Texada Software is known for delivering unparalleled service to rental, construction asset management and field service companies. Upon joining the team, I embraced the mission to provide a seamless combination of technology and equipment that empowers users to help build a better universe.
Yet, few people realize that Texada was known as “Systematic Computer Services” in the 1980’s and has its roots in software for durable medical equipment distributors. Having personally spent a few years in the “construction site” of orthopedic medical devices, the fundamental driver parallels are self-evident.
Similar to the construction market, many healthcare providers are renting rather than purchasing medical equipment because they can access up-to-date technologies at a lower cost. In addition, the shift from “on-premise” to “remote” technical solutions presents similar transitional challenges.
Nevertheless, the time is now to create a marketplace for medical devices and equipment similar to that of construction equipment via business process modeling, redesign and automation that addresses the general industry challenges of knowledge gaps, hyper-communication and business process rigidity.
Business Context: Orthopedics
As an orthopedic device rep and product manager, I used to ask industry stakeholders questions (elicitation); relate needs to business requirements (analysis); structure requirements and process diagrams (specification); and confirm accuracy and completeness of specifications (validation).
What became clear is that the old model is analogous to a milkman delivering milk in a world dominated by megastores. Medical device companies, similar to their construction equipment counterparts, must move beyond traditional business models to build advantage across critical commercial functions.
Just as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) provides organizations expertise without the need for additional internal resources, AR/VR enhanced mobile/remote field service coupled with equipment sharing and utilization tracking could pave the way for accessible stable technology orthopedic platforms.
And once again, just as in SaaS deployment, such an IT implementation project should be preceded by business process redesign. The stages involved in improving a business process with the support of information technologies include business process modeling, redesign and automation.
The hard part is always determining the requirements in order to model business processes. Business requirements describe why a system is being implemented. User requirements describe what users will be able to do with the system. Both are needed in the changing landscape of the medical industry.
During the redesign phase, a comparison of functionality between an existing system and a desired new system is known as a gap analysis. Customer involvement reduces the expectation gap between what the customer really needs and what the development delivers.
The most important medical device processes to automate are similar to those we seek to improve in the construction industry: field service and technician training. Such processes can be automated by building a new system, extending an existing system, or integrating a third-party solution.
The corollary assumption in SaaS deployment has been that integration techniques like Extract, Transform, and Load (ETL) are optimal for bringing cloud technologies onsite. But these methods still face the general challenges of knowledge gaps, hyper-communication and business process rigidity.
From Knowledge to Wisdom
As one SaaS industry expert points out, “The technology is there. We just don’t have the strategic knowledge [or] know how all these pieces and parts work and play with our existing infrastructure, processes, data — all the things we have to keep track of.”
Such fragmented knowledge, in the absence of knowledge sharing, inevitably leads to the hyper-communication we find in medical device ecosystems. Essentially, people try to absorb more information than they are able to handle in order to achieve goals in connection with tasks.
One could argue that to a large extent the hyper-communication problem is due to our human nature. Medical technology has become increasingly more complex over the years. That increase in complexity was not accompanied by an increase in the cognitive capacity of human beings.
Business process rigidity ensues, which ultimately resists change due to its disruption of specialized knowledge. What we can embrace are the legendary words of Bob Dylan when thinking about process modeling and redesign en route to efficiencies reaped by automation: “the truth is just a plain picture.”