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Mainspring Healthcare Offers New Workflow Solution to Go With New Name

The company, previously known as St. Croix Systems, is supplying hospitals with a single software platform to manage multiple technologies, including RTLS and passive UHF RFID tags, to track the movements of goods and people, as well as sensor data.
By Claire Swedberg
Jan 31, 2014

St. Croix Systems Corp. has renamed itself Mainspring Healthcare Solutions, to reflect that the operations-management system it offers has been expanded and now provides support for a broader range of RFID and real-time location system (RTLS) technologies. The rebranded company says it has begun supplying solutions for hospitals to manage their enterprise-wide operations with a single software platform that automates workflows and provides reporting and alerting based on activities that may fall outside expected workflow perimeters. Data related to the movements of goods and individuals, used to identify activities, can be provided by RFID—typically passive.

While operating under the name St. Croix, for more than 20 years, the Boston-based company provided asset-management software for hospitals. But as time passed, requests for solutions went beyond the management of mobile assets, to workflow solutions that manage mobile equipment, surgical supplies, laboratory samples, support-services personnel and environmental conditions.

Mainspring's Hank Goddard
In addition, Hank Goddard, the company's CEO, says he had witnessed a transition toward the use of passive RFID. Consequently, the firm had begun providing ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) EPC Gen 2 tags and readers to feed data regarding the locations of assets, such as pumps or wheelchairs, to its hospital operations-management software. As result of these trends, Goddard's company developed workflow-management software, known as the Service Performances Management Platform, to enable the retrieval of data from a variety of disparate systems, including RTLS and RFID, and to use that information to identify workflow and track exceptions, as well as issue necessary alerts to the appropriate employees if those exceptions occur.

As its offerings expanded and moved toward support services workflow, using passive RFID and RTLS technologies, Goddard decided to rebrand his company accordingly. As St. Croix, the organization provided software for asset management and worked with vendors of bar-coding and RTLS technology to enable the capture of location data via Wi-Fi or active RFID tags. However, he explains, a growing number of hospitals are now expressing an interest in installing RFID solutions consisting of passive tags attached to assets (or worn by people), in addition to portals for identifying when a tag enters a specific zone.

"There's been a massive pick-up in passive RFID" for hospital operations, Goddard says—due, in part, to what he calls fatigue in real-time location systems. There are many "orphaned" RTLS solutions installed at medical facilities, he says, that are not being used as intended. This, he adds, is because the workflow issues had not been addressed first. "It's a shame that so much investment was made with so little to show for it, in many cases. RTLS is a great tool... but you have to fix and control the workflow first." What's more, the RTLS tags often do not capture the required information, due to battery problems. Therefore, Mainspring Health has installed passive RFID systems comprising Motorola Solutions fixed readers, such as the FX7500 model, and a variety of types of ruggedized passive UHF RFID tags, in at least three hospitals already employing RTLS solutions.

One problem with some active RFID tags and readers, Goddard says, is that the battery life of RTLS tags can drop off too quickly—and often unexpectedly—and assets tagged with dead devices simply cannot be located. In addition, the tags are costly enough that they cannot be placed on lower-value goods. Mainspring's workflow solutions often use the RTLS technology, he says, augmented by passive tags that are used to track smaller items and act as backups to the RTLS solution.

For each new deployment, Mainspring first evaluated the hospital's operations, determined the workflow facility-wide, and set up the service performances management software to manage that workflow and identify if the rules are not being met—for example, if equipment or materials are not being transported to the location where they are needed, if maintenance will soon be required or is past due, or if a patient has been waiting an excessive amount of time for services. The firm then introduced passive UHF RFID tags and readers, by installing fixed interrogators at specific locations to establish zones, and attaching EPC Gen 2 tags to everything from surgical carts to mobile assets and consumables, in order to supplement the existing RTLS technology.

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