Posted: Monday, September 12, 2016 7:00 pm
Santa Fe’s Vizzia Technologies helps hospitals track patient interactions, equipment to improve efficiency, care
Hardware developed by VIZZIA that is used in systems for the healthcare industry where sensor systems are used to track movements and interactions between doctors, nurses, patients and their equipment. Clyde Mueller/The New Mexican
“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.
Address: 3900 Paseo Del Sol
On the Web: www.vizziatech.com