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IoT

Cox boots up IoT service for hospitals

Cox Communications has taken a deeper dive into the connected healthcare arena with Cox Prosight, a new enterprise IoT product for hospitals. The service helps with the real-time location and monitoring of IV pumps and other medical equipment, rapid checks of the environmental status of operating rooms and other medical facilities and it services as a new communications conduit for hospital personnel.

Prosight, a new, national product and platform that has ties into the enterprise-facing elements of the Cox Business unit, centers on gateways that communicate with BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy)-enabled "tags" affixed to various medical equipment, locations or even on the "duress badges" of certain hospital personnel. The gateway collects that data via BLE and uses Wi-Fi to backhaul it to Prosight's cloud-based system, which then renders and visualizes that data into web applications for the hospital partners.

Real-time tracking of medical equipment is one of the primary applications for Cox Prosight.
(Source: Cox Communications)
Real-time tracking of medical equipment is one of the primary applications for Cox Prosight.
(Source: Cox Communications)

The general idea is vastly cut down manual processes by employing real-time tracking of various medical equipment, monitoring the condition of refrigerators for food or cooling systems for vaccines, and enabling hospital personnel to tap their badges to quickly and easily call for assistance or dispatch emergency support.

George Valentine, executive director of new growth and development at Cox and the company's connected health practice leader, said Prosight fit into a "digital transformation" trend underway at hospitals and their need to improve and streamline operations and to do it in a way that did not rely on relatively pricey and proprietary legacy real-time location systems.

"We didn't like what we saw out there [with legacy systems] and thought we might be able to do it better," Valentine said.

Prosight, he said, sits between the intersection of commercial IoT and connected health, and is emerging amid an "explosion of data and devices" that are now present in hospitals. In turn, those hospitals are in need of systems that can track location and movement, visualize that data and then feed it back into the hospital's operation.

Cox Prosight IoT platform can also connect the badges of hospital staff, providing them with a quick way to call for assistance.  
(Source: Cox)
Cox Prosight IoT platform can also connect the badges of hospital staff, providing them with a quick way to call for assistance.
(Source: Cox)

In a typical deployment, Cox Prosight would start with the blueprint of the building and conduct a site survey to determine where the gateways would need to be placed and installed. "Once that sensing layer is up, we're able to build on these additional use cases," Valentine said.

Early IoT action

Cox is just now taking Prosight to market, unveiling it at this week's Healthcare Information & Management Systems Society (HIMSS) conference in Las Vegas. But Cox has already secured a sizable trial with Ochsner Lafayette General in Lafayette, Louisiana, which is currently using Prosight to track about 2,700 pieces of equipment, 2,700 staff and 200 environmental sensors.

"We have a very full pipeline already," Valentine said when asked about other trials or deployments of Prosight that are already underway. "We are adding team members on a weekly basis as we scale up this opportunity."

Prosight is the latest major enterprise IoT development at Cox. Cox2M, a unit launched in 2018, provides enterprise IoT services for markets such as smart cities, agriculture and automotive lot management. Both Cox2M and Cox Prosight were born out of Cox's new growth and development organization.

Cox2M and Cox Prosight share some platform resources, but Prosight, as an operation, is laser-focused on the healthcare industry, which has unique workflows and regulatory, compliance and security requirements.

"We need to have that domain expertise … to ensure that we're serving them effectively," Valentine said. "Our belief is there that you just have to go deep to be successful in healthcare. It's not a part-time hobby."

Cox Prosight is also the latest example of the company's push into connected healthcare technology and services. In 2015, Cox acquired Trapollo, a company focused on personal care and remote patient monitoring.

Trapollo "is part of our overall connected health strategy," Valentine said.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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