In this episode of the IoT For All Podcast, Centrak President and CEO David Minning joins us to talk about IoT’s role in the healthcare space, both during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. David shares his expertise on some of the technologies used in healthcare today, like RTLS, some of the challenges IoT faces in healthcare, and where it’s going from here.
David Minning brings more than 30 years of healthcare experience to his role as CenTrak’s President and CEO. Prior to joining CenTrak, Minning served in leadership positions as President and CEO at Bio-Chem Fluidics; Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer at FXI; and Vice President of Marketing and Innovation at Hillrom. He holds an MBA from the University of Cincinnati.
Interested in connecting with David? Reach out to him on Linkedin!
About Centrak: CenTrak has been a market leader in IoT-based locating, sensing, and security services for the healthcare industry since 2007. Named a visionary in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for indoor location services, CenTrak helps healthcare leaders across the globe increase productivity, reduce operating costs, and drive patient and staff satisfaction.
Key Questions and Topics from this Episode:
(00:32) Intro to David Minning
(02:00) How have you seen COVID-19 affect the market for Centrak?
(03:02) Intro to Centrak
(06:17) Where do you see IoT’s role evolving in healthcare?
(08:24) What is RTLS and what benefits does it enable in hospital settings?
(10:23) What challenges do you encounter, implementing these solutions in medical or hospital settings?
(12:09) Have these technologies helped hospitals bridge the gap during the pandemic?
(14:05) If a company is looking to partner with providers offering single-source solutions, what should they be considering? What are the advantages of choosing a partner with a more focused solution?
(21:00) What are some challenges listeners might not have thought about as they start their IoT journey? What’s your advice for approaching that process?
(23:46) What are your predictions for the healthcare space, RTLS, and the IoT landscape for 2021?
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– [Ryan] Hello everyone welcome to another episode of the IoT for our podcast on the IoT for all media network. I’m your host, Ryan Chacon one of the co-creators of IoT for all. Now, before we jump into this episode, please don’t forget to subscribe on your favorite podcast platform or join our newsletter at IoT fraud.com/newsletter to catch all the newest episodes as soon as they come out. So without further ado please enjoy this episode of the IoT for all podcast. Welcome. David’s the IoT for all show. Thanks for being here today.
– [David] Thank you Ryan’s its my pleasure.
– [Ryan] Yea it’s great to have you. You want to start off by just giving a quick background kind of introduction to yourself. So our audience gets a little bit more Familiar with you.
– [David] Yeah, sure ah My name is Dave Minning and I assume the CEO role here at CenTrak back in April taking over for, Ari Naim our brilliant founder of CenTrak. He and three other started CenTrak in 2007 and saw explosive growth in recent years. And I wouldn’t say I matched a typical CEO CEO profile of a healthcare technology company after spending the previous eight years ah in a private equity portfolio company a manufacturing company, doing a transformation and resulting in a sale, but I but I really developed my medical device experience during my 12 years at Hill-Rom, you know leading med tech company led a strategic marketing and product development efforts there. And, you know, the experience of Hill-Rom truly opened my eyes to the opportunity to improve the operating efficiencies and hospitals and lowering costs through people process and technology and improving the patient experience. It was a really formative career for me and really developed my passion around healthcare. It was a great opportunity for me to join CenTrak. my role here at CenTrak is obviously to continue that growth that they’ve seen in the last few years but equally important is to scale the company and deliver new innovation either organically or through acquisitions.
– [Ryan] That’s great. How so I’m just curious, how have you seen kind of the the pandemic kind of displaying in the market as it relates to, to what you all do?
– [David] Yeah, that’s an excellent question. What, you know, obviously the most impactful thing about the, the pandemic and especially in its early stages was literally hospitals were not letting any you know so-called vendors in. You know they we’re basically head down dealing with the crisis in front of them but what the pandemic did do is it underscored and highlighted some of the inefficiencies, you know just at its most basic level, Ryan how do you get the right equipment at the right time to the right people in an urgent manner? You know their capacity was so constrained by their, by their their COVID protocols that everything kind of slowed down. And, and for us that is just a highlighted need for you know, our solutions to improve that efficiency, to to pro.. to improve the awareness of where things work critical devices are to treat their patients.
– [Ryan] Gotcha. Okay. Then before we dive into that a little bit more can you give a high level overview of kind of what CenTrak’s focus is? Obviously we’ve already alluded to the healthcare side, the, the, you know the tracking side of hospital equipment, but just, you know for our audience’s sake, what does CenTrak do? What role do you all play in IoT and how does that all fit together?
– [David] Yeah, so I guess to keep it real simple and non-technical you can think of our solution is kind of an indoor GPS systems primarily for hospitals, which is the majority of our business. You know, 90% of our businesses is in acute care hospitals, but, you know CenTrak has been a leader in RTLS IoT based locating sensing and security solutions, you know since 2007, as I mentioned, but, you know, we we basically began as kind of a device manufacturer, just you know, creating these really cool sensors, but we’ve we’ve moved into this end to end solution incorporating some of the software solutions that we’ve acquired. And you know, that with that with that allows us to do is to offer this full set of integrated solutions to hospitals that are looking at enterprise wide solutions. And, and I’ll tell you Ryan One of the things that is happening as you since you mentioned, COVID is a lot of the decision-making for these technology investments are starting to happen at the corporate level as some of these hospitals consolidate. So their scrutiny on ROI is just absolutely on steroids, if you will. So you’ve got a really, really proven solution. So we felt that just being only a hardware provider with cool technology and, you know being agnostic was not enough. We have to be really focused on an integrated software solution as well as the processes that helped them realize their ROI.
– [Ryan] Absolutely. Yeah. I think that’s a great approach. And on that same note, when it comes to solutions are there any use cases or kind of applications of your technology that you’re able to talk about here just to kind of connect all the dots and bring it back to like some real world examples?
– [David] Sure can. so I guess the, the most obvious in terms of pure ROI that you can get your head around is after tracking and asset management where you’re literally tagging all the, you know thousands of assets in a hospital. And what that does is it provides visibility to what’s clean what’s in use, you know what needs to be clean, what’s available to the patients so that they’re not overbuying or over renting equipment. So there’s a real demonstrative return on investment. If you deploy our technology, it’s really easy to sell. And that’s, that’s the largest use case that we have here at CenTrak. But then if you take it a little further, the more relevant to COVID, you know, our hand hygiene solution, it really what that does is enables healthcare leaders to identify you know, system-wide trends and spot irregularities on their compliance. They can use that data to coach their caregivers and boost those compliance rate to keep their patients health healthy. And what we’ve seen in three of our facilities that using CenTrak’s hand hygiene solution really boosted their compliance for hand-washing by 45%. So it’s a real, real improvement that we can see. So those are just a couple of use cases that I think are really relevant today’s time.
– [Ryan] Absolutely David thanks for sharing those. So let’s take a step back and talk a little bit more about just IoT’s role in healthcare in emerging applications such as the contact tracing and mapping way finding and those kinds of situations can you talk a little bit just high-level about how you see IoT playing a role in across the board in healthcare and where you see in addition to the solutions and the use cases you’ve already discussed where you see real big opportunity for, for IoT to kind of play a role In, in just the general applications apply to the healthcare space.
– [David] Yeah. So, you know, without getting an use case specific and just understanding the date when it’s available is you know, through this data you can do some analytics which really leads to some real insights to caregiving. So the more data and the tools that you make available to your hospitals to show what’s going on in their facility you know, the better value they’re gonna sign to their investment and what, what we think our role in IoT is to be able to, you know, either make acquisitions or build the expertise, to have those data analytics and provide them in a very user-friendly format and an actionable format that allows those administrators to improve their operations. And, you know, that can be around assets moving. It can be around patient flow and patients moving caregivers the way they do their business. so all of this data really is, is valuable, but you know, again, as a hardware provider you can’t be that expert because you have to rely on other systems and other other tools that other companies are providing. We feel we’re gonna play a really good role as we’ve made these acquisitions of software and data analytics tools. And we’re starting to think about a service that we’re going to provide for, you know clinical consulting and providing some insights into these these data tools that really will help the hospitals you know, see the value in what CenTrak has to offer.
– [Ryan] Absolutely, that’s fantastic. One of the, one of the things you’ve you’ve mentioned a couple of times throughout this conversation is that, the, to be able to, the asset tracking Piece location services kind of and we’ve heard the term RTLS many times. Can you take our audience through, what RTLS actually is, what it means and the benefits of it, kind of in a little bit more detail than we’ve already kind of high-level mentioned here in in the hospital setting
– [David] Yeah. So, you know, RTLS is kind of a general term but what makes CenTrak RTLS unique is this what we call clinical grade location and how it does as we use a multiple frequency architecture and our technology, we use, you know, our our patented and proprietary infrared based technology which is called gen two IRR. So basically obviously, you know, beams of light that come out of devices, but we also use active and passive RFID, Bluetooth, and wifi and even ultrasound because every hospital is different hospitals have different architectures and technologies that allow them to locate specifically within let’s say a three meter radius. So that becomes really, really important in certain news cases obviously to have that clinical grade. So that’s what we feel is unique about us and what also is really great about, you know our solution is we have, you know, our data, you know exist on premise, you know for the hospitals that have their servers on prem. On-prem what they call it, but it’s also cloud-based. So as we move to a cloud base we can do a lot more remote diagnostics or remote data collection and analytics. So the whole thing ties together. So you start with this great technology which is broadly defined as RTLS real-time locating systems but it really, ours is truly differentiated because we use a multi-mode architecture to make sure that precision is, is paramount to our value proposition.
– [Ryan] So I’m curious as you have worked in a probably a number of different hospitals settings what does that environment lend itself to as far as challenges that may come across the implementation of the technology and the solution as you kind of interact with different facilities?
– [David] Yeah. I mean, clearly, you know, it’s a chaotic environment. There is, staff turnover that happens. And so at the essence of the biggest challenge is getting you know, adoption training and engagement. And I use that term engagement purposely because part of the, the value proposition of our managed services offering that we’re going to be releasing next year is actually going to be called engage. And it’s really addressing those challenges that we see of these, of the adoption of technologies. I mean, you can probably think of many examples, Ryan, where, you know there’s technologies that are built, you know, bought either in your own personal life or businesses that just get there. There’s a high excitement level, but they get underutilized because either the supplier doesn’t make it a great consumer experience, if you will or there just weren’t the resources deployed to adequately train and retrain. So that’s what we’re going to be focused on. So that, that headwind to success is really what we’re funds set are trying to trying to deal with as a company so that we can continue to grow. Because if I, if I can say, you know we’re kind of at this crossing the chasm moment as CenTrak where obviously the early adopters bought it there’s been some, you know rapid growth but wide-scale adoption has yet to occur. We’re only penetrated in just over a thousand hospitals. So we think there’s a lot of runway left to really get this thing widespread.
– [Ryan] So as we kind of connect the dots from what we’ve been talking about on the healthcare or the RTLS side as it relates to IoT, and then also the pandemic I’m curious to just get a sense of how IoT and RTLS have been helping healthcare facilities address the pandemic specifically rather than just the high level benefits of RTLS and, and in the healthcare space. But specifically as we connected to COVID and the pandemic that’s happening Now, what have been the benefits of being able to utilize that technology in that setting?
– [David] So, I mean, obviously at the core of contact tracing is knowing location. So, you know, the, the pandemic being, you know nine months into this thing, you know I don’t think I can readily rattle off like, okay hospital X has really utilized, you know RTLS to solve this issue that for you even using for contact tracing, but the recent inquiries now that the hospitals have been able to take a breath you know, now they’re starting to say, Hey, we, we we modeled our way through this, right? We’re, we’re going to be better prepared next time. Cause there will be a next time and that’s that’s the things that’s happening most. So the conversation around asset tracking and and and caregiver efficiency is being subordinated by, Hey we need better visibility to infected patients who they’re coming in contact with. We need better hand hygiene compliance because obviously that’s at the core of, of spreading infections. So the conversation has shifted to more of an infection prevention conversation versus a an asset management. So, you know, I can’t give you specific examples yet but I’m just telling you the conversations I’m having with hospitals are that.
– [Ryan] Yeah, Okay. That makes a lot of sense. I’d be curious, like maybe later on next year having to come back and just tell us a little bit more in detail when you can share those details. I think it’ll be a little exciting. So if, if you have listeners out there kind of getting a sense of not only what you all do, but how this all applies to the healthcare space. I’m sure there’s a lot of listeners who are very interested in kind of exploring this. What advice do you have for organizations or individuals out there looking to kind of work with an IoT vendor with more of a single source solution? Like what are the advantages of doing that? What should they be kind of thinking about as they’re engaging with a brand like yours and what does that usually look like from your end?
– [David] Well, I think, you know the term single source is appropriate because you want you know, one neck to choke if something goes wrong. But I think it’s important for me to mention that, you know even though we have proprietary technology and we have a suite of software solutions now we remain an open architecture platform. So, you know, whatever the best of breed, you know, for ins for example, software solution that the hospital is used to and they want to use for, for, for example, asset tracking they can use that. We don’t preclude the customer choice at all but we do promote the value of having kind of a one-stop shop if that’s what the customer feels is they want. So before we relied on total total reliance on partners and other software vendors now we can actually offer something that and give and give the customer a choice. And I think that’s going to be important because, you know honestly with technology deployments in hospitals it is amaze of confusion and chaos. When you’re trying to, you know when you’re trying to integrate with your your EMR, you know, your, your hospital HRI system all these different platforms they have is it it becomes an integrated, you know nightmare trying to project manage. So we like to pride ourselves on having a really solid project manager. Who’s kind of taking the headache away from hospitals. So to the extent that we can do that better and almost a consumerism RTLS if you like that term, make it simple. And that’s what we’re going to focus on. I think that would be the advice I would say is find that find the, find the vendor that makes it the easiest you know, to do business with
– [Ryan] I would say one of the easy, one of the ways that you would make it easier is by understanding all the different potential technologies that can play into the implementation of a solution to provide not just the ROI for the customer but also a successful launch and deployment of the solution to achieve their goals. So when it comes to, you know, having the choice of multiple technologies like Bluetooth wifi, infrared, you know, you name it to match, to a certain facility to a certain news case to help kind of balance that you know, precision and affordability. How do you all go about selecting the correct technology? And, you know, I guess, could you also explain to our audience the benefit of working with a technology partner to provide those recommendations on technology use and why that’s so important.
– [David] Yeah, I mean, knowing knowing what your, what the infrastructure you’re dealing with but before I specifically answered that question I think I’d given in terms of an example, we just, we are we have just released a product called True-View and True-View was specifically targeted for senior care market where, you know, obviously the cost is more of an issue in that, in that segment. And they don’t have the sophisticated IT infrastructure. So it was really built around, you know, focusing on their existing wifi technology, incorporating some plug and play BLE technology to get you, you know location-based accuracy, but at a much more affordable price for those, you know, facilities that, you know can’t afford the millions of dollars, you know for deployment in senior care is perfect for that. We’re also, you know, looking at that solution for our international expansion because as you know, price points, you know in an international markets are much lower than in the in the United States. And you know they’re not going to be able to afford as much. So being able to flex down on the architecture in terms of matching what’s available to them without significant additional investment on their part for architecture is really key to cover all those price points, you know, continuous.
– [Ryan] Yeah, that’s great. we found that with most, not most listeners but most companies, you know that are looking to adopt IoT solutions. The decision on the technology part is very overwhelming. You know, there’s lot of different components. There’s a lot of news don’t know where to start right? So, so we’ve seen great success when an organization is very knowledgeable about the different technologies available to the particular use case and can not only help them choose the right one but also educate them on as to why certain technologies are not the right fit that they may have read about and think are the right fit. And there there’s a lot of different pieces to that puzzle that, you know, often a a roadblock that stops companies for even going down the, the IoT adoption path. And I think the more companies that are knowledgeable about that and can share that expertise the better we’re going to be as an industry as a whole.
– [David] Yeah we, look we have, we have great partners that help us out in doing some of this I’ll call pre-assessment before you make the recommendation you’re gathering the information from the customer understanding their needs and really matching the solution. You know, we pride ourselves in not trying to jam our customers with the technology solution without really fully assessing. And when we rely on partners to do that, and we and we’ve got some excellent partners that are out there helping us in this journey, because, you know we’re still relatively small, but I’s well enough to service the, you know, the big hospital clients. And we rely on our partners to do a lot of that upfront leg work. And that’s one of the key initiatives that, you know I’m going to be driving is how do we develop a, you know an even better partner network, maybe fewer but better and more qualified that are more consultative and more engaged with that, with that hospital client base.
– [Ryan] Yeah, I, you know, IoT is viewed very heavily as a partner centric ecosystem and too many companies, in my opinion, just go all in on the partner side where they just get as many partners as they physically possibly can to show that, Hey we have a deep partner network, but in reality I think it’s more about choosing the correct partners to to compliment what it is that, you know you as an organization is doing at the core and where your core expertise lies. And I think oftentimes that’s not the approach. And, and it creates a lot of confusion for customers who are looking to pick the right vendor to work with.
– [David] There is no question that that’s, that was the approach of a soundtrack in the early days is, you know, sign up the partners, you know, put it on your web, the majors their criteria, but we’ve gotten mature enough to say, look we, we want the best of breed on our partner base. And maybe there’s ultimately gonna be, you know just 10 to 15 instead of, you know, 200 we think that’s the right place to go.
– [Ryan] Yeah, I totally agree with you. One of the last question that I want to ask you before we wrap up here is just regarding other challenges that we may not have alluded to or talked about yet in this discussion that you’ve come across through the development of the technologies or the deployment of certain applications and solutions, you know, what what are some challenges that maybe listeners out there will not think about as they kind of start their IoT journey that you guys have encountered enough to learn best practices on how to navigate around and avoid, and just your general advice for kind of approaching that process?
– [David] You know, I would say humbly that that is a work in process on our part that we have Ryan is, you know technology is changing so much when you talk about you know, Cisco versus Aruba and all the different platforms out there and moving from on-prem to a cloud based solution things are happening so fast that our biggest challenges is being able to prioritize on all those platforms, because, you know just like every other company, whether you’re you know, you’re, you’re manufacturing, you know food products or you’re manufacturing technology you have to have an end, a new product development roadmap and you have to make trade-offs so understanding where the trends are going. You know, the big trend has been, you know BLE it’s the Bluetooth technologies. Do we need to be on top of that? How do you make that assessment? How do you make your bets on the next technology? So, one of the things I want to do Ryan is, I want to make sure that if we, as a technology company are going to get disrupted we do it ourselves. We, we have to disrupt ourselves. I know that’s pretty cliche these days, but, you know we have some really really talented people that have given that given the opportunity to be segregated and think about how do we put CenTrak out of business. we’re gonna do that because it’s best for the customer it’s best for our future of our business. So my advice to any company in this space or any other technology space is do your best to try and disrupt yourself and, and don’t be afraid of it.
– [Ryan] Yeah. I, I was actually as you were saying to disrupt yourself, I was saying so I was thinking in my head basically to put yourself out of business and then you said it and it’s something that I’ve heard before. And like you said, it can be come off very cliche, but if if you take the other approach and it does any, you know you actually do it and you don’t, it’s not, you know just words to, to sound like, you know what you’re talking about and try to sound encouraging. You actually try to put yourself out of business and disrupt your own technologies. I think it’s a very great path to true disruption in the market and to create a real competitive advantage for not only yourselves, but your customers. I think it’s something that’s important, then a lot of organizations just talk about, but don’t actually do so if you’re able to actually do that, that’s fantastic.
– [David] Yeah. And that’s that’s why I was so excited to take this role because this going to be a lot of fun doing that.
– [Ryan] Yeah, absolutely. So the last thing I want to ask you before we finish here is just your thoughts on we’re ending 2020 going into 2021. What are you expecting to see or hoping to see happen in the IoT space, in the healthcare space, the RTLS space? like, what are the, you know what are you kind of predicting is going to be be happening next year, looking forward to happening next year that we should be on the lookout for?
– [David] Well, I think from a market standpoint, I think there’s there’s pent up demand. That’s, that’s happening once, as I mentioned earlier you know, once the hospitals are able to take a breath assess and do their postmortems on what they experienced during this crisis, they’re going to really scrutinize their investments in technology. And I think the winners are going to be those that make it simple, make it the ROI clear and make the implementation process seamless and less confusing. So to the extent, as we talked about just kind of as a summary when you get full engagement of the hospital personnel on your solution, you train your retrain, you you provide data insights through great analytics. I think that’s gonna be the future. It’s not going to be as much as the technology as much as the analytics insights that you’re going to be providing to your customer base.
– [Ryan] Yeah. I think that’s going to be a big separator because the technology is going to, you know its getting to a point where it’s not I don’t wanna say run of the mill, but, you know, it’s it’s very well positioned for particular use cases. Now, what can you actually do with it? And can you produce those analytics and that data to make it worth the venture for these organizations and whoever does that the best I think is going to be in a really good spot to win. So, so I’m very much in line with that thinking last thing anything exciting interesting kind of coming out of the CenTrak side of things going or now or next year that we should kind of let our audience know about or keep an eye out for. And then at the same time, if they have any questions or any follow up, what’s the best way to engage with you all
– [David] So I would say, keep an eye on our next release which is going to be our way-finding mobile app.
– [David] Believe it or not, there’s millions of dollars wasted for you know, patients missing appointments, trying to navigate these complex campuses, sprawling campuses. So a mobile way-finding app is going to be released by CenTraks very soon obviously to learn more about our, our solutions. Overall, we have a great website then updated with our new leadership team, our new mission. We’re excited about some of the new releases coming out for our solutions. And then certainly, you know, as we become more of a a managed services organization, you can be assured that we’re going to put the full force of great people behind the investments that our customers make.
– [Ryan] That’s fantastic. Well, David, it’s been great. Great talking to you, appreciate you sharing some insights into what you all are doing. We’ll make sure that we link up, you know CenTrak website, contact form, all that kind of good stuff so that our audience can engage with you all going forward. And again, I really appreciate your time. Your insights are fantastic and hopefully next year I’ll be able to have you back to talk a little bit more about what do you have going on. And some of those things you could allude to but not necessarily talk about in detail would be great to kind of hear insights into what you’ve been learning and how you’re seeing things develop.
– [David] Ryan has been my pleasure and be safe.
– Thank you, you too.
– Take care.
– Thanks again for joining us this week on the IoT for all podcast. I hope you enjoyed this episode. And if you did, please leave us a rating or review and be sure to subscribe to our podcasts on whichever platform you’re listening to us on. Also, if you have a guest you’d like to see on the show please drop us a note at [email protected] and we’ll do everything we can to get them as a future guest. Other than that, thanks again for listening. And we’ll see you next time.