Ventilator Predictive Maintenance in The Midst of Corona - An Interview with Accruent

Podcast Episode

Ventilator Predictive Maintenance in The Midst of Corona - An Interview with Accruent

Duration: 24:43 | Special Guests: Al Gresch & Michael Garel | Hosts: Tom Cabot & Ed O'Brien | Series: Digital Transformation Viewpoints

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Featured here are original and timely podcasts from ARC analysts and guest speakers on topics such as Digitization, New Business Models, Internet of Things, Industry 4.0, and Smart Manufacturing. We dive into technologies such as additive manufacturing, machine learning, asset performance management, device connectivity, IIoT architecture, cybersecurity, augmented reality, and more related to digitalization and transformation of industries.

Show notes:

What's in this episode?

ARC analysts Tom Cabot and Ed Orbien interview Accruent’s Al Gresch and Michael Garel to discuss Accruent’s free Ventilator Predictive Maintenance tool.

Full transcript:

Tom Cabot: Hello, everyone and welcome to the Digital Transformation Podcast by ARC. My name is Tom Cabot, and today we'll be focusing on ventilator maintenance data and computer maintenance software in their practical application in today's world, among many other things. We have two special guests from Accruent, Al Gresch, VP of Healthcare Strategy, and Michael Garel, Maintenance Director of Data Strategy. I'm also joined by my cohost, Ed O'Brien, research director here at ARC as well. Hey, Ed.

Ed O'Brien: Great, Tom. Thank you very much. Very excited. The news on Accruent offering information data and some of that goes back for about a quarter of a century for ventilator maintenance as part of the larger solutions that they offer. And I'm first, Al Gresch who is with Accruent. Al, can you give a background on what you do and what started this whole idea of the genesis of this program? Because it's very exciting that the hospitals have access to ventilator data in this regard, but also you do an awful lot in other areas. So it's quite exciting news from what I can see.

Al Gresch: Thanks, Ed. So yeah, Al Gresch. I'm vice president of healthcare strategy for Accruent. Accruent is a provider of computerized maintenance management software in the healthcare space. We also have CMS products in other industries and verticals. We provide lease management solutions, capital planning, space management solutions, and in addition to the software that we provide, we also focus on helping our customers get better and more efficiently utilizing our software. There's a lot of industry expertise within Accruent that is available in all verticals.

Tom Cabot: Yeah. Wow, that's great. Would you mind expanding a little bit on some of those verticals? And tell us a little bit more about Accruent if you wouldn't mind?

Al Gresch: Sure, thanks. Yeah, so Accruent is the leading provider of intelligence solutions for the built environment. And in our case that built environment is hospitals and hospital systems. We also span real estate, physical and digital assets and the integrated technology systems that connect and control them. So as you can imagine that means equipment and the buildings and everything within the hospital systems that keep them open and able to take care of patients. We serve more than 10,000 in a wide range of industries in more than 150 countries around the world.

Tom Cabot: Sounds like you guys are doing an incredible job given the circumstances globally right now.

Ed O'Brien: So what's happening in the industry overall is that we know what's unfortunately with COVID-19 but your background goes back quite a while with the hospitals. Were they searching for information? Did you have some thoughts that maybe you could share separately? What was kind of got this in motion to offer this app to hospitals?

Al Gresch: Sure. Yeah. You're absolutely right. I worked most of my career on the other side working in hospitals running a very large in house department for the customers that we now serve. And so I have a lot of background knowledge on what's happening and what challenges those folks are facing. So what's happening today, if you can imagine if you're watching the news, things are changing daily, even hourly. We have a lot of work from home staff that wasn't previously doing that. Essentially anyone that's not directly associated with direct patient care or supporting those folks are now compelled to work from home. The financials that are hitting the hospitals right now are a huge impact. The margins, the average margin for a not for profit hospitals in the US today is about 1.6%, which is razor-thin. So any hits to that can flip them over to the red side.

Al Gresch: And you think no elective procedures being done, those are the procedures that they typically make money on. There was a capital freeze in a lot of places now because they don't want to spend any of their planned capital in case they need to spend the additional funding on the equipment that they hadn't planned for. And that's kind of what got us to this point there is, as I'm sure you've heard a lot of equipment shortages and particularly with the ventilators. And what that means is that you're compelled to make optimum use of the units that you have because every hospital in the US is experiencing the same issue. You think about the hot zones like New York who are getting the lion's share of these cases have eaten up a lot of the available equipment.

Al Gresch: And as you can see, the numbers climb across the country ventilators is the primary device that people are trying to get their hands on. So with the availability being short, we need to make sure that our customers have optimum use, or using what they have and getting things turned around. So with this part predictor tool, it provides based on 25 years of actual service data, what they would need for both planned maintenance and corrective maintenance. So that if one of these devices does go down, the hospital can turn that around as quickly as possible because the need is as great as it's ever been.

Ed O'Brien: Right. And I know from Accruent and I know in other discussions we've had, but even from this perspective, the difference between preventive maintenance and predictive maintenance and focusing on the ladder is something you've done. Can you share for example, not only from what the data, but from what you've seen from maybe job plans or work plans, kind of the difference in why not only this app can make a difference? But also just in general what you do for hospitals across the board that the predictive maintenance perspective. Can you share your thoughts on that?

Al Gresch: Sure. And I'll let Michael get into the detail of the tool itself. But in general, you have two different types of maintenance that's done on any medical device. One is planned maintenance and those are activities that you have to complete at certain intervals and specifically, with ventilators, there are things like O2 sensors that need to be replaced at certain intervals. And so knowing when you would need those and getting those ordered sooner rather than later is key to getting those devices turned around.

Al Gresch: On the corrective maintenance side, one of the things that the tool does a great job of providing is predictive information about based on historic repair information, when does this thing typically fail and how does it fail? So having a clear understanding based on what makes and models of ventilators you have in your fleet, understanding what you're going to need is what we felt was going to provide some tremendous value to the industry.

Al Gresch: In addition to that, we created some reports, some standard reports that for all of our healthcare platforms that we felt would bring value. Things like coding the work that's related to COVID-19, I'm sure you've heard about the Carers Act and the amount of money that's going to become available. But we want to help hospitals identify that work proactively so that if they need that information in order to get funding from some the Carers Act they would have that readily available.

Ed O'Brien: That's great.

Al Gresch: Additional reports around things like workload management and again reported around specific device types that are becoming in short supply.

Ed O'Brien: So it sounds like in many ways, of course, the app and also the data that you provide and have provided, the company has provided, can not only provide asset management strategy realization including meantime to repair and mean time to failure. Very powerful metrics that they may not fully have access to or thought about too much in some organizations. But you're helping them in such things as workflow and coding information to have them make better decisions.

Ed O'Brien: I mean this is really exciting because it's what you're offering to the hospitals, you don't have to do this. I mean it's clearly, it's something you've been doing for a number of years. But to actually give them access to this intellectual property, I just want to mention to the whole team that this is what it's all about. And I know that probably a humble organization, but I think the industry really appreciates what you're doing.

Ed O'Brien: Michael, can you introduce yourself, but also I'd like to get your sense on the nuts and bolts and kind of a succinct way of the ventilator part methodology, how you look at the data. Not for all the parts of course, not the whole asset hierarchy. But is there an elevator version of what you offer?

Michael Garel: Sure. My name is Michael Garel, I'm the Director of Data Strategy over at Accruent. And for the last year and a half or so, my team's been working with the data out of our healthcare CMS platforms to really help us understand equipment reliability. And help our customers understand how to apply that equipment and reliability to make the best decisions that they can in terms of acquisition of equipment, but also staffing and maintenance of that equipment. And so once we started seeing this need for ventilators or need for more ventilators, we started thinking about how we can take our data and apply it in a very useful way, really quickly to help our hospital partners and others. We're giving this away to anybody in the industry. But help them maximize the uptime of the ventilators so that we could ultimately improve the outcome and patient care rate.

Michael Garel: And so yeah, we had this idea, we started brainstorming of what we could do and what we could do with our data. And you mentioned predictive maintenance before and that's really where we wanted to go with it is to be able to predict what parts would be needed when, and so we started taking a look at the data that we have on the equipment and then replacement parts. We realized that we could analyze and mine our data in an aggregate form so that we could see when equipment breaks based upon the age of the fleet of equipment. So we've aggregated all the data together and we're now able to tell a hospital if they have four-year-old ventilators have a particular make and model, what are some of the parts that we're going to predict that they need within the next three months?

Tom Cabot: Outstanding.

Ed O'Brien: So they can maximize uptime, presumably if they have, first off to know what might happen, but also to have parts on hand or readily available when it happens or hopefully before it happens. So keeping up time at a maximum. That's perfect.

Michael Garel: Exactly. And not only just the hospitals themselves but we've also started talking with some of the part distributors as well to make sure that the full supply chain is aware of what materials are going to be needed in these times.

Ed O'Brien: And how are the hospitals? I know quite a few, probably a little over half of your clients anyways and like in any implementation I'm sure some use some or more than others of capabilities within solutions. But is this kind of an eye-opener from what you're seeing for some? Or is it something that they are well familiar with other assets?

Michael Garel: Honestly, when I first thought of this idea and I started talking about it with Al, my initial thought was, "Oh, you know what, these hospitals are going to know what parts that they need to order." But in reality, they didn't. And so we've seen in actually a few different use cases, even use cases that we didn't even think about. So the first use case is, "What parts do I need on hand?" We just talked about that. And as it turns out, many of the hospitals didn't know exactly what they would need on hand and when. So they were running reports and we heard that they were sharing it with especially these multi-hospital IBM's with the other hospitals in their networks to make sure that they could check their stock critical spare parts against what we're finding. That was one that we kind of the use case that we expected.

Michael Garel: One of these cases that we've heard of that we didn't necessarily expect, but has been quite interesting, has been hospitals that are now needing to acquire equipment that they have absolutely no history with. And to be able to give them some visibility into what parts they will need to maintain that equipment. Because they might at least have an idea of how many oxygen sensors they run through with their typical equipment, but they don't know how many sensors or filters or what have you, parts they would need for equipment that they've never had. So we're giving them visibility into this as well. So that was an interesting use case there.

Ed O'Brien: Wow, very powerful. I would think too with those that are coming out, even though they are limited from the national stockpile like you say it's, you're starting with a blank slate and having some idea on what I may need to stock and what I may need to get it running. If they're models that are old and something that's they're not familiar with in some ways this can give them some at least some backup information to start heading down that road and getting them into service, I would think.

Michael Garel: Yeah, that's also a really good point too, because we are seeing a lot of hospitals, not only just out of the national stockpile but out of their retired assets. We see retired assets that are coming back. And so being able to not only know what preventive maintenance needs to be performed if we can do through our CMS tool. But then also being able to predict what parts they need to continue to keep them running because they may not have been using this equipment for who knows how long.

Ed O'Brien: Sure, sure.

Michael Garel: So giving them again that visibility. Because we are taking into account data, 20 years worth of data. So chances are we have data on that particular ventilator that may have been out of service.

Ed O'Brien: Wow, that's very powerful. So, and this could be for Al as well. What's next? What are you seeing? Clearly learning new things every day. Where do you think to see this or similar programs perhaps sitting?

Al Gresch: yeah. So if you think about what's happening with regard to the health care space, essentially they're having to double the bed capacity.

Ed O'Brien: Wow.

Al Gresch: And so if you have a designated ventilator, a patient or ventilator bed, there's other equipment that has to be incorporated with that. Beds of course, infusion pumps, monitors because you have to monitor those patients. And so I think this sort of sets the model for what other types of equipment we could be looking at to do similar things.

Al Gresch: The other thing Ed, is we talked about the set of standard reports that we've developed. We're constantly garnering feedback from our customer's finding, what else do you need? And there are so many sources of information out there that people need to stay plugged into. So we're looking at, "Can we provide a single source of all of that information that people can tap into?" Because we're looking at that information and those sources anyway. And then as time goes forward we're identifying information that would be valuable to the entire industry and presenting that information in blogs or podcasts like this one, webinars. So that we can share best practices and recommendations based on not only our own experience but the experience of others.

Al Gresch: One example of that is we did a webinar and in that talked about what one hospital was doing to segregate their staff and develop two different teams and had each of them working three days at a time. So working Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, one team and the other team working Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. And so you kept a complete team that if somebody on that team got sick-

Ed O'Brien: Sure, yeah.

Al Gresch: ... you could still function. And so after the webinar, I talked to a couple of our customers that went ahead and employed that strategy and we're extremely grateful. So again, it's about doing everything that we can as a company to help, not just our customers, but the entire industry through this crisis.

Ed O'Brien: That's great. Now for Al and Michael. This whole thought process and I know you've been doing this for many years and so the information is both broad and deep. But is some of this thought process now kind of new and enlightening in some ways? And what was the pivot? What is the pivot, what do we see going forward from this? That as you say, you've learned quite a few and we're learning as a country and every country is learning something all the time. Kind of thoughts as we head into the next year or two of across the board on healthcare, I know that's a broad topic. But is there any observation that may cross across different paths as we head forward?

Michael Garel: Yeah, on the data front. I mean, we're seeing a lot of interest in hospitals making data-backed decisions. So in the past, we've heard a lot of decisions being made either by feel or by a recommendation of others that don't necessarily have any data that's backing it up. We've been hearing a lot, even before the pandemic, we started hearing a lot about how hospitals were needing to be more capital efficient, margins are dropping and they get needed to optimize their spend. And so as we started building out tools for our customers to use, we wanted to make sure that they were using data to make the best decision. And we're seeing that continue. And I think it's going to become even more critical as we move forward. Like Al mentioned, hospitals are feeling a financial struggle right now due to the pandemic as well. Who would have guessed, right? And so we're going to continue to see that.

Michael Garel: Some of the things that it's done for my team as well on the product side has been enabled us to get a kickstart on how we use parts materials data, to help organizations ensure that they're properly maintaining their equipment and being most efficient about maintaining their equipment. Not just purchasing and disposing of.

Al Gresch: Yeah, one thing I'll add to that is, I'm sure everybody has in the back of their mind that, "I just can't wait for things to get back to normal." But I think we all understand that there's going to be a whole new normal that's going to come out of this. And I think in particular, as Michael alluded to around the area of efficiency and optimum workflows, this is going to uncover less than optimal processes and workflows that have been going on. And I think after this, there's going to be a whole lot of people that don't ever want to go through this process as unprepared as many have been. And, "What do I need to do in order to streamline my processes of workflows?" And I think that's an area where we can provide immense help for the healthcare industry.

Ed O'Brien: Good point. And the point earlier made about the data-driven decisions and this being part of our digital transformation podcast. Something we've been talking about for a long time is just using information from data, not just data. And that sounds like you're helping your customers and prospective customers to make that move, to make good use of data. I know you're busy. I want to just if there are any closing comments on validation or just closing comments in general, any observations of things that I might've missed, just your thoughts?

Al Gresch: No, I think we covered what we needed to and we aren't over this. I know I talked briefly out about our customer's desire to keep their employees safe. And I just saw a report this morning from one single organization where six 600 to 700 workers tested positive and so again, we just all need to stay plugged into this and help support each other in any way that we can.

Ed O'Brien: So true. So true.

Tom Cabot: Just one quick question before we wrap up here. Michael, so how do you access the app and how do you use the app?

Michael Garel: Well, the app is available for free, anybody can use it. And you simply point your browser to And there's no gate, you can start immediately filling in your ventilator inventory information including age and number of devices and we dynamically start creating a list of parts. You can then download that report or just use it right there. If a hospital has any questions or doesn't want to enter in all their inventory, we could also work with them to create and report as well. Just email [email protected].

Ed O'Brien: Al and Michael, thank you so much. Accruent as a company, Patrick, I know as a managing director just my personal thought of a thank you from the industry, what a great way to share your new information and help everyone ensure maximum uptime. And I'm sure we'll have other discussions of beyond this, but it's a great thing you're doing, great information you're sharing and with that, we thank you for your time.

Al Gresch: Well thank you for having us Ed. Really appreciate it.

Michael Garel: Great. Thanks.

Ed O'Brien: Thank you.

Tom Cabot: Anybody who's interested in getting more information you can visit us at or on our streaming platforms, Digital Transformation Podcasts on iTunes, on Spotify, and a whole bunch of other streaming platforms, including YouTube. Or you check out our Smart Cities podcast too as well. Thank you, everybody, and have a great day.