Pittsburgh Technical Council

Solving a Trillion Dollar Problem: TeleTracking’s technology drives inefficiencies out of healthcare

Solving a Trillion Dollar Problem: TeleTracking’s technology drives inefficiencies out of healthcare

Article Published: October 21, 2014

Inventory control. At first blush, sounds like such a dry subject. How many widgets in Minneapolis? How many do they need in Phoenix? How will they get there, and by when?

Like shuffling checkers around the board. Sure, money’s on the line. Sure, it’s important to the P/L statement. In the end, though, it’s just keeping track of “stuff,” right?

But consider this. What if, instead of stuff, your inventory control had life-and-death consequences? What if you had to keep track not of things, but of people? Very sick people? People who needed immediate medical care? 

You still say inventory control’s a dry subject? Didn’t think so.

Enter TeleTracking, a Downtown-based healthcare IT firm that for more than two decades has mastered this unique and vital form of inventory control, emerging as a worldwide leader in its space.

“TeleTracking first addressed bed turnover issues 23 years ago with its BedTracking® application,” explained company President Michael Gallup. “There are 800,000 hospital beds in the U.S., but no one knew where these beds were. Were they occupied or not? Where were the mobile assets, nurses, and doctors needed to support them? We saw the need and acted on it.”

Today TeleTracking has the software capability to integrate beds, staff, and equipment to solve this problem.

“Roughly 60 percent of operating expenses in healthcare are labor-related, so if we could improve that—even by 20 percent—that is a significant opportunity,” said Gallup.

Everything being managed through the TeleTracking software can be seen on-screen in real time. Guesswork gets eliminated. Care improves. Costs go down.

“We’re turning waste into wealth,” said Gallup. “Because everyone knows where the needed professionals and equipment to serve patients more efficiently are, healthcare can get back to actually providing care. Doctors have more time to do what they really are meant to do.

“TeleTracking is all about giving wasted time back to caregivers so they can provide healing with more time available,” he said. “Every single year, $1 trillion is wasted in healthcare. People talk about defense, education, and other areas that have a lot of waste, when the truth is we’re wasting a lot more money in healthcare. Fraud is the smallest share of that waste, while administration and inefficiency are the largest.

“A third of a nurse’s time is spent on patient care, a third on finding stuff, and a third documenting things,” Gallup continued. “TeleTracking takes the ‘finding stuff’ third out, leaving more time for patient care. We have 43 nurses who work at TeleTracking. They told us, ‘We didn’t get into this profession to be frustrated.’

“Our philosophy believes that technology can be used as a healing technique. We’re not product people, we’re vision people. Waste in the healthcare industry is a big problem that’s not talked about enough. We’re looking to hire people who are passionate about solving big problems. Everything we do attacks the big problem of waste in the healthcare system.”

It’s no secret that the U.S. healthcare system remains in flux, with implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) changing the very platform on which so much rests. TeleTracking rides to the rescue again, even as the industry itself rumbles and roils.

“When you pull funds out of a system, it must become more efficient,” Gallup noted. “The ACA put 30 million more patients into the healthcare system without any more money. As the cost per patient goes down, efficiency must improve. The ACA did take money out of the system, which creates much greater demand for TeleTracking software to help drive wasteful costs out. Our company stands at the leadership position of a great frontier: offering a healthcare operating system to reduce waste end-to-end in an overarching platform.”

TeleTracking currently operates in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K., with possible expansion into other areas of Europe, but Gallup said the company has traditionally taken a very cautious approach to geographic growth and has no plans to operate any other way in the coming years. When it comes to expanding its capabilities, however, the future arrives a little faster.

“We have a trillion-dollar problem we’re going to continue to innovate around,” he said. “Our roadmap is all about pooling technologies with huge organizations like Google, Apple, and Microsoft, who know about what big data means. We take real data and show it to hospitals to help patients get in and get out of the healthcare system in the most efficient way, so working with these kinds of organizations will continue to help TeleTracking solve a very big problem in a leadership sort of way.”

At the heart of TeleTracking’s mission, a simple concept remains: Strip out waste by keeping better track of patient conditions and locations, medical professionals’ availability, and needed facilities and equipment – so that healthcare can operate with greater cost-efficiency and, most importantly, more time to actually provide quality care.

“Healthcare systems today are like a car that gets one mile to the gallon,” Gallup offered. “We help it get to 40 mpg. For example, we can tell ambulance drivers which hospital to go to because we can see which Emergency Departments are full. We can monitor episodes of proper hand-washing to reduce the chance of infections. Technology today can connect healthcare-related information on an individual that doctors could use more efficiently and effectively to treat those patients.

“We’ve listened for 23 years to our clients, responding to their questions about certain applications along the way. So, in essence, 870 hospitals have helped to build the TeleTracking solutions available today. We challenge each other’s thinking in a wise and true partnership.

“TeleTracking is No. 1 in patient flow, staff flow, and equipment flow in healthcare operations management,” Gallup concluded. “No other competitor shares our vision.”

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