Patient-centric devices in hospital rooms

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This morning I interviewed Michael O’Neil, the CEO of GetWellNetworks, and he’s got a pretty interesting story to tell. A few years ago Michael was recovering from surgery to remove a malignant stomach tumor and spent many days in a hospital bed unable to do much other than stare at a TV up at the wall. He wanted more information about his condition and to communicate with his friends and family but felt helpless as he could do nothing more than wait for visitors and hope that he was getting better.

When he got out of the hospital, he was so sure there was a market for patient-centric entertainment and communications devices that he started a company around it and it’s grown to about 60 people now and they’ve sold hundreds of units into dozens of sites. He spoke to me about how his devices, which are simple Dell boxes sitting inside hospital rooms, can provide entertainment for patients while allowing caregivers an easy way to get targeted educational information right at the bedside.

Bedside strategies are something that all major vendors are vying for these days; and, the fight will be brutal as the 800 pound gorillas like Cerner, McKesson, and CardinalHeath duke it out for that space. It’ll be interesting to see if a small company like GetWellNetworks can succeed as an independent firm in the long term but short- and medium-term future looks pretty bright based on ther current client list and backorders.

What I really liked about their strategy was that they are “CIO Friendly” in that they don’t require special hardware or networks. Instead, they rely on integration of “white boxes” for hardware and focus more on their software. I also liked the fact that they provide compliance information, assist with JCAHO core measures reporting, and have incorporated pain assessment functionality. They can also take data from their devices and put itback into EMRs and EHRs if that’s something that clients want to do as well.

They’re worth checking out — simple boxes, relatively easy integration, and about 90 days from contract to first device getting up and running seem like a winning combination. The only criticism I had was that it would be “another specialty box” in the hospital that may not provide much-needed clinical connectivity to monitors already in the room but given the GetWellNetworks strategy that may be an area they enter in the future.


Shahid N. Shah

Shahid Shah is an internationally recognized enterprise software guru that specializes in digital health with an emphasis on e-health, EHR/EMR, big data, iOT, data interoperability, med device connectivity, and bioinformatics.