“An upgrade in our XYZ system broke the integration to ABC.”
“We will need to do assignments in two places if we want that functionality.”
“Our nurses carry two pagers and a phone because the systems don’t integrate easily.”
Do any of the above sound familiar? If so, you probably are one of the many hospitals going through the alarm management middleware selection process.
As Vice President of Innovation at Voalté, I spend a great deal of time traveling around the country talking to CIO’s, CTO’s, and Chief Nursing Officers about communication in hospitals and their alarm management strategy. One point of constant frustration seems to keep appearing in the realm of middleware alarm notification. This frustration was building when I first started Voalté about a year and a half ago, but recently it seems that it is starting to reach a tipping point.
The world of alarm management middleware in hospitals seemed to really take off due to Emergin and the concept of an Enterprise Service Bus leveraging a Service Oriented Architecture for alerts and notifications. The concept of a single source to receive alarms from a number of systems, prioritize them, and dispatch them to “the right person, at the right place, at the right time” really hit home with CIO’s and others looking to integrate disparate systems into a unified alarming system
Since the acquisition of Emergin by Philips, it seems that the market has opened up to a number of companies. The three frontrunners in the market currently appear to be:
Emergin (A Philips Company)
Comm-tech (An Amcom company)
New players, such as Intelligent Insites and Imatis, have entered the arena . In addition to the true “middleware” companies, a great deal of the previously integrated systems are building their own point-to-point connectors with other vendors. There are VoIP phone vendors that are creating proprietary direct connections to input systems, input systems companies building direct connections to phone vendors, and everything in between. The end result is a group of disparate systems and integrations with no global strategy for alarms and notification. With no open standards that have been widely adopted by input, middleware, and output companies, the confusion (and point-to-point integrations) seems to be growing.
As a service that needs to leverage these systems (its the AL in Voalté!) I am hoping things work themselves out in the next few years. The market has been created and seems to be maturing now, so it will be interesting to see where the incumbents move things and where the new players will try to drive innovation. Whether good or bad, it will at least be interesting to see where this world of alarm management middleware plays out in the next few years.