Sweeney Among the Florence Nightingales: Wireless Health Pioneer Jim Sweeney Customizes iTouch for Patient Care
When it comes to healthcare, San Diego’s Jim Sweeney has some serious entrepreneurial street cred.
Before taking over the San Diego company now known as PatientSafe Solutions in 2009, Sweeney founded eight healthcare companies, beginning in 1979 with Caremark, which sold to Baxter for roughly $600 million in 1987. His enterprising run continued to CardioNet, which he founded in 1999 with the idea of using wireless technology to remotely monitor heart patients around the clock.
Sweeney raised over $250 million in capital before leaving CardioNet in late 2007, about five months before the company’s IPO. Nowadays, he’s regarded as a wireless health pioneer. And with more than 300 scientists and engineers gathering in San Diego next week for the Wireless Health 2011 Conference, it seemed appropriate to sit down with Sweeney, who is PatientSafe’s chairman and CEO, and Joe Condurso, the chief operating officer.
As we reported in 2009, the company that Sweeney took over was founded in 2002 as IntelliDot, and had been trying to advance technology that was akin to a FedEx barcode scanner for use in hospitals. “With IntelliDot all we did was (track) medication administration,” Sweeney says. “With PatientSafe we have broadened the aperture drastically to include nurse interventions and communications.”
The device developed under Sweeney’s direction is a souped-up Apple iPod Touch that’s been extensively modified to help nurses with just about every aspect of their job. PatientSafe also has customized the iPod Touch for hospital duty by integrating the device with a barcode scanner and a 12-hour battery, and encasing the device in a ruggedized jacket
The wireless “PatientTouch” device, which made its debut earlier this year, is designed to help nurses manage their clinical care workflow, guide patient care, coordinate tasks and communicate with other nurses and doctors (using a hospital’s Wi-Fi network for text messaging or Voice-over-Internet Protocol calls), and to collect and record patient vital signs and other data in real time.
It also is intended to help prevent medical errors, improve quality, and reduce costs—chiefly by saving nurses hours of paperwork.
“We’ve created the world’s first ‘smart device,’ designed for patient care and that incorporates [Apple's] iOS platform as the main engine,” Sweeney says. “We’re selling clinical process improvements at the point of care, and we’re delivering patient safety and quality along with it.”
Condurso, who says he sees PatientSafe as the Apple of wireless health, cites studies that estimate nurses spend slightly more than one-third of their … Next Page »