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Podcast – Item Usage Capture with Image Recognition and RFID technologies

Podcast – Item Usage Capture with Image Recognition and RFID technologies

Podcasts

People & Computer Podcast – Charge Capture for Hospitals

We had the honor to take part in the excellent podcast of People and Computers, discussing `Med-tech Company Innovates Item Usage Capture in Operating Rooms and Procedural Rooms`. Shlomo Matityaho the Company’s CEO, was interviewed by Yehudak Konfortes and shared some of his vast experience on healthcare inventory management systems and their contribution to the hot topic.

People & Computers Group is the largest media body in Israel in the fields of computing and technology. The group was established in Tel Aviv and has been following the local high-tech industry since 1981. The group interacts with the Israeli IT industry leaders and provides updates around the clock on the Israeli hot start-ups and technological market.

Although the podcast is in Hebrew, our English-speaking listeners can read the translation at the bottom of the page.

 

Listen to the Hebrew Podcast:

English translation:

Yehuda: One of the main challenges in hospital operating rooms is efficient management of equipment, surgeon preferences and limited access by hospital personal. We are talking with Shlomo Matityahu, the CEO and owner of IDENTI Medical, a company that has developed a first-of-its-kind solution for efficient inventory management in hospitals and operating rooms. Their systems are already deployed in most hospitals in Israel, which we will hear about from Shlomo.

Yehuda: First of all, a few words about yourself and the company you head, what does the company do? And how long has it been around?

Shlomo: Yes, I’m Shlomo Matityahu, I’m the CEO of IDENTI Medical. IDENTI is a company that was founded in 2017 as another company called LogiTag, which at that time focused on RFID technology. The company develops solutions that improve management processes in operating rooms and digitally documents all items used in surgery including all details related to consumables and implant inventory in an environment of ever-increasing regulations.

Yehuda: How did you come to focus on this specific sector? Why did you decide to focus on it? I understand you set up the Company, right?

Shlomo: Yes, I founded the Company

Yehuda: So how did you reach this conclusion?

Shlomo: We founded the Company, and when we began activities in the field of RFID, I set a goal to enter the field of healthcare with a solution that combines advanced technologies to improve hospital processes. At the same time, we did extensive research to discover the pain points and options that hospitals have tried in the past to understand what solutions might be the most effective in this area that was lacking inefficient technological solutions. This is how we started developing and implementing solutions for hospitals.

Yehuda: What is your background? Were you in the healthcare industry previously? What were you doing before this?

Shlomo: I have been in the high-tech world for over 25 years. I have been in companies that have dealt in the fields of RFID and OFR technologies. I have been in the medical field for 15 years.

Yehuda: Before we get into the solution, let’s explain to the listeners what the challenge is, what was the problem that you started working on? What need do you actually meet?

Shlomo: I guess everyone who thinks about the healthcare industry and operating rooms in particular, is familiar with the amazing capabilities and tools that are present in hospitals. Israel is a very advanced country in this regard, in the development of equipment, medicines and products for the healthcare industry. But as we zoom in on operating rooms performing surgeries and look at internal processes, we see that there is a very large gap between the clinical capacity and the operational capacity. In fact, many hospitals in Israel and around the world have relatively inadequate operational, logistical, and management capabilities.

Yehudah: Why is this? How can this happen in an advanced country with advanced healthcare? How do you explain it?

Shlomo: Listen, it’s very significant, for example, if you take operating rooms that have ten surgeons you will see that there is a huge inconsistency as to their preferences in the OR and the person who manages this situation is the head nurse or the operator. I guess anyone who would run a company or production facility, would consider very much what kind of people they hire to work in this environment. And the reality is that operating rooms in hospitals are run in a completely different way. It is the head nurse or nurse team who decides, making it difficult to introduce and decide on new medical technologies. Eventually these places are left behind. By the way, this is a phenomenon that I also see when I visit hospitals around the world.

Yehuda:  Tell us about your solution. What system have you developed? How does it work? Please explain in terms that our listeners will understand without going into too many medical terms.

Shlomo: All right, what we wanted to do was to confirm an automatic documentation of the items used during a procedure. I’m talking about details, I’m mostly talking about implants, expensive items, which are used during surgery. This creates some sort of framework that allows hospitals to manage inventory, a process that is actually based on payment to suppliers. This is the challenge we wanted to deal with. In most hospitals these processes are manual. We also looked at this problem.

We actually tried to solve two problems at once. One is to accurately document items and the other is to provide a response to the clinical staff, which is to record items used inside the hospital automatically. I mean at the same time both improve the treatment processes and also digitally transmit data to the patient file. Now, what we have created is a system for operating rooms that controls two main components. On one hand it is the use of RFID technology that records the inventory automatically and not using a robot, and the other technology is processing and imaging technology. We have a system that sits in each operating room and each item used is photographed—or “snapped”—and the system using advanced AI capabilities identifies this item and records all the information in the patient file. It also transmits the information of the item used to provide a complete inventory in operating rooms automatically.

Yehuda: It basically connects the hospitals to their suppliers who know exactly what the inventory situation is and when to replenish inventory right? It is interesting. Because so far, we have seen how it is possible to order without always knowing the exact inventory levels.

Shlomo: Yes, that’s exactly what it does.

Yehuda: There’s an element of cost-savings here I understand.

Shlomo: There are huge savings for hospitals, with our automated process. In fact, we have set up a platform that allows hospitals to pay for a particular item when it is taken off the shelf and used. Now this is the dream of hospitals—not having to bring in extra inventory because all the inventory sitting in warehouses belongs to the supplier, but on the other hand, it creates a huge difficulty for the international companies.

Yehuda: True, suppliers are not really happy with this. Are they cooperating with you?

Shlomo: Yes, in the beginning, we started this process with a coordinated company that was the leading locomotive and they demanded that we introduce it into the market. Eventually, all the companies in the Israeli market work with our technology to one degree or another, because we are partners in all the hospitals, but not in all areas, so there is more room to develop in the country.

Now, we’ve introduced our photo maps, which actually incubated all this challenge, because if for example, we came to the conclusion that only 20% – 30% of hospitals were run by this method and on the other hand there are lots of other details you want to put into hospitals. The image processing system provides this answer. Nurses should deal less with documents and inventory so they can spend more time on patients. It affects inventory and regulatory information. It affects a whole lot of things: the cost of the surgery, how much the inventory costs, it has a huge impact. It actually allows hospitals to manage the system in a completely different way. The technology we have developed enables hospitals to shift into the digital realm, with improved management of operating rooms.

Yehuda: Can you estimate—I’m sure you’re asked this and that you check it out and so do the hospitals—how great is the cost savings to a hospital that runs your system?

Shlomo: I will give you an example: a large hospital in Israel, in the center of the country, that integrated our technology found that before our system was implemented held inventory of about 12 million shekels on the shelves.

Yehuda: We’re talking mostly about implants, correct?

Shlomo: Yes and after deploying our system the inventory held by the hospitals fell below one million shekels. Think for a moment about the impact, about the meaning.

Yehuda: From 12 million to one million shekels, what waste there was here.

Shlomo: This is not waste, just move the inventory from purchase to consignment. Think for a moment that if you have an inventory of NIS 12 million, you have between 5 and 6 percent waste every year and suddenly you see that this inventory is managed at a completely different level so that they do not have to bring extra inventory. By the way, in the field of implants, every surgeon prefers to use different equipment for one reason or another so hospitals are required to hold a very wide range. Now with our system, hospitals can be more tight with their held inventory.

Yehuda: Like any process of legitimation and change, you faced the issue of acceptance among the users themselves who raised the price of hospital work and suppliers, you came and said from today there is a new game in town, how did it work? How did you do that?

Shlomo: At the hospital level, what we have brought is a revolution because our systems are very simple to use. If you look at our cabinets there is no computer next to them. A nurse comes to the cabinet, opens it and removes what she needs. They do not interact with any computer. So implementation in hospitals is very simple. If you look at our photocopier, the SNAP AND GO, the nurse takes an item that she used, puts it on the platform and waits for the green light and that’s it. No interaction with a computer. With our systems the hospital has full visibility about what is being consumed inside operating rooms, which can positively affect processes. We need to adapt the processes to the data, which is the challenge we face.

Yehuda: How are you meeting this challenge?

Shlomo: Yes, it’s a challenge. It’s interesting but suddenly you see the data and the hospital sees a different price, and that the OR can be managed differently. It’s a process, a challenge we’re experiencing.

Yehuda: How is it with suppliers? Until now they had the upper hand?

Shlomo: Yes, it’s on the part of the vendors we push the information to them within their systems or in the interface or in the form of emails, that is, as slow and inaccessible to our software, they get the information in the wake of what happens. Our systems are very simple. We place great emphasis on simplicity of everything related. This is one of the key goals in our development considerations. So, this is the greatest challenge we experience, more than implementing our systems into hospitals.

Yehuda: Yes, but you previously said it was a pay-per-use model, which is new. Are suppliers cooperating with this?

Shlomo: Understand that this is what the market wants. Before we introduced the systems to hospitals there was very little consignment, it is a huge change for the hospitals and the suppliers themselves because the suppliers do not have to wait for a document coming from hospitals that a nurse sends—a process that was done manually. There were some agreements on consignment but our technology has made it more dominant and significant in all hospitals.

Yehuda: Last question, you are a public company, as far as I understand, traded on the stock exchange, what is your latest data? Do you want to share with us?

Shlomo: I am of course prevented from talking about our forecasts but basically in 2020 we finished with a sales turnover of over NIS 7 million and the Company was established in 2017. We grow by multiples, we almost double our revenues every year.

Yehuda: And I guess 2021 will be no less good?

Shlomo: Yes, of course the Corona virus has influenced the market and is helping us because there is more emphasis on this issue. The trend is a positive and good trend.

Yehuda: How many people to you employ?

Shlomo: Today we are 35 employees.

Yehuda: That’s not much. Are you recruiting?

Shlomo: We are constantly recruiting employees.

Yehuda: How hard is it to recruit?

Shlomo: Software engineers are very hard to recruit, I must admit. It’s a market of technicians right now and we’re hiring.

Yehuda: What is the next step? What is your next development goal?

Shlomo: The next step is to focus on systems with image processing and AI. Our general idea is to be able to record all the treatment data in operating rooms without human intervention. We want to know for example, when the surgery started, when the surgery ended, what equipment was used, etc.

Yehuda: You are also active abroad, correct?

Shlomo: Yes, our systems are installed in South America, Europe, France, and the United States. The United States is the main market we are currently addressing.

Yehuda: When you began developing your systems, did you not think to yourself how can it be that no one has thought of this already?

Shlomo: Listen, I think most software companies within this space are using one software or another, one feature or another feature when they have not dealt with the source of the problem. In the US I see a lot of software that treats symptoms but not the source of the problem. IDENTI deals with the source of the problem in operating rooms. Most of the players in this field are dealing with the problem. We gather accurate data and pass it on to existing hospital systems, when the whole perception today of most suppliers, most of the players in this field is to deal with the problem. Suppose I am missing a serial number let’s bring another external software or all sorts of such or other methods that do not deal with the problem. We will collect data on what is actually being consumed in operating rooms. In a simple way.

Yehuda: Yes, it is easier today to address these issues. It is very important. So nice, here’s another accomplishment that the State of Israel contributes to the world of healthcare, efficient and correct inventory solutions for operating rooms so that hospitals can have a greater impact on their most critical task: the treatment of patients themselves. Shlomo Matityahu Thank you very much for being with us.

Shlomo: Thank you.

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