Honeywell & Renovotec help IMT International optimise operations within the IVF industry

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  • IMT International wanted to enhance their operations within the IVF industry and looked to its trusted partner Renovotec for guidance
  • Renovotec suggested the Honeywell Dolphin 70e as it ticked all the boxes IMT were looking for: reliability, safety, flexibility and speed
  • Patient data is collected seamlessly and accurately providing error prevention and traceability, the cornerstone of the IVF industry

IMT International Ltd provides IVF management technologies to fertility clinics, donor banks and other Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) centres.

In 2006 the business, based just outside Chester in the UK, started to develop 'Matcher', its electronic witnessing system to assist IVF practitioners across the UK, Europe and more recently, the rest of the world.

The customers of IMT work in highly time critical and emotive situations so the technology they use for data collection and traceability needs to be un-failingly accurate, effective and unobtrusive.

As a company that lists its core values as quality, development, customer service and long- term partnerships, IMT needed to ensure that its technology infrastructure complemented these pillars.

End of life, new device

IMT found that the devices used to support its clients in IVF clinics were coming to end of life and needed improvement. George Heywood, MD at IMT, needed to find a faster, more robust and more secure device to carry out witnessing procedures in clinics that take place outside of a fixed laboratory workstation.

Customers had requested that the time taken to transfer embryos and capture the right information needed to be reduced further" said Heywood. "We needed to find a quicker solution to give embryologists, nurses and clinicians greater confidence in the technology they work with"

The procedures to be handled by the new devices include both administrative and clinical services such as:

  • Identifying a patient's paper medical records
  • Accurately and rapidly tracking all product batch data for media and other consumables that come into contact with gametes and embryos throughout the IVF process
  • Identifying a male patient and his semen collection container in collection rooms
  • Identifying a patient's paper medical records
  • Accurately and rapidly tracking all product batch data for media and other consumables that come into contact with gametes and embryos throughout the IVF process
  • Identifying a male patient and his semen collection container in collection rooms

Ticking the right boxes

Testing the above procedures with alternative hardware showed that even newer devices were unable to consistently read the small barcodes used in very demanding conditions in the clinics. This includes the frosted labels coming out of liquid nitrogen storage vessels, or labels on very small diameter curved surfaces.

For this reason, IMT turned to Renovotec, a key provider of technology solutions for the healthcare sector, who recommended the Dolphin 70e handheld mobile computerfrom Honeywell. It was a product that IMT found to tick all of the required boxes.

"Our key user requirements when we evaluated barcode imaging solutions included reliability, safety, flexibility and speed of operation. As Renovotec suggested, the Dolphin 70e was exactly what we needed to keep our business processes at the level our customers and their patients expect." Heywood noted.

"The previous devices were starting to look outdated, not the sort you would expect to find in a cutting edge clinical environment", he added. "Whereas with the Honeywell devices, you'd be forgiven for thinking it was a personal smartphone that the clinician was using."

A second pair of eyes

While look and feel is clearly an important factor, first and foremost the new devices provide error prevention and traceability, the cornerstone of the IVF industry.

With the new Honeywell devices, IMT captures accurate identification of fertility patients, their gametes (sperm and eggs) and embryos in containers (dishes, tubes and straws) on a large, readable screen.

All data captured within the clinic is automatically sent to the matcher database for analysis and safe keeping using secure WPA-2 networks. This provides users with a second pair of eyes, even if they are working alone, and with the crisper image quality of the Honeywell device they also have a valuable and reliable trail of evidence of the chain of custody.

Matt Pettit, General Manager of IMT said: "Our electronic witnessing system is capable of preventing error at every stage of the patient treatment cycle, and can provide complete traceability for the entire clinic. But a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and with the Dolphin 70e providing enhanced coverage in areas that couldn't otherwise be easily monitored, we feel we have made a valuable enhancement to our system."

The enhanced imaging technology now means that when scanning passports and driving licenses, automatically registering new patients is now a possibility. The quality is so good, said Pettit, that images can be automatically entered into the system for future verification.

Pocket or work surface?

The second factor behind the choice of Honeywell was reliability. The average clinic may have four to six devices that are permanently in use. The devices spend most of the day out of their charging station, either on desks or in the pockets of clinic staff, being used in the laboratory, the store room or even in the operating theatre. But due to the enhanced battery life of the Dolphin 70e, the devices operate throughout the entire shift without downtime.

Due to its rugged design, the Honeywell products are also resistant to fluids, including harsh cleaning chemicals, meaning that customers impeccable hygiene standards can also be easily maintained.

Should support or repair be required, IMT's partnership with Renovotec offers peace of mind and ensures product maintenance is kept at the highest level.

"The volume of hardware device support required from our customers has reduced significantly since we've started to roll-out the Honeywell devices," said Heywood.

"This means that our customers' staff can just get on with their critical work throughout their clinics, knowing that our Matcher software can be used wherever they require."

The first batch of Honeywell devices were deployed in November 2013 and, as yet, no machine has been sent back for repair. If there is an issue with any device it can now be picked up quickly through enhanced remote access software. A central console can monitor the performance of the devices in each clinic and can provide support or upgrades if and when needed, which saves on 'down-time' for the device.

"Renovotec were able to provide the best support and repair package, and match the competition on price," said Heywood. "We feel very happy having them as a partner in the growth of our business."

Savings across the clinic

This combination of performance and reliability is already creating clear benefits to IMT and its network of clinics.

The ability to witness data capture remotely is particularly useful at times of staff shortage, e.g. weekends, staff holidays and maternity leave, when risks of error can be higher.

For larger clinics this has allowed them to reduce overtime hours and cost, and/or headcount. For smaller clinics this allows them to increase productivity and prove compliance with regulatory requirements that would otherwise be very difficult given limited resources.

Due to the WPA-2 connection, IMT has also been able to operate the devices securely through clinics' existing wi-fi networks. This avoids duplication, enhances their healthcare data security, and also makes good financial sense as no second network needs to be installed.

By eliminating manual paper work the embryologists and other users can save huge amounts of time, said Heywood. "They used to spend hours and hours filling in paperwork to track all the consumables they use each day" he noted. "But now they can just scan the existing label on each batch and it takes no time at all."

Reliable error reduction

For IMT, the Honeywell Dolphin 70e simply provides a more reliable device that requires less support. For users in clinics it provides a faster solution that saves even more time compared to alternative traceability methods.

By implementing the Honeywell devices as a key part of the Matcher system, clinics can provide full traceability, comply with regulation, prevent error, reduce risk and save time and cost.

But most importantly, the patient experience is assured to be a smooth one, as Heywood concludes:

"If there is one factor underpinning our entire industry it's that patients have peace of mind. Most patients will only directly interact with our system for a short time, but that time is potentially life changing. The Dolphin 70e is incredibly quick and easy to use, meaning no time is wasted during clinics complex procedures, but what really matters is that it works first time, every time."

"We have to focus on the human side of our job, so it's extremely gratifying to know Honeywell is handling the patient's data effectively. It's the backbone of our business."

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