitor MMEs as they moved through the cleaning process and as they awaited reuse, Kelley says, the solution could not track anything outside of those designated and tagged areas. “The passive RFIDsystem showed the last known location” of a piece of equipment, he explains, but the hospital wanted greater visibility.

So in 2011, Vizzia installed a CenTrak RTLS solution throughout Piedmont Atlanta Hospital. CenTrak tags were attached to wheelchairs, gurneys, beds and MMEs. Each tag receives the ID numbers transmitted by infrared (IR) beacons within its range, then forwards that information, along with its own identifier, to a CenTrak access point, via a 900 MHz RF signal.

Vizzia’s Andrew Halasz

Subsequently, Piedmont began installing the RTLS technology at its other hospitals. At each facility, 80 to 130 dedicated CenTrak access points are installed. Every patient room and procedure room has a battery-powered CenTrak Gen2IR infrared beacon, and all movable medical equipment is tagged with CenTrak Multi-Mode Asset Tags. The Vizzia software utilizes the RTLS data to display location information, and to enable the hospital to collect historical data in order to better understand trends, such as what equipment is not being used, or where bottlenecks occur.

“I can see when and where items aren’t going back into the soiled room,” Kelley says. “I can see if there are five pumps in one room.” The software also detects if a protocol is not being followed. For example, if a piece of equipment is used on a patient, then is moved to another patient’s room without first undergoing the proper cleaning procedure, the system will display that event.

In addition, Kelley says, in the event that a device is recalled, not only can he use the system to identify where that item is located in real time (so that it can be retrieved), but he can also view historical data regarding where the device has been, such as in which patient rooms. That information can then be compared against the medical record system, thus indicating which patient may have been in contact with that device.

Now that the system is being installed at all of Piedmont’s facilities, Kelley says, hospital management can remotely view the inventory of its assets at all of the hospitals, and can identify if something needs to be moved, such as a particular specialty bed that has been transported to one hospital but needs to be returned to another. Piedmont is now renting its beds out to its own hospitals, enabling them to avoid paying excessive rental fees to third-party companies. Kelley expects Piedmont’s bed-rental service will save the company money. The technology reduces the amount of labor time that personnel need to spend walking the floors searching for missing items and also decreases the need to purchase extra items if a particular specialty bed cannot be located.

During the past year, Vizzia also installed Point Six wireless Wi-Fi temperature sensors from L-Com in the Atlanta hospital’s coolers for storing medications and vaccines. The shortcomings of tracking temperatures manually, Kelley notes, included not only the cost of labor required to perform these manual checks, but also the acquisition of incomplete data. Typically, busy refrigerators are opened and closed multiple times throughout a given day, and some coolers may struggle to resume their optimum temperature once the doors have been opened. For that reason, employees often collect temperature information during quiet times, such as late at night. However, those late-night data collections do not always provide a clear picture of what temperature levels have been throughout an entire day, and that lack of information can be hazardous to vaccines and other temperature-sensitive products.

With the RFID system, using Point Six sensors and Vizzia software to manage sensor data, the hospital automatically knows of any temperature fluctuations that might occur throughout the day at each cooler. The temperature data is transmitted at five-minute intervals, and is compared against the minimum and maximum ranges stipulated in Vizzia’s software. In the event that the temperature rises or drops out of range, an alert is automatically triggered and an email or text message is sent directly to the hospital.

CenTrak’s Multi-Mode Asset Tag

In addition, Vizzia is providing what it call its Environmental Monitoring (EM) Help Desk system, to help the hospital manage the data culled from the temperature sensors. The EM Help Desk also receives these alerts, then contacts that department’s managers to troubleshoot the issue. If the unit has failed, or if the problem cannot be resolved, the contents can then be relocated to protect them from spoilage. The EM Help Desk records the root cause and corrective action, confirming that the contents are safe.

“This is what regulators want to see,” Halasz states, “and is often difficult for busy clinical staff to keep up with.” What’s more, he says, the EM Help Desk ensures that hospital managers receive only alerts requiring a response, so that they are not inundated with messages for which they do not need to take action. “This helps eliminate alert fatigue and, more importantly, makes sure things like medicines, food and blood are safe for patients and staff to use.”

The temperature sensors will also be installed in Piedmont’s other hospitals through a measured approach. “We’re rolling things out in a contained way,” Halasz says, “to be able to measure the before and after in a department-by-departmental way.”

In the future, Kelley says, Piedmont intends to trial a hand-hygiene system to ensure that care providers wash their hands before and after meeting with every patient. Down the line, he adds, the facility might also opt to test the RTLS‘s ability to track patients and staff members.

Piedmont Healthcare Expands VIZZIA RTLS to Six Hospitals

By Dennis Carroll
For The Santa Fe New Mexican | Posted: Monday, September 12, 2016 7:00 pm

“The simple problem is to try to make health care more efficient,” said Halasz, founder of the Santa Fe business. “What we focus on is trying to make the patient experience better, which also enables us to make the clinicians’ time more valuable and more involved directly with patients.”

Halasz, a mechanical engineering graduate of The University of New Mexico, said his company’s sensor-based tracking systems are designed to help hospitals cut costs and streamline complicated processes, among them asset management and equipment distribution, and monitoring such time- and temperature-sensitive items as stored human tissues, blood and many medications. Vizzia — a spin on “visibility” — also installs sensors that monitor work and patient flow in emergency rooms, and even on soap dispensers to track whether nurses and other clinicians are cleaning their hands before and after entering patient rooms.

In essence, according to vizziatech.com, “Sensor systems are used to track movements and interactions between doctors, nurses, patients and their equipment.”

Halasz and Vizzia’s approximately 20 employees have installed systems in hospital and medical centers across the country, including Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, the Piedmont Atlanta Hospital and Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, Calif.

Halasz, 57, who has family in New Mexico, moved his business headquarters to Santa Fe two years ago after operating out of Atlanta for nine years.

With Halasz’s system, doctors, nurses and most other hospital workers as well as patients and equipment are tagged with sensors that track where everybody and everything is located at any particular time. That information is fed into a central hub that keeps track of all the information.

All that, Halasz said, in an effort to “bringing visibility to the administration of the health care delivery process.” He said the health care system has been good in making investments in the latest diagnostics — “MRIs and things to figure what’s wrong with people. Where they have really not done a good job and where they are far, far behind all other industries is the investment in operations and operational effectiveness.”

That, he said, is rooted in “what is everybody doing every day and how do they communicate and how do they get information. … We create what is like a GPS indoors.”

Halasz said the lack of organization and information helps lead to seemingly endless hours of “sitting and waiting” by patients. “If you go to the emergency room and you check in and then you sit and you wait, and then you see a triage nurse, and then after that you sit and you wait. They assign a room for you and you sit and you wait, and then the nurse comes and takes vitals, and then you sit and you wait. And then a doc goes comes in and you go for a test, and you sit and you wait. … And the same thing happens in the surgical services.”

He said Vizzia’s system allows hospital staff to know every step of the health care delivery system and all the interactions patients have — and in which rooms and with what pieces of equipment.

The ultimate objective is to determine how a medical center’s health care delivery it can be made better with “real facts and real data over long periods of time.”

The issue, he said, also involves staffing and the right type of staffing, so less serious cases get attention along with the severe cases.

Halasz said the objective is not to change the logic of treating the most serious cases first, but “what we want to do is ensure that the right kind of resources and the right number of resources are there to deal with the most typical scenarios that happen every day.”

Regarding the tracking of medical equipment, he said Vizzia’s work with medical centers around the United States has revealed that hospitals usually have between $2 million and $4 million worth of movable medical equipment that must be shared by staff. And that nurses or other clinicians, when they need something to treat a patient, often have to go hunting for it because there is no adequate, “visible” system that keeps track of everything.

And because they can’t trust that they will get what they need when they need it because of an often “free-for-all” equipment monitoring process, “they start hiding and hoarding the key equipment. This is just human nature. It’s the same as in an office with pencils and paper clips and stuff. Once you run out, you make sure you have a little stash so you don’t run out.”

Only in hospitals, it’s not a $5 cache of pens and sticky notes hidden in a secret space in a desk, but often life-saving or diagnostic equipment worth thousands of dollars that might be hidden in a closet somewhere.

As odd as it might sound, Halasz contends hospital administrators often have a difficult time determining just how many working intravenous infusion pumps, say, they actually have.

He said hospital officials have told him that because of the hoarding and hiding, supply workers believe they need to buy more equipment. “Or even worse, there is a cottage industry that has grown up near every hospital [of] rental companies that rent these pieces of equipment to a hospital.”

Thus medical centers end up overbuying or renting equipment they wouldn’t need if they knew where their own equipment was hidden.

Halasz added that using the Vizzia tracking system, hospital workers can see on a GPS-like map “how many pieces are in which room” and the maintenance history of each machine.

“Our mission is to improve the patient experience and allow caregivers to spend more quality time with patients so they move them through the health care process in the most effective way,” he said.

He said that on average, a half hour each day is spent searching for equipment. “We give them back that half hour a day so they can focus on patient care.”

Halasz said that Vizzia, which has an office at the Santa Fe Business Incubator, is in discussions with officials at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center and Presbyterian Healthcare Services about installing such systems in their facilities.

Contact Dennis Carroll with the Santa Fe New Mexican, at carroll.news1@gmail.com.

Address: 3900 Paseo Del Sol

Phone: 855.Vizzia1(849-9421)

On the Web: www.vizziatech.com

Santa Fe’s Vizzia Technologies helps hospitals improve efficiency, care

Andrew Halasz was chosen as the Keynote speaker for this year’s Georgia Biomedical Instrumentation Society’s annual conference. Andy’s wide and varied business experience and success in a variety of industries is what attracted the organization to Andy. The conference dates are August 5-6, 2016. For more information, click here to download the conference schedule. (link to PDF file attached.)

More about Andrew Halasz:

Andrew Halasz co-founded VIZZIA in 2005. He is a dynamic business leader who has been driving results for more than 30 years in a variety of functional and business leadership roles. He grew his business acumen at GE, where he held numerous leadership positions including vice president of sales and marketing. He then helped grow Recall Corporation, a global document management business, from $185 million to more than $600 million while serving in various roles, including division vice president and general manager, global chief information officer and senior vice president of global operations. Andy holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of New Mexico and completed the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School.

VIZZIA President & CEO is Keynote Speaker at 2016 GBIS Conference in Atlanta, GA

UNM and VIZZIA recruiting businesses to grow a high technology ecosystem in the state.

VIZZIA Technologies, a leading provider of technology solutions for healthcare organizations, has partnered with the University of New Mexico’s (UNM) School of Engineering to launch the Internet of Things Laboratory (The Lab) and the beginning of a unique Internet of Things (IoT) curriculum.

The Lab prepares students for high-tech job opportunities through real-world and handson education by testing various types of sensor systems and their performance in various applications.
The term Internet of Things (IoT) describes the rapidly-expanding network of machines and appliances, medical and environmental monitors, vehicles, and even homes that use network connectivity to collect and exchange information.

VIZZIA sources best-in-class systems for the healthcare industry where sensor systems are used to track movements and interactions between doctors, nurses, patients and their equipment. For the Lab, VIZZIA provides testing protocols which allow students to compare sensor systems. This not only provides the students with exposure to world-class systems, but is also serving as a research and development resource for VIZZIA, and soon other companies that need to evaluate the latest sensors.

“New sensor systems are being developed at a fast pace all around the world,” explains Andrew L. Halasz, president and CEO of VIZZIA Technologies. “Having an active testing program ensures we will know the best systems to deploy for our clients while also providing a tremendous learning environment for students.”

The core of the new connected world are sensors that measure temperatures, pressures, locations, movements and a variety of other important performance data needed to automate processes and/or make better decisions.

“It is estimated that there will be 20 billion sensors in operation by 2020.” said Halasz. “By creating a pipeline of well-educated IoT graduates, along with active real-world involvement from companies like Vizzia, and the additional support and incentives from local and state governments, we believe we can attract other high-tech companies to New Mexico and spawn new entrepreneurs in one of the highest-growth technology sectors for many years to come.”

The IoT project began in 2015 when VIZZIA received funding from the Venture Acceleration Fund (VAF), an award administered by the Española-based Regional Development Corporation (RDC) in the most competitive cycle to date. VIZZIA was one of 61 applications received and one of only four companies that were awarded a grant. The VAF was granted to VIZZIA to develop the concept of the IoT Laboratory.  VIZZIA saw a natural partnership with UNM’s School of Engineering.

“When Andrew approached us, I immediately envisioned the vast array of opportunities that could be created, as well as the economic benefits and outcomes we’d be able to produce for our state,” said Chaouki T. Abdallah, UNM Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs.

“The early success of the program has enabled UNM and VIZZIA to set its sights on incorporating existing software development, network architecture and Internet security coursework while also investigating new ideas and curriculum in big data management to create an overall IoT program at UNM,” said Joseph L. Cecchi, dean of the UNM School of Engineering.  “It has given our students valuable, real-world training and experience.”

Gregory Heileman, UNM associate provost for curriculum and key sponsor of the program, said that since the initial collaboration with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering over the past year, students have tested sensor systems brought in by VIZZIA that use various types of radio-frequency identification (RFID) technologies, ultrasound, Zigbee, Bluetooth low-energy (BLE), infrared light, and hybrid technologies.

“Students then use VIZZIA’s testing protocols to evaluate these various technologies.,” said Heileman, also a professor in the department. “The IoT program works when businesses like VIZZIA provide our students with real-world experience. It makes them better prepared to enter the workforce. This is what will prepare UNM graduates to be hired and to be immediate contributors for high-tech companies considering New Mexico for their new home.”

For companies interested in joining this new ecosystem and staying on the cutting edge of the latest IoT technologies, while also helping students graduate with more skills, they can participate in a variety of ways in this new phase of expansion that opens the door for more corporate partners.

“The Internet of Things is really the next phase of the digital age and we’re excited to be cocreating the ecosystem and helping the New Mexico economy in a positive way,” said Halasz. “Businesses interested in learning more about participating can contact us directly at unm-iot@vizziatech.com.

About VIZZIA Technologies

VIZZIA Technologies is a leading provider of process improvement solutions for healthcare organizations. Their solutions include the deployment and maintenance of RTLS, RFID and other sophisticated sensor systems that deliver activity data needed to help VIZZIA cut costs and streamline complicated processes for its clients. VIZZIA solutions include Asset Management, Temperature Monitoring, Automated Hand-Hygiene Compliance, Clinical

Workflow Improvement, and Patient Throughput Optimization. VIZZIA’s robust VIZZION™ Software Suite, data analytics skills and change management expertise, combine to deliver cost savings, better patient outcomes, improved safety and automated regulatory compliance for their clients. For more information about VIZZIA, visit www.vizziatech.com.

About UNM School of Engineering

The University of New Mexico School of Engineering was founded in 1906, and during the last century has grown to six academic departments, more than a dozen graduate degree programs, and six centers of research. Our award-winning and research-active faculty and students collaborate frequently in cutting-edge areas, working with national laboratories, industry, and other universities to develop innovative solutions to societal challenges. For more information, visit www.engineering.unm.edu

About the Venture Acceleration Fund (VAF)

The VAF is a collaborative investment established by Los Alamos National Security, LLC

(LANS) in 2006. This year LANS, along with Los Alamos County, New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), the City of Santa Fe and Century Bank are investing in the economic health of New Mexico via their support of growth-oriented companies. The fund is administered by the Regional Development Corporation of Espanola, New Mexico www.rdcnm.org.

About the Regional Development Corporation (RDC)

The Regional Development Corporation is a non-profit economic development organization based in Espanola, New Mexico with a mission of creating jobs and attracting additional revenue to the northern New Mexico region. Visit www.rdcnm.org.

 

Vizzia “Internet of Things” Lab Connects Business, Education, and Technology in NM

Broaden your focus to improve ROI, compliance and safety

Real Time Location Systems (RTLS) and Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) technologies have become synonymous with tracking hard assets such as infusion pumps and beds in hospital and healthcare facilities.

Today however it is important for healthcare executives and hospital administrators to start thinking more broadly about asset tracking technologies and applying them to safety devices and measures-as this will open the door to improving hospital readiness and automating compliance.

To date, one of the primary reasons for implementing asset tracking technologies in hospitals has been to reduce costs and improve operational efficiencies. The results have been significant:

  • A 400 bed for profit hospital in South Florida was renting 630 oxygen tanks a month from a leading gas supplier. The process for managing tanks was not controlled and empty tanks could be found in key locations across the facility. After installation of an RTLS solution, tanks rented decreased by 50 percent, hard costs were reduced by 70 percent and labor to manage tanks reduced by 80 percent. More importantly, equipment was kept at par value at all times and the level of readiness was increased
  • Tracking IV pumps at DeKalb Medical Center in Decatur, GA enabled VIZZIA Technologies to right-size the purchase of a new fleet reducing the capital purchase by over $535k while also reducing equipment rental costs by over $217k per year
  • At Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, CA deployment of RLTS was able to reduce rental expenses and annual equipment replacement costs by over $150k per year from loss and theft alone

Asset Tracking and Emergency Preparedness
Expanding the focus of tracking critical assets from high-value movable medical equipment to other important life safety equipment such as fire extinguishers can also help with emergency preparedness.

When disaster strikes knowing where safety equipment is located and its level of operational readiness is vital. This includes knowing if O2 tanks are full, to the location of evacuation chairs and fire extinguishers-which can be the first line of defense and also the last resort in a fire.

In fact the State of Florida’s Hospital Surge Plan, which is designed to assist hospitals in assessing, updating or developing plans for response to a significant surge incident, identifiesinventory and tracking of bed availability, staff on site and equipment as being major componentsof a surge and emergency operations plan (EOP).1

Medical and safety devices such as employee distress medallions, medical oxygen tanks, fire extinguishers, automated external defibrillators (AEDs), IV pumps and many others are being integrated into the RTLS infrastructure providing not only significant ROI through improved process and reduced inventory, but substantially lowered risk and improved life safety.

Broader Applications for Asset Tracking-Safety and Compliance
Asset tracking infrastructure can include multiple technologies and systems.  Wireless technologies approved by UL or other listing organizations integrated into leading asset tracking software can give hospital’s an unprecedented level of transparency into safety status on the same software used to track pumps and beds.Attaching sensors to critical safety assets can provide early warning of equipment use and 24×7 on readiness status as well as allow signals to be sent to the right team member at the right time.The Joint Commission, an independent, not-for-profit organization, that accredits and certifies more than 20,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States, has identified the most challenging hospital accreditation standards in the first half of 2013.Among the five standards that were most frequently deemed not compliant for hospitals in the first half of this year was ‘Building and fire protection features are designed and maintained to minimize the effects of fire, smoke and heat (LS.02.01.10).’ Noncompliance rates thus far in 2013 are 45 percent (46 percent in 2012).2Monitoring fire extinguishers for example can eliminate 90 percent of all required inspections as well as speed up response time in an emergency. Asset tracking technologies can be deployed to monitor scores of safety compliance concerns including AEDs, generators, evacuation equipment and electrical panel obstruction.

Integration of safety into asset tracking systems has the further benefit of increasing cultural adoption of RTLS technologies. After all, safety is the job of all healthcare team members.

Key Asset Tracking Recommendations
Healthcare executives and hospital administrators may find it useful to keep the following points in mind when evaluating RTLS technologies and deploying asset tracking solutions:

  • Healthcare executives should think of RTLS technology more broadly and include safety asset monitoring as part of the program
  • Hospital leaders should use safety as a key component in the roll out of asset tracking systems to insure cultural adoption of these valuable tracking technologies
  • Safety offers not only the opportunity to increase cultural adoption of asset tracking systems, but also can directly address leading code compliance issues (fire safety inspections, O2 tank status, etc.)
  • There is no “one size fits all solution.” Integration of multiple wireless tracking technologies are needed to address the different needs in a hospital and other healthcare facilities
  • Hospitals need listed and approved wireless technologies for mission critical applications such as fire extinguisher monitoring and duress alerts

Brendan McSheffrey, CEO en-Gauge and Andrew Halasz, CEO VIZZIA Technologies 

Original article published in Advanced Healthcare Networks – Executive Insights 

References

1. McSheffrey, B. Florida Hospital Surge Plan. Available at:http://www.doh.state.fl.us/demo/bpr/PDFs/FL_Hospital_Surge_Plan_Checklist.pdf

2. Halasz, A. 5 Most Challenging Joint Commission Hospital Requirements. Available at: http://beckershospitalreview.com/quality/5-most-challenging-joint-commission-hospital-requirements-8-28-13.html

Tracking Critical Assets in Healthcare Facilities

Published in RFID Journal, by Claire Swedberg

When the Florida Cancer Specialists and Research Institute (FCS) combined three of its Tampa clinics into a single facility this year, to provide medical practices, radiation treatment and radiology, it wanted the new, larger, 36,000-square-foot site to maintain the feeling of smaller clinics. That meant each of the more than 400 patients treated daily at the facility should feel confident that he or she would be seen quickly and never be overlooked.

The clinic offers doctor visits, chemotherapy, radiation treatment and other oncology services under a single roof. But administrators wanted to implement a system that would improve efficiency and increase patient comfort, says Julio Lautersztain, an FCS doctor who acted as a liaison between the physicians, the IT department and technology providers, The aim was to ensure that each patient is received and treated within a short span of time, and that he or she never feels overlooked. “We wanted to treat a large number of patients,” he explains, “but get away from a hospital-like setting.”

FCS looked into a variety of technology solutions and met with Vizzia Technologies, a Georgia-based process-improvement company that provides its Vizzion Suite software for managing RFID and real-time location system (RTLS) implementations, as well as RFID and RTLS hardware from numerous vendors. The solution that the firm ultimately selected included Vizzion Suite software and CenTrak‘s hybrid Gen2IR and RFID tags, IR monitors, virtual walls and RFID readers (which CenTrak calls “wireless network devices”). The clinic chose CenTrak’s technology to obtain room-level accuracy throughout its clinic, as well as Vizzia software to determine how long a patient has remained at a particular location, and if (and for how long) he or she was seen by a physician or nurse.

In addition, the software provides medical assistants with visibility into when a specific examination room is free and ready for use by a new patient. Finally, analytics derived from the data that the solution provides helps the clinic to better manage the scheduling and flow of patients, based on historic data.

“Our core competency is process improvement,” says Andrew Halasz, Vizzia Technologies’ president and co-founder. “RTLS is our eyesight,” he says, noting that the software provides the rules and analytics to help users manage data. “Our software and services convert the location and interaction data into process-improvement actions our customers can take to improve their operations.”

With the system in place, a patient, upon arrival, presents a card printed with an ID number, which a staff member enters into the Vizzion Suite software. The software is integrated with the clinic’s electronic health records system, according to Samantha Watkins, the FCS director responsible for managing daily operations at five clinics within a region that includes Tampa and the surrounding Hillsborough County. The software pulls up the card’s ID (linked to that patient’s profile), and a staff member scans the bar-coded serial number printed on the front of the CenTrak tag, linking the tag ID number with that patient’s ID. The tag is handed to the patient, who can then wear it either on a lanyard or clipped to clothing. The tag transmits its unique ID number, via active 900 MHz RFID, to readers installed throughout the facility.

CenTrak Gen2IR monitors were installed on the ceiling within each of the 33 exam rooms, as well as in larger multi-patient rooms—such as a chemotherapy room broken into pods—with virtual walls to identify a specific pod within the room. The Gen2IR monitors, which are approximately the size and shape of a smoke detector, are powered by batteries. Each monitor transmits its ID number via an infrared (IR) signal that fills a room. The tag‘s built-in IR sensor receives the monitor’s ID and transmits that information, along with its own unique identifier, to the nearest RFID reader. The reader forwards that data to the server, via a cabled connection, where Vizzion Suite software determines the room—or the specific spot within that room—in which the tag is located. To provide more granular data, Vizzia also installed CenTrak Virtual Wall monitors, which emit a unique IR signal that covers a limited area, such as around a treatment area or hallway between two examination rooms.

Physicians and nurses also wear the badges, thereby enabling the software to track how long a particular patient awaited treatment before a health-care provider visited his or her examining room. It also enables staff members to find colleagues in real time. For example, if a patient calls for a specific physician via telephone, personnel can view in which room that doctor is located at that moment, thus ensuring that they not disturb multiple patients in an effort to find that physician.

The analytics provided by the solution to date have helped the clinic identify areas in which improvement may be necessary, Watkins reports. By analyzing the collected data, she says, the facility knows which personnel tend to run behind in their schedules, allowing FCS to share detailed data with those staff members in order to better educate them. This helps the clinic determine when patients spend excessive amounts of time waiting to see health-care providers, and also enables more effective scheduling based on the times of day, or the specific days, on which work typically becomes backed up.

The greatest challenge, Watkins says, involved explaining the technology to patients so that they understood why they were being tracked. However, she notes, the patients responded well to the technology once they understood it. “I would say the technology definitely enhances the entire patient flow,” she states. The Florida Cancer Specialists and Research Institute is now evaluating whether the solution would benefit some of its other clinics, of which there are more than 60 throughout the state.

– See more at: http://www.rfidjournal.com/articles/view?10830/2#sthash.s2Na93IG.dpuf

VIZZIA Helps Florida Cancer Specialists’ Clinic Maintain Small Clinic Feel

VIZZIA Technologies Deploys CenTrak’s Clinical-Grade Real-Time Location System™ (RTLS) to transform the patient experience at Florida Cancer Specialists

 The largest privately-held independent oncology/hematology practice in the United States selects VIZZIA’s advanced workflow optimization solution to streamline clinical processes and enhance their outpatient experience.

(Alpharetta, GA – July 1, 2013) – VIZZIA Technologies, a leading provider of process and technology solutions, announced today that its clinical workflow optimization solution was recently installed at Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute’s (FCS) Tampa Cancer Center location. The newly constructed 35,990 square foot flagship facility offers a “one-stop” approach to patient care that includes medical oncology, advanced radiation oncology technology and radiological services for identifying and diagnosing tumors.  The VIZZIA solution, which leverages CenTrak’s Clinical-Grade RTLS™, is designed to transform the outpatient experience and help in optimizing patient flow processes. Shortening patient wait times, ensuring patient safety and satisfaction, as well as increasing the cancer center’s patient treatment capacity are among the benefits of the new solution.

“Cancer treatment can be a daunting challenge for many of our patients. We are proud to have installed the latest technologies to enhance our patients’ experiences at our center. VIZZIA’s advanced workflow solution allows us the visibility and data we need to accelerate the overall treatment process, so our patients can more quickly return to their normal routines,” said Todd Schonherz, Florida Cancer Specialists’ chief operating officer.

VIZZIA integrated its web-based information portal with the CenTrak Clinical-Grade Locating™ infrastructure. Their VIZZION Suite™ software automatically updates the location of patients and staff from CenTrak’s RTLS and incorporates important workflow rules and alerts to ensure that patients move through the treatment process as efficiently as possible. The Clinical-Grade RTLS platform uses battery-operated Gen2IR™ and Virtual Wall™ devices to deliver unmatched room-, bed-, and bay-level accuracy. The advanced technology delivers rapid location update speeds and offers small, full featured tags with extremely long battery life.

About Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute

Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute (FCS) is the largest independent privately-held oncology/hematology practice in the United States. With over 150 physicians, 90 nurse practitioners/physicians assistants and more than 60 clinical sites in our network, we are committed to providing world-class cancer care in community-based settings close to home. Recognized by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) with a national Clinical Trials Participation Award, FCS offers patients access to more clinical trials than any private oncology practice in Florida. Our physicians are consistently ranked nationally as Top Doctors by U.S. News & World ReportTrained at prestigious medical schools and research institutes such as Duke, Stanford, Harvard, Emory, M.D. Anderson, Moffitt and Memorial Sloan-Kettering, the physicians of Florida Cancer Specialists provide leadership and consultation in the state’s leading hospitals. Established in 1984, FCS serves patients on the Gulf Coast from Naples to the greater Tampa Bay area, north as far as Tallahassee, in Orlando and surrounding Central Florida communities, and on the east coast in Palm Beach County. In 2012, FCS was recognized by Modern Healthcare as one of the 40 fastest growing healthcare companies in the United States. At Florida Cancer Specialists, our primary purpose – and our passion – is to provide the most advanced cancer treatment, using cutting-edge technologies, in a setting where patients can be close to home and surrounded by family and friends.

For More Information, Contact:

Angela Evans
Double Diamond Marketing + Communications
angela@dddinc.com
615.254.1515

Elaine Ganick
Double Diamond Marketing + Communications
elaine@dddinc.com
615.377.7877

Shelly Glenn, VP Marketing & Sales
Florida Cancer Specialists
sglenn@flcancer.com
770.365.6168

About VIZZIA

VIZZIA Technologies is a leading provider of process improvement solutions for healthcare organizations. VIZZIA’s solutions are based on Real-Time Location and Passive RFID systems that bring the needed visibility and data required to help organizations cut costs and streamline complicated processes, such as Asset Management, Surgical Instrument Management, Temperature Monitoring, Hand-Hygiene Compliance, Clinical Workflow Improvement, and Patient Throughput Optimization.

VIZZIA delivers a full-service solution which includes helping select, deploy, manage, maintain and operate the best tracking technologies available to meet their client’s operational goals. Their proprietary VIZZION™ Suite software platform transforms the tracking technology information into the necessary maps, lists, alerts and communications needed to automate procedures that deliver performance improvement results.  For more information about VIZZIA, visit www.vizziatech.com.

About CenTrak

CenTrak® is The Smarter Real-Time Location System™ (RTLS) – the leading provider of precise, versatile, and cost-effective location solutions for healthcare. CenTrak’s Clinical-Grade RTLS™ offers unmatched accuracy, speed, performance and power-efficiency making it a smarter investment. CenTrak’s Gen2IR™ technology delivers certainty-based location data, a requirement for workflow and other healthcare applications. CenTrak is currently deployed at hundreds of world-class healthcare facilities in the US, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. www.centrak.com

Virtual Wall™, Clinical-Grade Locating™, Clinical-Grade RTLS™, Gen2IR™ and CenTrak® are registered trademarks of CenTrak Inc.

 

VIZZIA RTLS transforms the patient experience at Florida Cancer Specialists

Now that’s a fast ROI!

Adam Peck, Centrak Director of Marketing
Originally posted at Centrak.com

To get a real sense of the true value of a high-performance, reliable and certainty-based room level RTLS you need to hear about this story at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, CA.

Centrak RTLS locates $26,000 Wound Vac inside Biohazard bin!

Any technology no matter how effective is only as good as the users who apply it. A long time partner of CenTrak, VIZZIA not only deploys CenTrak’s industry-leading RTLS system but they also provide hospitals with on-site staff to ensure the technology is used effectively. At Mission Hospital, VIZZIA manages the Equipment Distribution process, moving equipment from a central storage area to Clean Storage locations around the hospital, then picking up and cleaning the equipment after patient use. The VIZZIA person in charge of the hospital’s second shift (Matt) needed to do a bed rentals round since VIZZIA not only improves utilization of the hospital’s owned equipment fleet but also ensures the hospital rents less equipment. “After the round, he noticed that a Wound Vac was not located in the room where it was supposed to be located. He found this out by using VIZZION, their company’s information portal that presents location data from the CenTrak RTLS.  The system showed that the Wound Vac was inside the soiled room. Although he checked there and could not find the unit, Matt was confident of VIZZION’s accuracy given that it utilizes CenTrak certainty-based room level technology. After searching the area again, he determined that the Wound Vac could be inside the Biohazard bin, so rather than check inside it, he took the bin outside of the room to see if the CenTrak RTLS would capture its location in the hallway. He checked VIZZION and sure enough, it immediately showed inside in the hallway (inside the bin!!)” as indicated in an email sent to the Mission Hospital’s Supply Management team.

The Wound Vac was retrieved and the hospital was able to save $26,500. This is just one example that shows how valuable a reliable RTLS system can be if used in concert with a well-trained and motivated staff that knows how to use the system to its fullest. Remarkably, the CenTrak RTLS not only identifies room-level location with certainty, but assets can be reliably detected inside a Biohazard bin!

First year savings at Mission Hospital total more than $300,000

  • Reduced Rentals saving $32,000
  • Reduced Equipment Loses, saving $150,000
  • Reduced Capital Expenditures, saving $120,000

VIZZIA and CenTrak had partnered together to deliver a reliable asset management solution for Mission Hospital.  Mission Hospital, a 552-bed facility with two campuses located in Mission Viejo and Laguna Beach, Calif., was experiencing significant costs relating to their moveable medical equipment and its management. By employing VIZZIA — who deployed the CenTrak hybrid Gen2 infrared (IR) and RFID system to track the location, cleaning and maintenance of its moveable medical equipment — VIZZIA delivered to Mission Hospital remarkable savings. Following the system’s installation, the equipment utilization rate for tagged items rose significantly, helping the hospital to reduce rentals by $32,594 in its first year of operation. The rate of lost or stolen devices dropped from 13.8 percent to 0 percent, resulting in an annual savings of more than $150,000.  In addition, the hospital was able to reduce capital purchases by another $128,000.

Clinical team more satisfied with equipment management, leading to less hoarding

Even though the hard savings so far have been impressive, the benefits to the hospital’s nursing team and Biomedical Engineering teams may be even more important. VIZZIA conducts a staff satisfaction survey every 6 months to ensure equipment is being distributed effectively. Nurse satisfaction scores rose by 54 percent after the first six months. Most importantly, 66 percent more nurses said they felt they no longer needed to hoard equipment and 46 percent said they no longer have to search for equipment, which on average saves about 30 minutes per shift per day per department, which can mean overtime savings and other staff-related cost savings of hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.

To learn more about how CenTrak can help your hospital save money, visit www.centrak.com.

VIZZIA – Centrak RTLS provides fast ROI

Intelleflex and VIZZIA Announce Partnership Agreement for Application of Semi-Active RFID Tags

Intelleflex and VIZZIA Announce Partnership Agreement