What's in this episode?
Season 1, Episode 12: This episode will focus on new functionality in the Connectiv 8.0 release,including Request Management, Customer Management, and Integration with Accruent Data Insights.
Welcome to the Healthcare Chats podcast where your hosts, Al Gresch and Mike Zimmer, will bring you insights to take your HTM and HFM from the basement to the boardroom. Healthcare Chats podcast starts now.
Al Gresch:Today, we're going to be talking about the 8.0 release of Connectiv, which includes Request Management, but there's more to it than that. Isn't there Seth? Tell us a little bit about, first of all, yourself and then we'll introduce Margaret as well, but then talk about what's in 8.0 that our customers should be excited about.
Seth Toepfer: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks, Al, thanks Mike for giving us the time. A big fan of these podcasts and very excited to be part of one for sure. So a little bit more about me, my background, as Al mentioned, I'm the Senior Manager and Product Managerfor our portfolio of healthcare products at Fresh. I've been at Fresh for roughly eight years now. Several of those years in the recent past have been directly in the Product Management space, but I've got a nice even mix of experience in software in general and support organizations, quality assurance organizations in engineering, which I really feel gives me a nice, well rounded approach to product management. Most recently, I transitioned into healthcare about a year ago—before that I was in the industry of telecom, which is another one that we support here at Accruent, but definitely looking forward to some continued excellence that we've already started to realize in the product. And as you alluded to Al, we've got my Senior Product Manager for the Connectiv Product here, Margaret. You want to go ahead and give yourself a little intro there, Margaret.
Margaret Nardini:Sure. As Seth said, I am the Senior Product Manager for Connectiv. I have been with Fresh for just a few months, since November of last year, working on this product. I have lots of healthcare experience working in healthcare IT for different organizations. So, it's exciting to be working with Connectiv product, it's a great product, lots to offer our customers.
Mike Zimmer:Awesome. Now, for anybody listening that hasn't heard about Connectiv before, because we typically stay away from the technology and the solutions themselves. But, this is kind of a neat episode because we get to talk about some of the new capabilities we're bringing to market. Seth and/or Margaret, if you guys could sum up what Connectiv is, and maybe a couple of the differentiators that separate it from other solutions of the same ilk in both our portfolio as well as other solutions providers.
Seth Toepfer:Yeah, absolutely. I'll start with that. And Margaret, you can fill in if I misstate or understate anything. So, Accruent as a software company is traditionally a very acquisitive company. We acquire products and companies through acquisition, and it was, I believe around four years ago when we got into the healthcare space with our first acquisition. Flash forward to today, and we actually have three primary products that we consider effective CMMS in the healthcare space. One of which is Connectiv.
You may have heard of those other two products. They go by the names of TMS and AssetEnterprise, and all three of them represent a robust service offering from a healthcare-specific software perspective. Now, the differentiation gets into things like technology platform and longevity where TMS and Asset Enterprise are much more mature products with longer tails of history. The Connectiv Product is actually very exciting. It was our most recent acquisition, roughly two and a half years ago. And we're very excited to continue seeing the value of Connectiv because first of all, it's built on the Accruent platform, which brings a lot of robust capabilities to a piece of software. Even if you don't go very far beyond the simple usability aspects of the software. But when you combine the usability excellence of Accruent with the healthcare expertise contained by the people who built the application and by the people who now run and develop the application, it's really a win, win situation.
So, when I say I'm the manager over multiple products, Connectiv is really our flagship product. So we are most interested in terms of investments and feature development and keeping up with the latest and greatest technology, which is that much more effective given that we also have a robust partnership with Accruent. It's not as if we're building homegrown solutions. So from that perspective, a lot of great things that can come from Connectiv, not only like I mentioned, usability, andtime to develop is very quick in my experience compared to some other products and you just achieve the next level of stability and things like integration capabilities that just come naturally with the Accruent platform that may take us time to achieve on the other application. So that's kind of the long and short of it. And the high-level sales pitch. Now, all three applications offer a great experience from a healthcare CMMS perspective, but Connectiv, we just feel has the longevity and the potential of well above and beyond the other products. And we're essentially very heavily focused on making it even more successful than it already is.
Al Gresch:The thing I really like, and you just heard this yourself in a meeting that we ran earlier today with ServiceNow being ranked number one in the Forbes most innovative company list in 2018. We can leverage all of that innovation in the products that we develop and push out to our customers both in the general platform and mobile applications. So it's exponentially increasing our own development team by being built on that platform. Right?
Mike Zimmer:Right. It's like building a house, but you already have all the materials and the tools necessary to build whatever you might want.
Seth Toepfer: Absolutely. And you know, we're always aware of what we call the healthcare ecosystem when we're developing software, which Maintenance Management and CMMS or Enterprise Asset Management, however you call it is honestly still just a piece of that healthcare ecosystem. So the integration capability of Accruent is a great leg up in that vein, as well as a lot of our organizations, we talk to whether existing customers or prospects already have a footprint on Accruent. It's got a very nice footprint in the IT organization space. So having an application that's built on Accruent, means there's a lot of interoperability between departments and teams that you can get naturally from Connectiv that you might have to achieve through manual integrations or data feeds between other systems. So again, achieving that one team, one system cohesive experience across an organization is another benefit we can see from Connecting on Accruent.
And another thing I'd like to add is that because it's on the Accruent platform, there's a lot of configurability that you don't have with other products where you might have to go back to Accruent to ask them to update something or to create a new facility or lots of different things that... You have the option to do that inside of your own version of Connectiv. Makes it very easy to do things like that.
Mike Zimmer:Yeah, totally, totally agree. And that's been my experience with the product too. And Seth, you had mentioned that CMMS functionality or our asset management is just but a piece of the puzzle and what's going on within our industry today. And I agree with you, it is a piece of the puzzle, but it seems as time goes on, it becomes an increasingly larger piece of the puzzle because there are all these peripheral departments that interact with the teams that the people that listen to this are in charge of leading where IT is now coming to clinical engineering directors and saying, "Hey, we've got to start solving for the cybersecurity around in medical devices."
And then of course the natural jump cognitively is to, "Okay, well, we need to track that in a CMMS." So gone are the days where it's just, "We need a work order program." Or something like that. Seth that part of me misses those days because things were a little bit easier to address. But as this becomes an increasingly larger piece of the pie within healthcare organizations, we kind of stumble into new areas where we can build out some really interesting functionality and deliver even more value to our customers. And if you're not picking up on the vibe, this is what we call Accruent in the biz. So, we're also here to talk about request management.
Now we did an episode. I think it was a podcast episode, not a webinar, about Request Management. This might sound a little dramatic, but a philosophical approach to what Request Management is, what are the positive outcomes of having a really well implemented lean process around request management. We always take up people, process technology approach to doing things for our customers and so I'm about to turn it back over to Seth and Margaret. I promise I'm not going to ramble on for the entire time we're together. But Request Management as we call it is the solution aspect. Is the technology part of that people process technology approach we took. So with that being said, Seth and Margaret, the floor is yours. You know, people listening to this, why should they be excited about Request Management?
What is this going to be able to accomplish for them within their day to day operations?
Seth Toepfer:Yeah. Great. I'll probably let Margaret do the majority of the talking, but I did just want to let you know, latch onto your seamless segue transition there. Some folks in the industry or even, having a previous view of things like the Connectivroadmap or other roadmaps of products within Accruent, may have heard this term equipment distribution. So I just wanted to set the context there, if you've heard that, Request Management is above and beyond equipment distribution. As Margaret will get into, the problem we're solving for, the solution we're providing, goes beyond just the fulfillment and distribution of requests that are equipment centric. We also cover things that are environmental or service related. Whether it's cleaning or facilities oriented. So the moniker Request Management, we feel has gone up a level, a little more generic, but also means it covers much more functionally where some of our competitors in space or others who may be developing things in parallel are very focused on equipment distribution piece.
So, and we even have some solutions that are incumbent in specifically our Asset Enterprise products called I Need It. So for those of you who may be familiar with that,Request Management is not a repeat of, I Need It, it is above and beyond, it's covering use cases, but also expanding them and doing so with all the bells and whistles that come along with the Connectiv application on service now. So just providing that bit of context now I'll go ahead and let Margaret talk all the smart words around Request Management. So feel free to take your on point.
Margret:Thank you, Seth. Yes. So Request Management is basically the management of any request that a staff person in a hospital may have. The good thing about our solution is that it is designed for health care organizations. So we kept that in mind when we were developing the processes and the workforce and everything like that. So hospital staff is busy and their primary focus should be patient care, not the fact that they need to clean up or they need something delivered to them. Or some piece of equipment needs to be repaired. The idea behind Request Management is it can go into a portal, enter a request, hit submit when their request is routed to the proper department to take care of that request. So whether it's equipment distribution, some sort of service or repair, all of that gets taken care of with Request Management. So we are very excited about it. I think it is really going to be a game-changer for a lot of our customers
Al Gresch:And Margaret it's not just routing it to the proper department, but getting down to the detail of the person that would be—
Margret:The person. Right.
Al Gresch:—accountable for delivering that service, whatever it might be. Right?
Margret:Right. Part of excitement
Al Gresch:Right. And I want to expand on something that Seth talked about, that this isn't just a replication of. I Need It. And Margaret, if you could share with us the level that you went to in obtaining a voice of the customer feedback from people who were using, I Need It. So, tell us about that process.
Margaret Nardini:Right? So we started really looking at our customers who were using, I Need It today and what were their pain points with it? What would they like to see expanded? How were they using it today? And so we took all the good things that they had to say about, I Need It. They were a lot of good things they really like about I Need It. But we expanded on that to add things like multilevel ordering, reporting. I mean, we have lots of extensive reports we can do in Connectiv. We added the concept of having a service level agreement around your delivery times, which I Need It didn't have before. So there's the auto-escalation process. Once a request comes in, it gets assigned. And there's a period of time for somebody to start work on that if they don't start working in that period of time, it goes to the next person in the queue. So there's a lot of different things we added into this to make sure that it was meeting our customer's needs and exceeding what they have today.
Mike Zimmer: And for anybody that is listening to this now, and they've either worked with currently a technology company they've worked for a technology company, or they've sat on the opposite side of the conference table while somebody was pitching them their solution, one of the main things that typically come up in the first 30 seconds or so is the pride that organizations take and really listening to their customer. Right. And it almost comes across as a romantic and great and really positive experience.
But for those that are interested, that's not always the case. Oftentimes It results in very difficult, let's say constructive tension laid in conversations. And the customers that we have that use the, I Need It product they're very sophisticated. We would say that they're very high up on the maturity curve that Al and I probably talk about too much at this point. But I just wanted to say, thanks, Margaret. That's not an easy thing to do to get that kind of market feedback and then turn around and be like, "Yeah, you're right. That's an excellent point. Let's go ahead and build this into the latest and greatest." So thanks for taking that on. I really do appreciate it. And I'm sure our customers will too.
Al Gresch:One thing I'll add to that, Mike, it's interesting how important it is to have a fresh set of eyes. So one of Margaret's developers that I worked directly with at the very beginning of this, looked at some of the workflows and the processes and asked some very pointed questions. As he was looking at that and said, "Well, this doesn't really make sense. What if we did it this way?" And then when we share his reflections with some of our customers, they're like, "Yeah, that's a great idea." So, so it added that aspect to it as well. Yeah.
Mike Zimmer:I feel like we should do a shout out during the episode, but I don't know if that individual wants their name to be said in this.
Seth Toepfer:Yeah. This conversation is starting to dabble into, some of the philosophies and Product Management that really drives our passion. There's a saying in the Product Management Industry, and that is, "A product manager's opinion is interesting but irrelevant." And then, when I say it to a lot of product managers, the first thing they say is, "How dare you." But once I explain, then it's understood that decisions in the Product Management space need to be driven by data and not assumptions. And so a lot of organizations come with that realization, but some of them fall short in a second common phrase. And that is the expert you need to talk to is not in your building. We're lucky enough to have folks like Al at Accruent, who are in our metaphorical building and we can tap, but well, that will never completely supplement the need and value you get from going directly to customers who can always give you the information you didn't think of and data you can use to validate your assumptions and decisions you're making from a product perspective.
So it's really just like we're saying, putting the pride aside and taking on the challenge and pain, mostly from a logistics perspective, right? Once you get a customer on the phone, it's not painful to talk to them. Oftentimes they love talking about what they do and how they're passionate and the challenges they face and how we can solve their problems. So it's just a matter of taking up that mantle and making sure that we're diligent so that when we do produce a product, it is tailored to the industry. It reflects the voice of the customer. And, we don't have a miss on delivery, which, in agile software development, we can't afford a lot of those if you're going to stay calm with the industry.
Mike Zimmer: Right. For sure. Now, if we were to kind of turn back towards a more solution-centric conversation, because that could go on about what we're talking about for the remainder of the time that we've got. So, this is going to sound like pointed or something, but I feel like you glazed over a little bit about a key portion of Request Management. And I know you've done a ton of work here, so I'm going to go back, I'm going to step back into an earlier part of the process and focus on that user experience. Like the clinical staff, that's actually making the request because you and your team have done a lot of work around designing what I would call a decision tree for that user to make this request processes as easy as possible on the front end. So maybe talk a little bit about that. And if you could just expand on it a little bit.
Margaret Nardini:Right? So what we've done is, Request Management is a catalog style ordering system. So you log in and the healthcare organization, they can set up as many different activities as they want. Those activities can lead to ordering through a catalog and pitcher ordering, or can just open the simple form. Like if you just wanted the temperature change or something like that in a room. So they set all that up. They configure their catalogs to work the way they want so that when the end-user goes in, it should be very simple to find what they need.
Hey, I need a cleanup or I need new bed linens, or I need a new pump or this isn't working and it's just clicking on the icon, that'll have a description, enter the information that you need, where you need the work done, what room you need it delivered to any other information and you hit submit and it is done. So again, I think one of the real benefits is that we have looked at, how do health care organizations work? We've talked to a lot of different companies to see how their workflows work and what they're doing today to make it seamless for the end-user.
Al Gresch:Also Mike, you think about the breadth of individuals that will be making requests within the system and the level of sophistication varies quite a bit. However, who hasn't gone on to Amazon and bought something. Right? And this follows that very intuitive Amazon type of experience for the end-user.
Margaret Nardini:Exactly. So we try to make it... We use that term all the time, Amazon type of ordering. So that it was quick and easy and you have a cart that pops up and you can see exactly what you've put in your cart, verify it before you check out.
Mike Zimmer:Yeah. It's also important not to get locked onto the traditional, departments that users are going to be making requests of. Because you've kind of scooped everything under this umbrella term of it being a catalog. So we've heard temperature adjustment, which is to my facilities, we've heard, this device is broken, which is clinical engineering equipment distribution. But if you can think of a department, a team there within your organization that is in charge of giving you something as the clinical staff, that could be represented in Request Management. And that's why it's so important to kind of make this concept of a request almost abstract because it can mean literally anything, good or service. Right? And so the front end of this process is super easy. Let's talk a little bit about how are we tracking the fulfillment team for these requests to ensure that they're hitting the mark from a service level agreement perspective so that you can build that level of trust between clinical and support staff.
Margaret Nardini:So, after a request is made, a workflow is open. Whether that's like you said, equipment distribution goes to facilities, biomed. Whoever is going to get that work order that is opened. And inside of Connectiv, we have service level agreements that there can be set up by the hospital for the different departments. There's a lot of configurations that can go on around those. And once that starts, that timer starts, there is a portal. We have a couple of different portals. We have a fulfillment portal, which our technicians can log into to actually complete the order. Or we have a dashboard for our supervisors and dispatchers, that can go in and say, "Where are my requests today? How many are delayed? How many are on time? Am I falling behind? Do I need to think about reassigning things?"
And this is going to lead to some metrics that may not be available today about staffing needs. And when are my high times, and we all know flu season is coming up. We've already got COVID-19. So hospitals are already starting to prepare for things like that and to have enough staff to meet those needs and be available to take equipment and deliver it where it's needed at the critical times is going to be so important. And if you don't have the data today to be able to make those decisions, that's a challenge.
Al Gresch: One of the things that were voiced by one of our customers that was extremely important to him but was missing from I Need It, is the ability to identify the reasons behind delays. Right? And so if I requested six of this type of device, let's say an infusion pump and four SEDs and three of something else. And I'm finding that consistently, I'm seeing delays for one of those types of devices and what it boils down to is I simply don't have enough of them. Now I've got the data to go back to my procurement group and my finance group and make that argument based on objective data not based on emotion. Right? Or perception. And that's important. Right? Because at the end of the day, and I think that Margaret alluded to it earlier, we simply want to build that trust level and make sure that the clinical staff gets what they need when they need it so that they can do their job. What they were hired to do.
Mike Zimmer:Yeah. And that kind of dovetails nicely into a question I've got for you Al. So we've got a way of capturing requests. That's very easy for a user to interact with. We can track our team's performance against the delivery of that good or service. We can report out against that as well. What are some of the maybe overlooked insights or ways that we can use that data to improve things like the balancing of the utilization across something like a mobile medical fleet?
Al Gresch:Yeah, it's a great question, Mike. And one of the things that we saw with a customer that was using I Need It, was that we saw the demand in a particular department drop significantly. And we were able to see those reports and we worked for hand in hand with the support department to make sure that they were continually optimizing the use of the platform. And when we shared the information with them, and two things were possible. The first is that their census had dropped. And so because of that, there simply wasn't as much demand. Well, that wasn't the case. So there's really only one other possibility. And that's that, that clinical department started hoarding equipment again. And so they weren't requesting as much because they were keeping those items on the floor, which if I'm an infection control person, about this time, my head's exploding because you want to make sure that things are being cleaned in the process the way that they need to be, especially right now.
Mike Zimmer:And so there's that, that outcome from that behavior. And then there's also the fact that, let's say that I hide a piece of equipment and my shift ends, somebody else comes in. They don't know where I left that. I come in the next day, the next night. I don't know. I forget that I did that. So, that's going to result in a perceived shortage of that device. That request gets funneled up to maybe the CNO, and then the CNO recommends the supply chain, "Hey, we need to either buy more of this equipment, or we need to worse yet, lease more of this equipment because apparently, we don't have enough."
Seth Toepfer: In an organization where I implemented a similar solution. I offset the cost of paying for the software by eliminating pump rentals. And so not only did we save those dollars that were going out the door every month for pump rentals but the software solution costs cost much less than that. So it was like putting money back in our pockets.
Yeah. The other thing that that does Mike for the customers is when we do an update, it doesn't break a bunch of stuff.
Mike Zimmer:I can't wait to personally start demonstrating Request Management because that is after all my job. So you need to hurry up and train me on that, Margaret. But it's not as though Request Management, it's this great new solution that we're about to bring to market. You just drop everything and then you just focus on that. One thing. You have a ton of different plates spinning. Right? I think that it's fair to say that, that's a core component of your jobs here at Cruenta. And so, I know that you've got a lot more in the works with Connectiv and just kind... I don't want to say standard because I feel like that's diminutive of the work that's gone into it. But you guys have done a lot of work to further stabilize the Connectivproduct. So Seth, Margaret, if you guys wanted to expand a little bit about what's been accomplished there and the 8.0 is really suddenly awesome.
Seth Toepfer:Yeah, absolutely. It's natural and a great idea, like you said, for software releases to not only introduce new functionality but also address things that we know our customers know may need to be improved in the application. So wouldn't surprise you to know that there are a number of bug fixes being involved in 8.0, but we also try to take advantage of releases to regularly make smaller, more incremental improvements to the overall experience in the application. So, you cited, that there are a couple of small pieces within the 8.0 framework in the release that is improving, some known areas where it may have had some substandard performance and trying to make sure we can get ahead of that as well as, finding opportunities to really move that incremental needle along the lines of configurability and maintainability assistance. So, to put it at high-level finding opportunities to take what would have been, traditionally more risky customization and maybe more susceptible to deprecation or being adversely affected with a release or an update of software and turning those into a configuration, which means it's better supported by the core code.
It's the equivalent of flipping a switch on the letter as opposed to changing function, to actually get the application to achieve what the customer would need. So we try to find opportunities like that to move the needle as well. And I can give you one specific example. A patient today, we have a derived field called Display IBM and it exists on many objects. One of the most notable examples is a piece of equipment and asset as a display IBM and out of the box, it's configured to generate the display IBM as a concatenation of two fields. We'll say model, name, and serum. Now we found that just about every customer has asked, is there a way we can change the derived explaining to be a little different. Either look at different fields or, concatenate in a different way.
And we've been satisfying that through professional services customization. But we've also found that sometimes when you do customization like that, it can cause, gaps or unexpected behavior in ways you didn't anticipate. So, that's just one example of where in the 8.0 release. We put some mechanisms in place so that the display IBM can be configured by the professional service. They can pick options from a pick list and know that no matter the combinations they choose to put together to concatenate for a customer, we've covered the holes, we've got it tested from end to end, and it is much, much less likely to cause any sort of adverse behavior.
So that's just one of those examples. We mentioned early on Connectiv is a very configurable application. But as some of you may know in software, sometimes the more you configure and the more you customize it can make your software more difficult to use or more difficult to maintain. So we try to take advantage of every loop release to bring those two closer together so that we either reduce the need for complex customization, or we can provide them in a way that is much more stable, repeatable, and much, much less likely to cause a disruption to our customer's business.
Mike Zimmer:Yeah. And so that is an example of what I would say is smaller change, but the way that modern CMMS solutions like Connectiv function. It's almost as if every single field is interrelated somehow. So just that minor adjustment to the underlying code, to something concatenate display name field. For those listening at home could have like unintended downstream or ripple effects across... I don't want to say the entire of the application, but let's say you had a workflow or a business rule that fired based on a value in that display name. It touches things in a way that maybe some of the more legacy solutions don't. And so when you formalize that when you cement it into place and make sure that it's just a rock-solid foundation. Yes, it's a small change, just a small improvement, but that doesn't mean that it's not important.
Seth Toepfer:Because if we get it right up front, that means one or two fewer support cases, one or two hours gained back from trying to figure out why did this happen? You know, where did the trouble occur? And just overall simplifying experience on both sides on the customer side and our side as well.
Mike Zimmer:Sure. And we're giving back that time to our customers so that they can do what Al the job that they were hired for.
Margaret Nardini:That's right, brother. That's right.
Mike Zimmer:Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Well, I know that we'll most likely have like a webinar with a live demonstration of request management at some point. Margaret, you may be providing that. Maybe I'll be providing that, but there's going to be opportunities for anybody listening to this to see it in the very near future. So totally looking forward to that. But other than that, anything you guys wanted to add prior to us wrapping things up today?
Seth Toepfer: Yeah. I think that kind of getting back to a high level, Margaret and I represent from a Product Management perspective on the Connectiv Product and the healthcare ecosystem at Accruent in general. We would like to become much more involved in terms of interactions with our customers. I know that maybe one area where existing customers may have said you've got some room to improve there at Accruent. So, she and I are absolutely dedicated to facilitating these conversations, getting much more involved in webinars, demonstrating the latest of what Connectiv can do, and how we're improving it. But also, as I mentioned doubling down on grabbing that voice of the customer to make sure that is done for the right reason so that we can be as efficient with our time and roadmap as possible. So, don't be surprised if some of you listening, start to be hopefully not pestered by approach by us or some of that voice of the customer. Some of that validation, because, it's solving your problems is really what makes us successful. And we really can't do that without the direct interaction.
Mike Zimmer:Well, thank you both for leading from the front. That's something that we definitely celebrate here within the healthcare team at Accruent I'm sure Al agrees with me there and can echo that sentiment. But personally, I just wanted to thank you both for the time. I know that you're both extremely busy. Al, did you want to go ahead and wrap things up for us?
Al Gresch:Yeah, I really appreciate your time today. And I do know that there are many new and exciting things coming down the road and that this level of innovation will continue. I know I'm working... I don't want to reveal anything, but there are some things that Seth and I are working together on with certain partners, but I think will definitely benefit our customers. So everyone, please stay tuned to things that are coming in the coming months and years.
Mike Zimmer:Well, that was a great intrigue builder for subsequent episodes. I appreciate it. Now, everybody, that's listening to this as usual. If you have any other topics that you'd like us to cover, feel free to reach out to Al or me. Look forward to talking to you soon. Thanks.
Al Gresch: Thanks, everybody.
Stay tuned for more episodes from the Healthcare Chats podcast. Submit your questions online and let us know what topics you'd like us to cover. Peace out.