Exogen navigates healthcare informatics with Blue Ocean launch

One of the hottest trends in radiology informatics these days is facility performance monitoring, featuring tools like digital dashboards to help sites monitor their efficiency by tracking features such as technologist productivity and procedure volume. One company, Exogen, hopes to take the concept to the next level by applying it to the entire healthcare enterprise.

Exogen made a splash with two new product launches at the 2008 Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine (SIIM) meeting in Seattle: its Blue Ocean performance monitoring software and Data Certainty, a data migration application with real-time analytic capabilities. The company's executive roster includes former Emageon executive Milton Silva-Craig, who serves as president of both Exogen and its parent firm, Technology Solutions (TSC), both of which are located in Chicago.

Blue Ocean monitors in real-time up to 65 key performance indicators (KPIs) of activities, functions, and performance that can be used to measure the efficiency of a diagnostic imaging department. It is a thin-client, Web-based application that sits on an enterprise's network, grabs and compiles data, and displays it in an easy-to-visualize real-time graphical user interface. Blue Ocean is designed to prevent problems from arising within an enterprise and to rapidly identify the sources of potential issues. It also includes workflow optimization features.

Exogen based Blue Ocean's performance assessment algorithms on a study the company conducted with 30 healthcare organizations of various sizes. It determined that 60 to 65 KPIs are common to all entities, and of these, some 10 to 12 are used 90% of the time.

Silva-Craig explained that Exogen designed its initial software product for use in diagnostic imaging departments because this was a core expertise of Technology Solutions and because the operations of a radiology department impact an entire hospital. Blue Ocean also is being marketed to radiology practices operating one or more imaging centers.

A pilot version of Blue Ocean is currently being used at Aurora Health Care, a not-for-profit healthcare organization headquartered in Milwaukee, as well as at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System in Baltimore. The software is scheduled for commercial release in the third quarter of 2008.

At Aurora's St. Luke's Medical Center, results of diagnostic imaging procedures for patients who present with stroke symptoms must have a turnaround time of 45 minutes or less. Blue Ocean monitors the facility's progress in meeting this type of performance metric, issuing different levels of alerts as needed. The facility also is utilizing the software to compare scheduled versus actual times at which exams were performed for its 13 radiology departments to achieve uniform performance levels.

Exogen will offer various predefined and custom versions of Blue Ocean, according to Thanos Karras, senior vice president of marketing. Examples of types of monitoring categories include modality/room utilization, technologist utilization, patient wait times, start-to-completion exam performance, and report turnaround time.

The configurability of the software to capture and integrate data from numerous sources will enable customers to improve the patient care process, help improve department and enterprise efficiencies, and lower the overall cost of healthcare delivery, Silva-Craig said.

Exogen is building a direct sales force to sell Blue Ocean, and the company also hopes to establish OEM channel sales with PACS and other healthcare IT vendors. "We believe that it is critical to our success and the success of this product to gain market share quickly," Karras said.

Data migration

Data migration from legacy PACS networks to newer software is another industry trend, one that Exogen is targeting with its Data Certainty software. The application can interrogate a RIS and PACS database to identify what data have not been prepared for migration and what is required to "cleanse" the data.

"The ability of the software to perform the analysis prior to any transfer of data provides a hospital or imaging center with a good picture of what will transfer, what won't transfer, and what needs to be done," Silva-Craig said. "Movement of data is not unique, but the analysis, coupled with Exogen's overall services, is unique to the marketplace."

A key feature of Data Certainty is its ability to automate approximately 50% of the data reconciliation process, according to the company. In addition, data are monitored in real-time during the transfer.

Silva-Craig joined Technology Solutions in December 2006, after previously helping to build Emageon of Birmingham, AL, from its base of offering storage products and services into a PACS and advanced visualization firm. TSC originally served the manufacturing, healthcare, and financial services industries, but over the past 18 months the company has been divesting assets not associated with cash flow, and it just reported its first profitable quarter in five years.

Silva-Craig predicts that Blue Ocean is just the beginning of Exogen's expansion into the performance monitoring end of healthcare informatics.

"I think that we will see Exogen move from digital imaging into all facets of monitoring in a hospital enterprise at a brisker pace," he said.

By Cynthia Keen
AuntMinnie.com staff writer
June 18, 2008

Related Reading

Exogen unveils performance indicator tracker, May 15, 2008

TSC forms Exogen, January 10, 2008

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