Friday, January 31, 2014


In Part 1, we discussed the context in which I met Anand Surana, the CEO of ICEGEIN.   An ICEGEIN video  had come to me through the social media website.  I worked on configuring an RTLS solution for asset management and temperature monitoring.  The ICEGEIN video helped us envision how the future state of our RTLS may look. Of course, this was all guided by our written strategic plan.  In turn, the acquisition plan guided us as to how certain decisions would be made about the life-cycle of the system, including expansion. Part 1 left us with the nursing department’s positive response to the video.   

One year later, 2011, I co-presented at a healthcare information symposium to a standing room only crowd.  A man sat up front.  “Hey,” I thought.  “That looks like Anand Surana.” All I had to go on was a small Linkedin photo.  We had never met or had a video conference.  I decided to be sure.  At the first opportunity, I mentioned the video and how it was an important part of our efforts to show the potential of our plans for RTLS.  A free, no strings attached plug before an audience about something, to that point and to our knowledge, only he alone had done. To say that his smile reflected happiness understates the moment.

    In December 2013, I caught up with Anand again.  He updated me on ICEGEIN. “We have operations dealing with banks, healthcare, and manufacturing,” remarked Anand. “We have expanded outside of RTLS and RFID as well.
    “So, let’s go back a few years.  Just how did you decide to get into the RTLS and RFID markets?”  I asked.
    “After getting a degree from Cardiff University in the United Kingdom, I returned home to Chennai, India to help my parents with their business.”
    “For our audience, can you tell me something about Chennai?”  
Anand replied with all the benevolence one would expect from a person speaking of his home. “Chennai is on the eastern shore located on the Bay of Bengal.  It is the capital city of the state of Tamil Nadu.  The official language is English as it is in all of India.  The local language is Tamil.  About every two hundred kilometers you drive, you will find a different local language. And that is the beauty of our country.
    “Dishes like idli and dosai are very well known.  Idli and Dosai are made from rice and black lentils.”  Idli takes the shape of a waffle while dosai is more like a loaf <how do they differ? 
    “Bharata Natyam is an ancient form of South Indian dance that comes out of Tamil Nadu. The dancers create lines of movement and symbols that capture the lyrics of the song. The dancers transition from one character to the other to parallel the story.
    “Traditional weddings are performed as well. My brother’s wedding lasted three days.  As tradition states, he showed up on a white horse to take his bride home. It was a very traditional wedding.” 
    “Thanks for sharing some of your background.  I appreciate that insight.  After helping your parents with stabilizing and growing their business, then what?”
    “Out of all the capability we had, there was nothing called Corporate IT.  I set out to take on responsibilities that were not really performed by someone as young as I was at the time.  While I was setting up our state-of-the-art IT services, I had in mind setting up a global IT company, too.  RFID was a hot market with huge demands.  It was a good match for the capabilities we had developed.  Currently, we are one of the faster growing companies.”

An important point is that ICEGEIN makes no RTLS or RFID hardware. They build software applications that are independent of the hardware choice.  In the case of RTLS/RFID, especially at this point, the market understands that no single technology fits every business process or every pocketbook.  I believe that integrators and specialized solution providers are positioned to better operate under a hard lesson learned by providers concerning the adoption rate for healthcare.  While one should put enterprise coverage on the table for a prospect, not everything is about tracking everything anywhere in a medical facility.  There are plenty of entry points.  One needs to have options.

The options ICEGEIN and the Surana Group offers are intriguing, even on the basic level.

Coming Up in Part 3 of 3
The Group Backing ICEGEIN
Bold moves in the US Market

Monday, January 27, 2014

All-Knowing Data Gods

Big data, data standards, blah, blah, blah-blah, blah-blah, listen to the rhythm of the failing data-driven anything.  Why does leveraging big data or developing industry standards matter when internal processes have no methodology to propagate those data standards throughout the enterprise?  Don’t get me wrong.  I am all for developing industry standards.   Applications of big data, like that mentioned in my previous posts, we need such approaches in healthcare.

“… precise and consistent data collection over time points to trends, helps maximize outputs, and empowers people from the basement to the C-Suite.”  Those are my words.  No need to convert the converted.   
This blog directs blah, blah, blah-blah, blah-blah… directly at the attitudes which purport that some all data-knowing external entity will solve, what are inescapably, internal process problems with data standardization. 

Look at the problem in this demonstration of maximizing efficiency and best practices.  Gather four employees and one contractor in a room.  Put them shoulder to shoulder.  Make sure the contractor is between the fourth and fifth persons from the left, as viewed when facing the group.  Stand about three meters in front of this group.  These people represent five “enterprise” software applications which can house key asset management data: Biomedical Equipment, Plant Systems, IT Services, the Contractor’s Database, and the Asset Ledger.   

Next, let the contractor choose how to participate in this process.  Then, go whisper in the ear of the first application on the left that this information must be passed to the next application in line.  This information is, “We bought a CT Scanner, model number 1234, serial number 45678.  It cost us $1,700,000 and has another $300,000 in software and other requirements associated with it.  The infrastructure requirements are $25,000.    Levels of service and service costs for hardware and software are ….” And so on.

The first application implements the current best practice to insure key data is propagated throughout the enterprise.  Meaning, the application:
1.       Steps out of line
2.      Leaves the room
3.      Proceeds to an office down the hall
4.      Spits out four sheets of paper for an employee sitting at a desk
5.      Returns to the proper place in line.

The employee at the desk:
1.       Looks at the paper
2.      Deciphers it
3.      Determines what actions should be taken
4.      Puts it aside for weeks
5.      Weeks later, writes new instructions on a sheet of paper
6.      Delivers this different sheet of paper to the second application waiting in line.

The process is repeated until it gets to the contractor.  Only, the contractor chose not to remain in line and doesn’t receive key information about IT support.  The process skips the contractor and continues with the third application stepping out of line to find the appropriate employee that will notify the fifth application. 

As the leader, at what point would you stop this best practice?    Farcical, isn’t it?  It is not hard to see that the applications should just pass the information to the other without manual inputs.  Yet, this is what’s going on in hospitals.

The image below shows what a hospital may have as far as “enterprise” applications which store key capital asset information.  In many places, each of these have different processes that simply pass information to the user in the form of paper.  At best, someone runs a query.  The recipient takes that information and inputs the same data into another application which is a ridiculous waste of time and increases chances of error.          
So, why do industry standards matter when internal processes have no methodology to propagate those data standards throughout the enterprise?  If capital equipment or any item shows up on the receiving dock with a standardized label or RFID label, what are the chances that information will be propagated throughout the enterprise?  If it isn’t propagated though out the enterprise, what good is it?  Only to the point of knowing what was ordered, so staff can run it down if there is a recall.  Every step that requires an unnecessary redundant input increases the chance for error and omission.  That is fleeing from data standardization. 

Throw in a healthcare information system in which equipment is ordered for patient treatment.  Does the standard label matter there?  How about a high level decision support system where Return on Investment is important but one has absolutely no handle on expense?  There are consulting agencies that will tell what should be spent.  Leadership can lay down the law to make it so without even understanding how the application of the consultant’s big data may not even be relevant to the hospital system. Why does leveraging big data matter when internal processes have no methodology to propagate those data standards throughout the enterprise? 

Here is the real catch.  What else can a leader do but make the best decision based on experience, staff experience, and the information he or she has at that moment.  No one has faith in the internal data and even less faith that data quality can actually occur in a timely manner and in some meaningful way for leadership to use.  

So, what good is leveraging big data or developing industry standards when no methodology exists to propagate data standards throughout the enterprise?  Very little.  The all-knowing data gods help those who help themselves.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


A New Generation of Sight and Movement

Anand Surana is a co-founder and the CEO of ICEGEIN. The company is a Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS) and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) solution provider.  ICEGEIN offers enterprise deployments, as well as, integration services for Asia, The European Union, and the Americas in the industries of healthcare, banking, and manufacturing. ICEGEIN is an acronym, for Information, Communication, and Entertainment Generation Computing. 

Anand’s vision is, as it was, fifteen years ago when he helped found ICEGEIN.  “Build a global information technology company!”  ICEGEIN is a privately held company of the Surana Group, which is among the largest industrial businesses in India.  ICEGEIN is fully backed by the Surana Group and is part of a larger global strategy for healthcare.  With the resources of the Surana Group, he has leads ICEGEIN in making serious strides toward global growth.

The Surana Group’s industrial businesses include:
- Bhagyanagar India Limited – They produce ferrous and non-ferrous metals for motors, electronic panels, telecommunications power distribution, and solar energy components. 
- Surana Telecom and Power LTD – Aluminum and optical fiber for Telecom is its focus.
- Surana Venture LTD – Renewable energy production is its focus.

Anand and I met over Linkedin in 2010 as a result of me figuring out how to get something done on a shoestring budget.  Not only is necessity the mother of invention, it’s the father of necessary connections.  I faced a material shortage. I really couldn’t find the right material to effectively communicate how RTLS could help improve workflow in our medical center. YouTube, embedded multimedia ads, and other content were not readily available as it is now. I looked to help from my connections and their connections to fill that need. 

Nursing had been part of our overall strategy development.  Only, our initial implementation was for asset management.  That’s where intense focus had been, implementing centralized asset utilization and temperature monitoring.  The time had come to move toward the broader applications, like patient transport. This approach was written into our acquisition plan. It included some concepts not found in many acquisition plans.

First, I wrote the manner in which we would make key decisions about hardware and software expansions all the way through a three year useful life-cycle. Second, making those key decisions meant taking intellectual ownership of outcomes. The plan did not contain the words intellectual ownership. I built the concepts intrinsically and inextricably into the plan.  These concepts guided the very first slide bullets in every presentation given throughout the project.   

For example, the opening statement of the plan read, “We need a better way to understand the condition of our assets and how to minimize their effect on our cash flow.” This statement may sound like a sales pitch.  Indeed, it was used to help sell the idea to leadership.  That doesn’t mean that the team wasn’t intensely driven to make it happen.  And taking intellectual ownership was established in the minds of those involved by the words better, way, understand, condition, our, how, and minimize. All of these words can require both cognitive and physical involvement.  By briefing these words over and over again, I hoped that they would plant the seeds of intellectual ownership.

The vendor’s Vice President of Marketing was very helpful in guiding our approach, as well.  She more than helped me not to forget to reengage nursing through the nursing education department after our initial implementation. 

Our team chose not to use only the vendor’s material.  We looked at other slide presentations, a few well-polished talking heads videos we found, and white papers.  None of them really worked. These were fine for supporting the effort.  We needed something better with which to lead.  Around October 2010, a link to an ICEGEIN video came through my Linkedin connections.  I watched the video then forwarded it to my nursing contact. 
The ICEGEIN video showed RTLS use in a large, real world clinical setting outside the United States - not simulated, real world and everything that comes with it.  That’s what I really appreciated about the video. 

I found Anand’s contact information on Linkedin. He was happy to let us use the ICEGEIN video for training.  The video went over very well with the nursing education department and other key nursing staff.

Coming Soon:
In Part 3: Healthcare Integration, Greater moves than an EMR integration

Friday, January 17, 2014

Coming Soon: Anand Surana, CEO of ICEGEIN

Coming Soon: Anand Surana, CEO of ICEGEIN
"A New Generation of Sight and Movement"

 Read About:
- Its co-founder and CEO
- The Group Backing ICEGEIN
- Its very interesting approach to U.S. Healthcare

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