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Total Communicator Solutions, Inc: Creating a Contextual Care Continuum
Erik Bjontegard, President & Founder, Total Communicator Solutions, Inc Ever since the World Wide Web and the internet snowballed into the enterprise world, “things” have never been the same. With more and more commonplace objects—from watches to car keys—turning into edge-computing devices and connecting to the internet creating the Internet of Things, there is an increasing number of Greenfield opportunities for technology companies to explore. They already leverage cloud environments to build platforms that store, analyze, and report data intelligence to relevant users. Now, a new era has begun. There are more devices than there are people in the world. There are more platforms to collect petabytes of data than there are eyes and minds to make decisions based on this data. What enterprises need is not another platform. They need a platform to manage platforms—one that does not dictate a use case but manipulates the output of existing platforms and devices to communicate between various components of a contextually driven ecosystem—ideally in a single interface. True to its name, Total Communicator Solutions (TCS) addresses this niche purpose, providing a contextually intelligent communication platform that forms a central band of orchestration to settle the chaos of the modern ‘smart’ world.
Call him optimistic; but Erik Bjontegard, the president and founder of TCS, envisions a future where every aspect of our daily lives communicates with relevant stakeholders in a contextual manner. As it relates to healthcare, the possibilities are virtually endless. Working with subject matter experts and industry leaders who share a similar vision, TCS strives to alleviate the geographical and practical limitations for the delivery of healthcare. In this vision, each component of the care ecosystem— the patient, care provider, physician, nurses, clinical staff, families, and care navigators, even family members— will no longer be isolated from each other; instead, they would receive relevant updates and information at the right time and place.
Helping organizations achieve these objectives, TCS offers Spark Compass, a platform built on its patented contextual intelligence communication technology. Spark Compass has the ability to take sensor input from a connected communication device and analyze it with simple as well as complex algorithms in a cloud environment. The input may range from user activity, location, past behavior, demographic information, and health records to timeline, the surroundings, and environment of the edge-device usage. As wordy as it sounds, the premise is simple, as Bjontegard explains, “When you have the ability to understand all those, the context, for a series of devices and users in a system, and communicate the understanding to a cloud-based platform, that’s where the magic happens. Curated experience can now be delivered to end-users, patient and care providers alike across multiple devices and platforms.”
For this system to become intelligent, TCS has built a feedback loop in Spark Compass, which draws data from the end-device and reports it back to the curated content. For TCS, the ultimate aim is to provide a technology platform for healthcare where the care in all of its glory—with human touch and attention to detail— can be replicated in today’s fast-paced world. This is achieved by means of technology interactions from the edge, all the way through systems and infrastructures, back to an edge-device or a patient, in a personalized, meaningful, efficient, and automated manner.
This is a variation of “Artificial Intelligent” Bjontegard calls “Augmented Intelligence”.
Built on a “Fluid Foundation”
From its inception in 2012, TCS has worked closely with XiMED, a physician-led medical group in La Jolla CA, in order to steer their research efforts and product roadmap in the right direction. “We spend a lot of time working with Dr. Marc Sedwitz, the chairman of the board of directors at XiMED, and his team to define what physicians practicing in the U.S. see as challenges. We realize that they are given a lot of tools, told to conform with technology, and given less and less time to perform the task of providing patient care,” articulates Bjontegard. In an effort to make technology simple and intuitive for physicians to easily implement and use to the full effect, TCS has built the Spark Compass platform on an idea with a rather oxymoronic name— ‘fluid foundation.’
The same platform can scale between simple text-based engagements for a single physician, to a complete patient engagement solution for a network of 10,000 physicians
The platform begins with the end-goals, defining each path to be taken that would eventually lead to the results that the care network of physicians, patients, care navigators, and technology vendors have in sight. On the other hand, with a built-in natural flexibility, Spark Compass can easily adapt to changes in processes, systems to be integrated along the way, and the very set of objectives to be achieved. As increasingly powerful devices are released into the market by OEM giants such as Samsung and Apple, and the expertise of system integrators such as ATOS and CGI widen, TCS partners with them in an effort to achieve the pre-defined goals in an agile and flexible fashion. What is more exciting in these partnerships is the ability of TCS to extend its powerful Spark Compass platform to a variety of use cases.
Effecting Behavioral Shifts in the Real World
Standing amidst a sonorous applause in the Department of Health and Human Services, Bjontegard’s team had just completed a demonstration of what Spark Compass can do. In collaboration with Gimbal, a provider of beacon technology with advanced security layers, TCS created a corporate wellness platform for the Project Boundary, DHHS’ official entry to the White House initiative— the SmartAmerica Challenge. Project Boundary aimed at gamifying the experience of practicing healthy habits at the workplace. The fully operational platform and mobile app, built by TCS, interacted with Apple’s iBeacons and communicates contextual and personalized information to users. The beacons interacted with the Spark Compass to understand the users’ activity—waiting near an elevator or taking the stairs, verifying if drinking water from a fountain, and suggesting choosing a healthy snack from a snack bar—and assigning points to the user based on their choices.
TCS has worked with several other partners both in the healthcare and technology spheres to create such amazing results. For instance, with the ongoing momentum in wearable technology, TCS explores areas such as efficiency of physical routines and exercises. With Spark Compass, TCS can verify if a patient in physical therapy is performing a barbell curl, measure the extent and speed of arm motion, and convey useful feedback through the wearable itself.
Spark Compass’ powerful communication mechanism can help caregivers to contextually understand a patient’s entire journey, from the moment they park their vehicle in front of an ambulatory clinic (which can also be detected and conveyed to clinical staff so they can prepare the paperwork), all the way to readmissions and surgeries. Output areas that can be explored with Spark Compass include AR, VR, active feedback, and reports.“The same platform can scale between simple text-based engagements for a single physician, to a complete patient engagement solution for a network of 10,000 physicians,” explains Bjontegard.
One of TCS’ customers, a large medical insurance company, wanted to provide its consumers with memberships across 4,600 Fitness Clubs. Spark Compass was able to identify the users that visited the club twice a week and spent at least an hour in the fitness club, in order to automatically reduce their medical insurance bill. In the case of XiMED and Scripps Hospitals, TCS worked closely with Samsung and another telecommunications provider to create patient communication and discharge kits that would be given to patients upon prognosis and determination of the need for surgical treatment. The kit includes a tablet that provides an AR experience that communicates any information regarding the procedures. It also doubles as a communication hub to the physicians and other staff, and forms an interface to connect with the patients’ inner circle of trust— their friends, families, and caretakers. Further, the kit includes a wearable device that provides medication reminders directly to the patient’s wrist, check-list reminders and via bi-directional communication to the Spark Compass platform captures real-time confirmations, self-reporting data on medication compliance, sending reminders when needed— and can act as an early warning / alert system if a fall is detected initiating immediate communications to check on the patient’s wellness.
"We are creating an early warning system where every person involved in a patient journey can be alerted in realtime"
A Valiant Vision
At a broader level, TCS deploys Spark Compass for a variety of verticals and application areas, many of them being major building blocks of a smart city project. The company has worked with several international airports, educational institutions, healthcare providers, sports teams and stadiums as well as government bodies to create connected experiences, leveraging the expertise of individuals with a distinguished background in smart city initiatives. Already, Bjontegard and the team is starting to integrate all the established applications together with other Smart City solution providers, to form an ecosystem where residents of a city can be encouraged to live healthier, and first responders can be provided with curated content at the right time and place to provide first aid to those in need—all under the Spark Compass Platform of Platforms.
“The ultimate goal is to improve efficiencies,” sums up Bjontegard. “We’re creating an early warning system where every person involved in a patient journey can be alerted in realtime and are provided with actionable information—delivering personalized care in a more efficient manner.” TCS is growing steadily to meet this vision with a new way of thinking—a new way with not just another platform, but a platform of platforms.
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