Podcasts > Ep. 176 - Transforming healthcare productivity with RTLS
Ep. 176
Transforming healthcare productivity with RTLS
Scott Hondros, Vice President of Professional Services, CenTrak
Tuesday, May 09, 2023

In this week's episode, we interviewed Scott Hondros, Vice President of Professional Services at CenTrak. CenTrak helps healthcare facilities create a safe, and efficient healthcare environment through the deployment of industry-leading real-time location systems.

In this episode, we discussed how healthcare providers use IoT systems data to increase productivity, reduce operating costs and transform patient care. We also talked about machine-learning adoption to generate insights into asset utilization and the potential for the adoption of generative AI to create speech-based user interfaces.

Key Questions:

  • Do you see people experimenting with a new business model around RTLS?
  • What is the stakeholder relationship for large healthcare facilities?
  • What is the future of voice-based interfaces for the healthcare industry?


Erik: Scott, thanks for joining us on the podcast today.

Scott: Thanks for having me. Looking forward to talking about all the exciting technology trends in healthcare.

Erik: Yeah, me as well. It's always interesting. I think when you set up a business, you have to decide. Are we going to be a horizontal technology provider — for example, providing real-time location services across any kind of asset that could be moving in the world — or are we going to focus on a specific environment, a specific customer group? I guess there's arguments either way. But I think it often does make sense to orient around a specific market. So, I'm really looking forward to learning from you what that market looks like. I think you chose a particularly challenging one.

Scott: Yeah, I did.

Erik: But before we get into that, Scott, I'd love to understand a little bit more just about yourself personally. So, I know that you joined CenTrak basically via an acquisition, right? Your previous company was acquired. When did you first touch upon these topics of real-time location technologies, and then also maybe the market of healthcare?

Scott: Yes, it's been an interesting journey. As you mentioned, I came to CenTrak through an acquisition from a company known as Infinite Leap. We began in 2011 as a RTLS service-focused organization. And so, when I joined Infinite Leap in 2012, we had one client. We started working really to focus on RTLS consulting and bringing in our expertise around that specific use case — in healthcare only. That was really what we focused on. And so, I have worked with Infinite Leap for about eight or nine years. Then CenTrak acquired Infinite Leap at the end of 2021. That was really an interesting time, because CenTrak was looking to bring on — they had software, and they had hardware — the necessary professional services to really provide an end-to-end solution set to healthcare clients. It's something that was extremely advantageous for CenTrak and something the market had been asking for. So, it's been an exciting almost a year and a half now since the acquisition. We're really ramping up and have integrated our service offerings into CenTrak.

My background at Infinite Leap, we spent a lot of time on a few very marquee client sites that, hopefully, we'll get to speak about later on. We focused on some of the more advanced use cases within the real-time locating world within healthcare. So, we went far beyond just assets and maybe environmental monitoring, and got into some really cool integrations and things around patient flow and staff to rest and some other exciting use cases. I look forward to talking about it here today.

Erik: Yeah, great. I like to get into the market a bit here, maybe as a starting point. But maybe the first thing we can do is define the market. So, healthcare is still vast. I was reading recently. Something like 20%, 25% of US GDP is devoted to healthcare on numerous markets. Then, of course, you have the hospitals. You also have a lot of other formats, everything from that, to I guess at home care on the other extreme. What is the primary scope of CenTrak?

Scott: We focus on healthcare, first off. But that can range from outpatient, ambulatory surgery centers, to senior living, to some of the marquee academic medical centers that are known worldwide. So, we really have different solutions that we work with, with each of those clients depending on what their needs are. It's not a one-size-fits-all. And so, we really try and focus on what the client needs, and then figuring out which of our solution offerings make sense for that organization.

Erik: Got you. Okay. It's always environments where there's a patient somewhere in the picture, is that right? Or do you work also with biotech companies, med tech companies that also maybe have similar assets?

Scott: Yeah, we partner with a wide variety of organizations — as you mentioned, on the biomed side or the equipment distribution side. It's been in healthcare for a little over a decade now in this industry. One of the areas that I find most interesting and fascinating is, for a long time, I thought of the doctors and the nurses, what ran hospitals and the patients that they serve. But there's this underlying group in environmental services, in food and nutrition, equipment distribution. There’re all of these ancillary departments that are unbelievably foundational to hospital operations taking place, so that they can deliver patient care. And so, one of the areas that I really dove deep into were those ancillary services early on.

And so, we have found many different use cases and ways to optimize those areas through using RTLS in a wide variety of ways, that in the end, it still is about that patient in that family. But if we can allow for equipment to be picked up sooner from a soiled room, then a patient can receive care a little bit quicker, or someone can move up from the emergency department to a room. So, it's still about the patient. But there are so much that goes on within healthcare that happens behind the scenes that is very complex but exciting in the same way.

Erik: Yeah, got it. So, maybe we can go in a little bit more depth here. I guess most of the folks that are listening are going to be familiar with RTLS. But it'd be great if you can just take a moment and explain that in a couple sentences. But then, we can go, I think, a bit more deep into what is unique. Probably, most people would be thinking of this from maybe more of a supply chain perspective or manufacturing perspective. What is unique about the healthcare environment in terms of the use cases, maybe the constraints or the challenges in deploying these systems?

Scott: Sure. RTLS, I like to tell my wife and my son who are not involved in healthcare. They're like, "What do you do for a living? I said, it's really, if you know what an Apple air tag is or a tile device, we track things in a hospital. More commonly, we are able to locate things. We have devices that are located on equipment, in rooms, on key personnel. We're able to visualize that through different software integrations, and really allow for real-time information to be obtained for you to disseminate, depending on your role, to make yourself more efficient and to automate processes.

I think, at the end of the day, what RTLS' true benefit is to make healthcare staff more efficient. It's not to get rid of anyone, but it's to make them more efficient to provide more timely patient care. And so, we do that through a wide variety of technologies. In the most simplistic terms, it's about having assets that we know where those individuals or those physical assets are located within the medical center, and being able to communicate that back through a variety of means. That's really where we focus our efforts and come up with use cases that can drive those different problems, and come up with technologies and solutions that can allow for that to be an efficient and a cost-effective deployment.

Erik: Got you. I guess, at the most fundamental level, it's when I need to know where an asset is, I can locate it. I guess that's the most fundamental. But then, when you have that location data, you can find all sorts of other optimizations in terms of what's the frequency of use of this. There are probably some constraints here that I'm not as aware of in the healthcare environment. I know in the manufacturing environment, you can also start to get some other analytics around utilization rate, around maybe even device health, etcetera, where there might be some constraints in the medical space because of the difficulty of integration with these critical care devices. Beyond the identifying location of the device, what are the other range of more commonly adopted use cases?

Scott: Yeah, so you brought up a good point. For a long time in the RTLS industry, it was, "Let's try in being able to log into a piece of software and locate where an infusion pump is right now. What we are trying to do now is take different machine learning, different automation and algorithms and say, "Let's not have anyone have to log in. Let's allow that nurse to provide the care. Let's understand what's happening in that room, to have that a piece of equipment, we'd like to say, when the care provider is going to need it. And so, if there's an OR surgery that's going to take place, for instance, we can integrate with the EMR to understand what the necessary items are for that case. If there's an item missing, we can automate that request to equipment distribution so that the surgery is on time. No one's having to log in and look for a piece of equipment. And so, really always continuing to push the envelope of how we can further automate the problem that we're looking to solve. That's how you find a piece of equipment, or you can have the right thing in the right place.

But to your question about utilization, that's where it gets really exciting because we have vast amounts of information. Healthcare, for the most part, is 24/7 in a lot of our client’s organizations. And so, the data that we are accumulating is enormous. When we go back and we actually start looking at it, we can understand based on the location granularity if a piece of equipment was in a room, if it was attached to a patient, if it was in a maintenance status, if it was dirty. And so, all of this data allows for us to start looking at the true utilization across a fleet, which, in healthcare, everything comes with an extra dollar sign. And so, anything that you might buy in the manufacturing world, healthcare is going to add another dollar sign to it. So, this equipment is unbelievably expensive. Many of these organizations were tracking 15 to 25,000 pieces of equipment moving around.

And so, we work with the vice presidents and the directors of facility management and material distribution to really understand during budgeting what equipment has a high utilization, and what equipment has a low utilization. The reason for that is requests come in during budget when they're planning for capital and operating expenses. We're able to look at the RTLS data very quickly and say, "You know what? There's actually some over here that have a low utilization that we can repurpose for your area." That's where you start getting into real hard dollar cost savings that leadership and CFOs can say, "Okay. I'm game. This makes sense. We have something here." We had a request, and we were able to repurpose it. That's where you can — if you start doing that at scale, you can get to significant return on your investment fairly quickly.

Erik: Okay. Interesting. See, the natural enemy of my wife, she works with Philips Healthcare. So, she would like to have that utilization rate as low as possible. Just buy more equipment, please.

Scott: Okay. It is interesting, though. When we partner with biomed groups who are third-party entities within these facilities, healthcare equipment is getting smaller and more mobile. Years ago, you never would have a CRM. You never would have some of these other mobile medical pieces of equipment. And so, they are being asked to manage more from a biomedical engineering perspective. They're being asked to maintain more about the organizations that they have contracts with. And so, what we are seeing in the clients that we've worked with — because they're one of our key departments within the medical center that we work with — is they're not having to reduce staff so to speak. But they're able to take on more of that mobile equipment that's coming into the facility for the same price. So, they're becoming more efficient because they can go out and understand where the equipment is, when it needs its preventative maintenance. They can go out and find things when there's a recall in a very targeted manner versus the needle in the haystack suite method that was used for many years. And so, there's a very partner aspect to working with a lot of these medical providers from an equipment standpoint.

Erik: I'm curious from that perspective. Because RTLS in some environments also enables business model innovation around ownership of assets. Maybe for a large, dedicated medical facility, that might be less the case. I'm thinking maybe more for a home care environment or somewhere where you might not need to have the asset in a particular facility 100%. Do you see people experimenting with new business models around this high, in order to get that asset utilization rate up?

Scott: Yeah, I mean, we work with a lot of children's hospitals. Children's hospitals have a lot of specialty beds that come and go depending on what the kid's needs are from a medical standpoint. We have seen some vendors that are using the RTLS data, both the provider of those specialty beds as well as the organization, understand that the data is accurate enough that they can trust it off to where the provider is leaving those beds on the premises in a storage location. As I mentioned earlier, with us having that granularity from a room level standpoint, they're able to classify that is not in use. When that bed moves up to a patient room, the clock starts ticking. So, the vendor gets the benefit of not having to have an off-site storage and having the logistics of getting the bed there. They trust the data enough on both sides of the aisle. That when the bed is in use, that's what they're actually billed for by the vendor, and not just when it's on site, the clock is ticking. And so, that was an interesting model that came up.

But then, we see it going the other way, where a hospital that I used to work with was very prominent in the wound vac space. They would take those out to patients that had left the facility. The clock or the automation would trigger when it left the facility. And so, you can do a lot of things in reverse. Much of what my team and I are responsible for is coming up with really unique ways to use technology, that for the most part has been around for quite a while, and figuring out a way to use that for these very unique use cases. So, there's quite a few use cases that several years ago were not even on the map.

Erik: Okay. Quite interesting. I'm always fascinated about the new business models and ways of working that IoT enables. You touched briefly on the group of people that you're working with. It sounds like it could be quite diverse, right? It could be multiple functions. It could be the hospital administrator from more of a top-down perspective. Then there's also these stakeholders in IT that might end up being your frontline touch people, even if they might not be making the budget decisions. What does that look like? Because I Imagine that stakeholder relationship could be quite complex at a large facility.

Scott: It is. What I've seen over the years is that it typically comes in through two avenues, a request to any RTLS provider. It is through IT, where they look at it as there's this new technology. They may have seen it at HEMS or some other major convention, and they're excited about how that could fit into their organization. Or it comes in through resource management, more from that equipment biomed side of the business. And so, what we find is that not one group has all of the answers to deploy an enterprise solution. It's very important in one of the areas that Infinite Leap and now CenTrak has been very successful is that when it comes in from this single request, so if biomed director is asking for a solution to manage his or her assets, that's a very narrow-focused use case. It's a big one, but it's a very narrow use case. And so, when you go to actually put the numbers together, it is an enormous expense that it's hard to justify the ROI for a single use case to outfit 1000 bed hospital for RTLS.

And so, what we have done is, we've began what we call an engage assessment. It's a very unique business tool where we go in and partner with all of these different groups. If IT brings us in, we're partnering with them along with the leaders of these other ancillary departments to truly build out a three- to five-year business model. That business model is key because it has the ROI. We calculate it for each use case. We do a projected roadmap. We build out the actual operational resources that are required once the project goes live. It provides a roadmap to the organization that tailors to their strategic needs. And it's not where we go and say, "Okay. You need to do this, and then you need to do this." We go in and interview them. It's a very short six- to eight-week process where they, in the end, have something that they can take to their C-level leadership that is a full business model for RTLS.

And so, in the end, we see IT sometimes own the application side or the technology side. Then facilities or biomed have a much stronger stake in the maybe the physical infrastructure. Then another group has ownership of maybe some of the operational aspects when it gets more into the patient side of things. And so, a multi-department stakeholder relationship is key. We have seen a great deal of success. I would say the clients where we have seen the most long-term value and true partnership is where there's a representative from both the IT side and then the clinical side of the house as well. Because you need that clinical understanding. Everything we're doing at the end of the day touches those patients. And so, when you can bring the tech and the clinical sides together, the success that we've seen is tremendous.

Erik: Okay. Interesting. I'm glad you mentioned the first step there. So, if we think about the full solution stack, let's say, there's this kind of upfront assessment, this roadmapping, and the building the business case. Then you have the different technical elements. So, you have the hardware devices. I get your point there that that's a big CapEx investment. So, you want to have multiple use cases that are leveraging that capability. Then you have software solutions which, I guess, are maybe oriented around specific use cases. Then you're going to have system integration. Is it basically consulting IoT device software and integration?

Scott: Yeah, it is. At the most basic level, absolutely. One of the key things that we try and really work with clients on, if they come to us and say, "Hey, Scott, I've never done RTLS before. We want to jump into badging all of our staff and doing patient flow in the OR first." We're going to push back and say, "Have you thought about starting with something that's not as human-centric?" The reason why that's important is, at the end of the day, this is still technology, and it's still in the timeline of things. It's still new technology. And so, hospitals are extremely complex in their own right. When you layer this in and you start integrating with other systems, it becomes even more so.

What we do is we help clients navigate through that process with — members of my team are former clinicians and former hospital administrators. And so, they're working with their peers to navigate through how to deploy RTLS in a logical manner to be successful, both from a financial and an operational standpoint. It's important that if you start with assets, you're not impacting a patient. Or, if you start with environmental monitoring, it's a big win for staff not having to manually document temperatures. And so, you're slowly building up the trust and the equity within the organization. Because the minute that you go into working on staff facing applications and use cases and patient use cases, the bar goes to the very top. I mean, there's nothing more important than working with the patients and the staff. And so, you need to have some equity build up, and you need to have some wins that staff are feel comfortable with the technology and invested in. So, it's the main reason why we start with those use cases. Then we start moving into a lot of the exciting stuff that you hear about more than the other ones.

Erik: Okay. That logic makes complete sense. Then I suppose if we're also looking at the range of use cases, you have your own solution stack. I imagine there are a lot of other companies — everybody from device OEM to other technology providers who who'd like also access to the data that you're producing, and maybe the analysis. There are probably some cases as well where your solution could also leverage some data coming off of other systems to enrich your datasets. What does that partnership look like typically?

Scott: After the acquisition, CenTrak really began to focus on how all of this data could come together. In a unique way, that would allow for both our clients, our partners, and then my team of consultants to all be more successful. We came up with something called Engage IQ. It is a multi-stream of data that's coming in from all of our systems and all of our technology inputs, but also data from our patients that are moving around through the EMR. At the same time, we're pushing data back out as well. The point of this is that we are really moving into that analytics side. Not just creating reports on utilization and things that we've been doing for a long time, but to really start ramping up how we can use automation and machine learning, as I mentioned earlier, to automate even more processes and to shine the light on things that are cutting edge.

And so, when we really start getting into the Engage IQ side of things from an analytic standpoint, it's allowed us and opened up, I would say, more opportunities to work with other data sources within the medical center that previously we might not have. So, whether it's the purchasing system or where we can understand things coming in and out from that perspective. Or the biomedical engineering equipment system, we can understand when the equipment is due for maintenance, and start proactively sending notifications. Again, all of this is to make each of those individual recipients more efficient in doing their job. At the end of the day, it allows for us — we are very big on — if we go back to what we were talking about a minute ago on that engage assessment, on that front-end business model, I mentioned that we do predictive analysis on what the ROI is going to be for particular use cases.

We take the organization's data for a use case and predict what that will be. We'd like to hold ourselves accountable to that. So, when we go and implement a project, we are building the best practices and the foundation to then achieve that. So, after a project, when we are back on the airplane, so to speak, and the organization is using the systems we've deployed, this Engage IQ platform now is taking that data continuously, and sharing against the predictions what that ROI is. And so, it's really a transparent way in which to hold a vendor accountable, but also for an organization to have visibility and transparency into their ROI. That's what's been lacking in the industry for a long time. A lot of awesome implementations, a lot of great people doing fantastic things. But at the end of the day, how do you show the CFO that this investment really is making an impact? And so, that has allowed us to have tremendous focus on showing that value back to the client. It's something I'm very excited about and the team as well.

Erik: Yeah, that's great. That's one of the very common challenges in the broader IoT space. Another interesting perspective on that is that the data that you are generated in processing is certainly valuable to your primary client. It's also valuable to a medical device OEM that has equipment there. Are those companies, are they ever, let's say, secondary clients where they might say maybe an agreement with the hospital that we can also purchase some of that data or having an exchange, or they have the primary client where they say, hey, we just want to deploy your solution on all of our devices that are going out the factory door?

Scott: Yes, both. We have certainly seen an uptick in requests from the equipment owners to understand how their equipment is utilized in ways that they never have been able to visualize before. Data requires a lot of diligence, a lot of trust. You really have to be a good steward of that. And so, when we are working, with us having some of it being PHI on the patient side of things, obviously, all of the rigorous security best practices that all of these academic medical centers require is something that we adhere to and exceed. But whenever we're sharing data, it has to be something that the organization has signed off on and is in agreement with. Then even with that, most of the time, it's anonymized. It'll have the equipment type. But if we're talking about patients or staff, there's really no value to actually share patient or staff information in any way whatsoever. Everything is anonymized to prevent something from ever happening.

When we are looking at data though, a lot of organizations are very interested in what their peers are doing. So if I'm an academic medical center in California, I'd be very interested in what my competitor in North Carolina at a large academic medical center is doing, or what their utilization is, or what their metrics are on in a large oncology center, for instance, on patient throughput. And so, we are seeing more of a desire to compare themselves with each other just in our own client base. And so, that's something that we are talking with our client advisory council about — again, anonymizing the organization and the data, but being able to say, "You know what? This organization, your peer of the same size is doing this," so that they can understand where they are. That's something we've seen a significant desire for across our client base over the last, I'd say, two years.

Erik: Yeah, got you. It makes a lot of sense. I think one of the critical things to think through is how to maximize the value of the data that's being collected, and then spread that investment. I also noticed that you're a subsidiary of Halma, which is quite an interesting company. It has quite a large portfolio of very specialized companies, including certainly in healthcare. It looks like some of their portfolio companies that are not directly healthcare companies might also be deploying solutions in healthcare related to safety, and so forth. Is there much cross-pollination between companies in Halma's portfolio?

Scott: There is. It's a London-based company, a holding company that has acquired CenTrak quite a few years ago, and they do have a large healthcare presence, especially here in the United States from a device perspective. CenTrak is unique in that, we, I would say, are much more on the software in the service side of things, as well as the hardware. I think the collaboration takes place more so on the hardware side, how organizations are handling supply chain challenges and being able to kind of take that economies of scale and broader thinking from a supply chain perspective. We do partner with some of their organizations on the nurse call side and the international space. And so, that's been exciting to have someone in the same family, so to speak, that you're able to reach out to and develop some business partnerships with. We also have a very large group of partners that we work closely with internationally in the United States. We work with our home partners when we can, but we also have our own set of partners in CenTrak that we work closely with.

Erik: Got you. Let's take five minutes and dig a bit deeper into the tech stack. I think you've given us a good overview of what that looks like. Maybe if we focus first on the hardware side, what are we talking about in terms of the types of sensors? What are you using for connectivity? Is it ever cellular Is it usually RFID, Wi-Fi?

Scott: Yeah, right now, I think in a little while, we'll get into some of the exciting stuff that we have on the roadmap. But for now, we are using a combination of Wi-Fi sensors, IR infrared-based sensors that are communicating via 900 megahertz. For the 900 megahertz in the IR, it's its own internal network that's deployed within the organization. However, we do have multimode tags in equipment that operates on both Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and, infrared. And so, it's a combination of technologies that are deployed again.

If you have a environmental monitoring deployment, for instance, then you have some rural oncology clinic that has some high dollar chemotherapy drugs that might not benefit from the full RTLS deployment. But they need to monitor the environmental monitoring conditions for those chemotherapy drugs, that would be where we would deploy a Wi-Fi based sensor. That would communicate back on the hospital's secured network. When there are areas that might be within the main medical center, so to speak, but require less granularity, we can start looking at different models as well. And so, in an ideal world, we like what we consider called CGL or clinical grade locating, where we've got that room level granularity across the medical center. But sometimes that's simply not feasible from a cost perspective. And so, we really look at where certain use cases need a level of granularity. Then we tie that back during that engage assessment I referenced early on. We tie all of that back to allow the organization to achieve what they need. But it's always key when you're talking about the deployment strategy in the design to think about where they want to be long term as well. So, going into a ceiling at a hospital or deploying something, again, you're impacting the patient care. And so, you need to think about how to do that in the most minimal way possible. And so, we try and think about a deployment model that's going to make sense for them in the short-term, as well as what their long-term goals are.

Erik: Got you. Very clear. Then on the software, I imagine — this starts to get a bit more complex in terms of the portfolio. But is it more of a platform approach where you say everybody gets on the same platform, and we have different modules? Or is it more applications for the portfolio of applications that are standalone?

Scott: We are moving. We have our workflow clinical software. It's cloud based now. We've seen moving to a cloud-based platform is absolutely where we are headed. We've done so with that application. It just makes things so much simpler from an upgrade standpoint and working with clients from a support standpoint, not to mention the less servers and everything for the organization to manage. But we offer different applications, modules, depending on what the use case is. And so, if they are looking for an asset solution, then our Activate solution for assets Is what we would deploy. The different modules layer on top of each other very seamlessly. And so, it's not where you have multiple software's that you're logging into. All of these are web-based. And so, if they're at a workstation, or on an iPad, or even many of them now are much more mobile friendly than they once were, they're easily accessible.

I think what we're seeing more and more is less reliance on the actual UI, and how we can push information that's needed for that individual into the system that they use. And so, if I'm a biomedical technician, I have my medical equipment management system, that is their source of truth. That's where they log in 100% of the day. We are pushing the real-time location of the piece of equipment that that technician is looking for. So, if they're looking for an infusion pump that has a recall on it, they're not having to log into our software and locate it. They're able to hit locate through an integration we have, and it popped right up into their system. They can log into our software. But we've seen a significant uptick in utilization of the actual application when the information is a little bit more available for them.

We do the same thing on the clinical side. So, if I have Epic EMR and I'm a nurse on a unit, and I'm looking to do some rounding, for instance, pushing that location of where that patient is in real-time into a field at Epic is extremely valuable. We've seen, again, where all of a sudden physicians are saying, "Okay. I don't need to go up to that room. Erik is actually done in radiology right now." When you can start saying that you're saving 10 minutes of a physician's time by not going to a room that the patient isn't even in, you can really start quantifying some significant value back to these organizations. As I was sharing earlier, you build some equity with that physician and with that nurse by them having trust and visibility that, okay, this technology isn't something that IT just added. It's really making my life more beneficial and more efficient so that I can go serve the patient that is in the room. And so, when you look at the applications, yes, the user interfaces are important. But more so, we are really thinking about that end consumer of the information, and what system they may use for that predominant part of their day, and how we can get the necessary information into it for them.

Erik: Yeah, I know. It's certainly a proliferation of user interfaces in this world if you can spare somebody from having to open up a new one. I'm curious. I'd be remiss then if I didn't ask you your thoughts on ChatGPT, GPT-4. Because it seems to open up the potential for a new type of user interface, which is more conversational. I imagine a lot of physicians, If you're doing a surgery, or you're just helping the patient, you might not have your hands free to pick up an iPad. There might be germs, so you don't might not want to touch these things. So, a hands-free solution seems to be useful. But do you see any adoption yet of voice-based interfaces?

Scott: Healthcare normally is lagging behind. But the buzz just within CenTrak, we're all tech guys and gals at heart. And so, we love new technology. Things like ChatGPT are exciting because it allows us to start thinking, wow, how could we use that, to what you just said? Okay. I'm in a surgery. I'm gowned up, and I need to ask something or communicate something. Being able to use a tool like that from a voice-activated manner, or have it look at a situation and automate a process, I think, is where we're going to start seeing some significant advancements.

One of the most fascinating things that I've always liked to dive into in my career is the flow of patients through an organization and how someone in environmental services cleaning a room can make an impact to someone down in the emergency department because they free up a bed. Then someone can move out of the PACU. I can see where things like ChatGPT and other AI really can start looking at complex situations and automating some of those triggers within the EMR a little bit more effectively than what we're able to do right now. So, yeah, it's exciting. I'm a big consumer of it already. So, I'm looking forward to where it opens up in healthcare.

Erik: Yeah, it's a fascinating place. We did a little bit of an event the other day. The head of legal for the country from Google was there. He was basically saying, "Yeah, I really feel for the kids that are graduating from law school right now. Because I just don't need — I still need lawyers, but I don't need that many second-year law grads." There are just certain things that are going to be transformed quite quickly here. But Scott, maybe we can use that also as a jumping off point to discuss more broadly what's exciting at CenTrak. If you look over the next 12 months, next 24 months, any new solutions coming to market, new markets that you're entering? What's exciting there?

Scott: As I mentioned, we love technology. We love healthcare. Being able to think about how we can truly use technology to make healthcare more amazing, more personal for clients, is really what it's all about. I think it's important that we try and really focus on how we can make both the client — from our standpoint, the organization — as well as the patient, have an amazing experience. It's not about just layering on technology, but how that personal aspect of healthcare can still take place. That's something very important as we talk technology and we talk about things like ChatGPT. We still have to maintain that human patient and client relationship. It's just a matter of how we can maximize all of that.

And so, at CenTrak, we are certainly moving our software applications to be fully cloud-based. That was something that — it took healthcare a little while to get on board with cloud-based applications. But now it's something that we're seeing much more pulling up the road. And so, we are well on our way to having that ready. The next rollout will be us having an asset cloud-based offering. We have the workflow patient application now. The assets will be next and followed on with environmental monitoring. That's some of the software aside.

From the hardware side is where it gets really exciting. Some of my colleagues are spending a lot of time and effort building our new Bluetooth offering from a hardware standpoint. There's a lot of Bluetooth in the industry, and they're not all created equal. And so, understanding, in healthcare, that you need room level granularity for certain use cases like patient and staff workflows, especially when you're updating things like the EMR, they have to be accurate. You have to have that clinical grade or that room level locating for the data to be actionable. It can't just be where it's moving about a series of rooms where the data is not as actionable.

We have found a way and have an architecture that we're going to be sharing soon on how we're going to be able to achieve that. Right now, we can do it better than anyone in my opinion with our IR-based hardware. But the Bluetooth offerings that we are hopefully going to come out — I think it's in at the end of this calendar year — will be extremely exciting. Both from a cost perspective, it's going to open up the market for RTLS to many organizations that maybe didn't have the budgets to afford the current deployment model. It's going to also allow us to look at things in a much more unique manner because of what this technology will open up. So, I think the cloud-based software paired with our world-class services, along with this Bluetooth, is going to be a very exciting time for CenTrak in the next two years.

Erik: Fantastic. I mean, this is just an incredible mission, right? Certainly, we're not going to replace medical care practitioners. But if we can free up their time and allow them to focus on spending time with patients, and not spending time, energy, and assets and so forth, I think that's the world that we want to be moving towards. So, you guys are doing great work in that regard. Let me quickly share the website with our listeners. So, that's centrak.com. Scott, I really appreciate you taking the time to speak with us today.

Scott: Absolutely, Erik. I appreciate the opportunity to come on and share a little bit about our exciting industry. And if anyone ever has any questions, feel free to go to, as Erik said, centrak.com and we'll be happy to navigate you through this journey.

Erik: Great. Thank you, Scott.

Scott: Yeah, absolutely.


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