Doing more with less in the operating room
By Matthew Totsky
A Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based startup company is making a mark in the healthcare arena with an innovative system that reduces unnecessary foot traffic in and around hospital operating rooms while also cutting costs.
Quipzor was designed to solve a healthcare issue that many businesses have been dealing with for years: how to do more with less. Its technology is universal and can support virtually all hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers and medical device manufacturers, helping to reduce costs, equipment needs and staff training.
“In the world of healthcare, everyone is trying to make cuts,” says Quipzor president and CEO Mike Weber. “There’s a huge need for cost effectiveness. Typically, the first things to be cut are sales and marketing budgets. This often leads to a significant decrease in field sales and support personnel,” he says, noting that this, in turn, hurts the ability to support medical procedures and products in the operating room. “We’re here to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Quipzor provides a more efficient solution for surgical collaboration between hospitals, physicians and surgical device company representatives, says Weber.
“Our service includes a remote support platform and a surgery scheduling app. It’s been described as FaceTime for surgeons, but it’s really much more than that. FaceTime is not secure and neither is texting photos about which equipment to use during surgery. Cybersecurity is top-of-mind for most businesses these days and in the world of medicine, it’s a very sensitive issue. So we had to take that FaceTime idea a step further.”
Essentially, Quipzor technology allows surgical device manufacturers to support operating room surgeons and staff from a remote location during a procedure. The equipment comprises small cameras in the operating room, with a monitor and keyboard. Quipzor captures video and invites the support of a manufacturer’s representative. The video is routed through a secure server environment that encrypts and safely sends live video to the rep’s smart device. Support is then provided audibly to the OR.
“By allowing one device rep or company to remotely support the product, we can help reduce the impact of restrained resources in the OR,” Weber says. “With our equipment, a company wouldn’t have to fly someone in for a procedure. They can view the procedure remotely and offer feedback on the spot, therefore saving money. So far, we’ve seen that there is a huge need for our technology in remote areas like mid-Michigan and the Upper Peninsula because it cuts down on delays based on rep availability.
“Quipzor technology is a great way to keep the rep informed so they can advise about the proper equipment to use in a surgical procedure,” Weber says. “We help everyone communicate so the right equipment is used at the right time to avoid a last-minute scramble or fire drill-like situation.
There are other benefits, as well.
“By participating in a surgical procedure remotely, Quipzor can help reduce infections and hospital-acquired conditions that may come with having an extra person present in the surgical unit.”
It’s all about the app
Quipzor also offers a scheduling app that can be used in conjunction with its equipment.
“Our app manages communication and offers additional support remotely,” Weber says. “It’s like a group text on steroids. It’s a secure app, in which everyone involved in a medical procedure can communicate and collaborate in real time. It’s another tool that helps doctors and hospital personnel prepare for a procedure while eliminating numerous phone calls and frantic communication.
“Our company differs from others because we put the infrastructure directly in the operating room,” says Weber. “Other companies may have an iPad loaded with marketing materials or how-to forms in one place. Since our focus is on remote support, we don’t have to concern ourselves with a library of materials. We want to connect an outside device expert with the OR. Our cameras are stationary and operated by us as opposed to a nurse holding a smartphone and going through a FaceTime-like experience.”
The power of partnerships
Last year Quipzor was accepted into the Automation Alley entrepreneurship program, the 7Cs. A technology business association focused on driving innovation in Southeast Michigan, Automation Alley’s entrepreneurship team provided assistance and guidance to help accelerate the growth of the company.
“Automation Alley has offered us tremendous support in the local community,” Weber says. “They’ve made introductions that have allowed us to make connections with potential clients and other networking resources. They also provide the resources to help our business run.
“Things are ready to take off at any moment, which is good because the medical field is typically slow to adapt when it comes to IT and technology,” Weber says. “Automation Alley has helped us accelerate the process and teach our clients what to do in a relatively short amount of time.”
The origin of Quipzor
Quipzor was launched by the company’s president, Mike Weber, and chief operating officer, Matt Sullivan, in October 2013.
“I had this idea for years and needed to find the right partner from a business standpoint,” Weber says. “Meeting Matt was a lucky strike. He really helped solidify the business because he has a strong background with contracts and core business work, as well as technology infrastructure.
“My background is in surgical device sales, selling equipment to surgeons in hospitals,” Weber says. “As a sales rep, I’ve had to physically be in operating rooms to advise surgeons about which tools to use and keep the flow of the procedure running smoothly. But inevitably, the issue of cost control will come up. This idea seemed like a no-brainer to me to keep costs down.”
One would think that the two brains behind a cutting-edge technology in the healthcare field might have met at a hospital or medical conference or through typical networking opportunities.
“We actually got to know each other through our wives and kids,” Weber says. “I would run into Matt at school functions and sporting events and eventually got around to telling him my idea. He understood that I was onto something almost immediately. We talked and found that we had unique backgrounds that could be used to help this business really take off. It was like lightning in a bottle.”
Why the name Quipzor?
“’Quip’ comes from the word equipment,” Weber says. “And the ‘or” at the end comes from the abbreviation of ‘operating room.’ We stuck the ‘z’ in the middle because it sounded cool."