Interview with DocBox, Inc.® CTO Tracy Rausch

Published on December 31, 2012

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Many of today's medical devices generate data. Continuous patient monitors provide a stream of data on a patient's vital statistics. Infusion pumps report on what fluids are being pumped into a patient's body and the rate of flow. Ventilators, imaging systems, and other devices also generate data. When medical devices are connected to a hospital's network, the data generated by the devices can be captured on the network, associated with a patient, and stored in the patient's medical records.

Today, most network-based patient data is managed by medical device data systems, or MDDSs. An MDDS does not control the functions or parameters of medical devices but instead focuses on the data that those devices generate. Rather than analyzing patient data at the point of care, a typical MDDS captures patient data and pushes it onto the hospital network, possibly converting the format of the data to make it consistent with data from other devices. Leading MDDS vendors are Capsule®, iSirona®, PatientKeeper®, and Cerne®r.

By capturing patient data, an MDDS enables unified electronic medical records for every patient.  While such records provide significant value to many stakeholders, including hospitals and patients themselves, the records are of little use to clinicians who are providing active care for patients.  Clinicians want “live” data and, if possible, analysis of data from several different sources.  With an integrated clinical environment (ICE) in which all medical devices are interconnected and sharing patient information with clinicians, those clinicians can deliver better care and minimize the risk of mistakes and injuries.

The official ICE standard has been established by ASTM International®, formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).  ASTM F2761-2009 Part 1 is a standard that specifies general requirements, a model, and a framework for integrating equipment to create a patient-centric ICE.  Two key components of an ICE system are ICE network controllers and ICE supervisors.  Each ICE network controller uses ICE network interfaces to interact with medical devices that are connected to the patient. A controller generates an alarm if a device malfunctions, and it provides data logs for forensic analysis.  Each ICE supervisor provides an interface between the clinician and the network controller.  A supervisor also provides “system smarts,” including record keeping, clinical decision support, and smart alarms.

One company that is designing ICE-compliant systems is DocBox®, which is based in the Boston area.  Founded in 2007 by Tracy Rausch, DocBox provides a platform that brings intelligence and automation to the point of care rather than on the hospital network or cloud. The DocBox system, which is currently under general testing and trials, will be considered a Class 2 medical device when it is released in early 2014.

The DocBox system builds smart awareness between patients and nurses. The touch-screen platform allows medical care providers to input real time contextual information to coincide with data pulled from medical devices monitoring the patient. The combination data from medical devices, contextual patient information and sophisticated algorithms allow doctors to make advanced decisions. The combination of this data also is used to activate smart alarms which notify nurses. Most of the time that smart alarms sound in hospitals today, they are false alarms. This encourages nurses to ignore them or completely shut them off as they are a nuisance. The DocBox system analyzes patient data in order to sound smart alarms only when there is truly an emergency. This will make patient care in hospitals more effective and more efficient.

For more information, visit the DocBox, Inc. website, here or follow Tracy on twitter @docboxmed