5033 Sirona Dr., Ste. 800
Charlotte, NC 28273
In an industry where companies often come and go, it’s noteworthy to find one with staying power. Suffice it to say that EQ2—a Charlotte, N.C.-based provider of CMMS software and service solutions for the healthcare sector—fits into this category. Below, six members of EQ2’s executive team—Marketing and Communications Manager David Lawless, Chief Technology Officer Vishal Malhotra, Software Architect Navneet Agarwal, Director of Sales Kim Stovall, Product Manager Rich Sable, and CEO Joe Eichberger—discuss what led to the company’s creation 25 years ago and why the future of EQ2 looks brighter than ever.
24×7 Magazine: Given this is the Silver Anniversary for EQ2, can you please tell us a little bit about the company’s origins and how it has evolved over the years?
David Lawless: To really understand the history of EQ2, you also need to know about the history of our flagship product: “HEMS®.” The acronym stands for “Hospital Equipment Management System”, which is so appropriate since it was originally designed specifically as a CMMS for hospitals—and it continues to be so to this day.
The University of Vermont, the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE), and the Kellogg Foundation got together in 1983 to create HEMS. Then in 1993 the company known as EQ2 was formed to make HEMS commercially available. And in the 25 years since, EQ2 has remained “Dedicated Entirely to Healthcare” which simply means that we are always evolving the CMMS to meet the evolving needs of healthcare.
Kim Stovall: These needs are so specific that a system really needs to have that focus. Often other products are trying to meet the needs of several different industries at once, which are often not consistent with healthcare’s needs. So that is why we are so proud to celebrate our silver anniversary this year.
Vishal Malhotra: The evolution includes serving the needs of more and more areas of the hospital: HTM, Imaging, Facilities, IT, and Environmental Services. The product is built in a way that addresses the needs for hospitals today, but is still nimble enough to evolve and meet the ever-changing requirements for this unique industry. This is true whether it was developing the integrations necessary for connections to numerous smart medical devices through “Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise Patient Care Device” (IHE PCD), communicating with ERP systems, recall systems, RTLS, or AEM management tools.
EQ2 was and early adopter and a contributor of IHE PCD going back to 2010, with the vision of increased requirement of interconnectivity of medical devices in the future. Interconnectivity is more important now as most of the new medical devices are becoming “Smart” devices and are becoming part of IoT.
24×7 Magazine: What would you say separates EQ2 from its competitors in the CMMS market?
Rich Sable: When I used HEMS as a Biomed, its ease of use really stood out. The interface is intuitive, which, now that I work for the company, I realize is due to such a strong architectural structure. Also, our AEM dashboard really stands out since determining eligibility for AEM by device type both currently and into the future is automated. It also enables a biomed to set the proper intervals and procedures and ensure compliance with established policies to meet the requirements of Federal, State, Medicare, the Joint Commission, or DNV.
Navneet Agarwal: HEMS is designed so we can introduce new modules like the AEM Dashboard as the market needs evolve. We understand how to select and present the data to match the needs of the various hospital functions. This comes about from our experience of having worked hand-in-hand with hospitals for so many years.
24×7 Magazine: For what products and services is EQ2 best known? And what recent or upcoming product announcements are you most excited about these days?
Rich Sable: I think AAMI 2018 was a perfect example of what we are known for, combined with exciting new product announcements and demonstrations of our intuitive interface. We showed visitors to our booth how HEMS addresses every maintenance and compliance scenario that they asked about. We announced our next generation mobile app, new department dashboard, and ADFS for single sign-on. And Vishal presented our market leading IHE-PCD integrations at the AAMI Interoperability Experience.
Vishal Malhotra: In addition to what Rich mentioned, I am also excited about some of our new interfaces with vendors that provide unique services like oneSOURCE, PartsSource, and ServiceNow. We just recently announced our interface with oneSOURCE Documents that allows direct access to manufacturers manuals, IFUs, PM documents, End of Life letters, AEM information, etc. from a link right inside of the equipment record. So biomeds don’t need to store physical copies or go searching on their own to obtain manuals.
Navneet Agarwal: Let me add, HEMS has the ability to detect devices connected on a hospital’s network and display important information about those devices so that the user can take action as needed such as securing the network from an unauthorized intrusion.
24×7 Magazine: Why should a manager of a clinical engineering or HTM department choose EQ2’s CMMS solutions?
Rich Sable: When I was a Biomed Manager, we used HEMS to manage recalls through the ECRI interface, maintain compliance with the help of real-time dashboards, and simply appreciated the day-to-day ease of managing maintenance for PMs and CMs. As mentioned earlier, AEM is so important and I am proud that the HEMS dashboard is so complete.
Vishal Malhotra: HEMS is a complete, intelligent solution. It provides the HTM department exactly what it needs for success without depending on the user to tell the system what it needs to do. It is configurable to your hospital’s unique needs, but doesn’t require spending countless hours trying to figure out what you need from it.
Kim Stovall: We alluded earlier to the fact that the entire philosophy of EQ2 and of the HEMS product is one of commitment to the needs of healthcare. So the peace of mind that this gives an HTM department, Imaging, Facilities, etc. is invaluable. Day to day maintenance is made easier, but you’ll also be completely prepared for your next inspection or audit. Further, as those requirements may change in the future, HEMS will be there to accommodate whatever is needed.
24×7 Magazine: Is EQ2’s HEMS solution suited for any size or type of hospital? Can it also be utilized by a health system with multiple locations, such as clinics and care centers?
Kim Stovall: Because it is modular, it is well suited to any size and type of hospital or medical center. A hospital just picks the modules that are most important to it and that it can afford and gets started. Later, if it chooses, it can add more modules, an additional service area, or more locations. And a user can chose to install HEMS on their server or subscribe to it via our SaaS offering depending on their needs. All of this means any healthcare organization can achieve optimal maintenance management and compliance.
Rich Sable: Also it definitely meets the needs of single locations or a large enterprise with many locations. Due to all of the acquisitions in healthcare, a CMMS needs to be able to scale up quickly as new locations are added into the fold. HEMS is designed to effectively handle this and we have a team that thoroughly works through data standardization and other implementation processes to make sure that the transition goes smoothly from a CMMS standpoint. As all HTM pros know, it’s really important that you are comparing apples to apples when reviewing data sets or dashboards when adding a new location.
24×7 Magazine: How do you see the CMMS market evolving in the future and how do you foresee EQ2 playing a role in it? What kinds of innovations might we expect to see?
Joe Eichberger: AI will play a growing role in healthcare. Now that so much data is being generated and collected within hospitals, new applications are being developed to take that data and make the jobs of clinicians and technicians easier. It will also help hospital leadership to make great decisions. With the growing influx of seniors needing hospital care, more efficient and effective management of resources will become even more important.
Maintenance management and compliance linked into the entire hospital management infrastructure can help to reduce costs while improving outcomes. AI, more models and algorithms will enable CMMS and other software to help raise productivity while not losing sight of the hospital’s unique people mission.
Vishal Malhotra: Some examples of this would be equipment replacement planning, reporting on errors and real device utilization, and smart insights at the model specific level are coming. These insights will enable optimal lifecycle management where cost of ownership can be kept to a minimum, and models that are not performing to standards will be isolated allowing the better ones to rise to the top.