Features

Murali Balakrishnan – TIDI Products

Big data, better safety

The nurse just left the room, but rather than bug her with another request, you’re feeling strong enough to get up and grab the magazine yourself. You lower the safety bars and, and as you swing your feet over the side and scoot to the edge of the bed, a sense of panic ensues: You’re about to fall.

Bracing for what feels like the inevitable, you hear the door open, followed by the sound of quickly moving feet. It’s the nurse, and she got here in the nick of time.

Murali Balakrishnan – TIDI Products Toggle Magazine

You ask her how she knew to come back. Turns out, the bed has been outfitted with TIDI’s Posey brand bed sensors and alarms that alert nursing staff whenever a major shift in weight occurs.

“We have sensors embedded in a number of our fall prevention products we sell that helps keep patients safe,” explains Murali Balakrishnan, chief information officer for TIDI® Products, the company behind the technology. “One of our major areas of focus is improving patient safety. You’ll never be able to prevent every fall, but the more you prevent, the better it is for everyone.”

Information age

Headquartered in Neenah, Wisconsin, TIDI’s vast product suite includes everything from hospital gowns and bedding to protective headwear and sterilization supplies.

But it’s the company’s growing array of embedded technologies—such as the sensors in chairs and beds, as well as room alarms—that’s quickly creating a niche, one that Balakrishnan and his team are finding ways to advance.

In an effort to promote more robust safety programs within its customers’ facilities, TIDI offers a program designed to leverage the company’s products.

Known as SAFE (short for Survey, Analyze, Facilitate and Evaluate), the program assesses current practices and interventions at the facility and compares them to national best practices, helping health care providers with education and training that promotes compliance and enhances patient safety outcomes.

“What we’re doing is understand our customer’s falls goal and provide a customized recommendation on specific actions to be taken, provide training on the use of relevant Posey® Fall Management products and measure effectiveness of the program on an ongoing basis,” Balakrishnan explains. “Once the program is put in place, the benefits can be immediate.”

Keen insights

While programs such as SAFE have proved useful in maximizing customer outcomes related to patient safety, thanks to technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and big data, TIDI is able to analyze troves of data from different sources. The goal, Balakrishnan says, is to better understand the needs of their customers—particularly in the acute care and patient safety markets—so they can be proactive in providing the right solution.

Murali Balakrishnan – TIDI Products Toggle Magazine

Using AI algorithms, TIDI is able to create rules to cleanse and connect disparate sources of data to create a comprehensive view of its customers, correlating their needs with TIDI’s products and providing valuable insight to the company’s commercial teams.

More broadly, AI gives his team a window into the company’s future: which hospitals will have the greatest demand for specific TIDI products, what regions are ripe for further market penetration and extend these insights into how the company can optimize operational costs and improve its supply chain.

Serve and protect

Still, big data is nothing if not a double-edged sword; once you have it, it’s on you to protect it. As such, cybersecurity has become one of Balakrishnan’s most pressing responsibilities.

“The health care sector has become a huge ecosystem, and we’re a part of that,” he says. “It’s not enough that hospitals build these huge firewalls to protect themselves, because all it takes is one crack in one organization for someone’s security to be exposed.”

As a member of Healthcare and Public Sector Coordinating Councils’ (HSCC) Cybersecurity Working Group (CWG), an initiative launched by a consortium of public and private health care industry stakeholders, Balakrishnan is assisting with the development of a Cybersecurity Framework Implementation Guide for the health care sector.

The guide is intended to help providers implement a sound cybersecurity program regardless of the organization’s size, while helping them assess and improve cyber resiliency and how they link to the sector’s broader security, privacy and risk management activities.

Internally, Balakrishnan has established a cybersecurity program aimed at improving critical infrastructure, as outlined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Data for days

Critical as cybersecurity is, however, Balakrishnan says it’s hardly hindered his team’s knack for big ideas.

Two areas where Balakrishnan sees tremendous potential are the internet of things (better known as IoT) and robotics, both of which have the potential to improve the efficiency and safety of the company’s manufacturing operations.

Murali Balakrishnan – TIDI Products Toggle Magazine

According to Balakrishnan, data from IoT—which can be used to monitor how a machine or appliance is performing—will allow TIDI to better identify indicators to schedule preventive maintenance and parts replacements, thereby minimizing production down time.

The company is also piloting a robotics solution that will deploy robots to the production floor for tasks like picking parts, making boxes and palletizing boxes. Such measures, Balakrishnan says, will help the company address common injuries related to manual and repetitive activities.

“We in IT have a real opportunity to build an innovative, scalable and flexible technology platform to take the company into the future,” Balakrishnan says. “We’re thrilled to be a part of this transformation.”

Published on: June 25, 2019

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