Meet Quality Assurance Engineer Ed Otero

Ed Otero - Tel-Tron Quality Assurance Engineer.

Tel-Tron is constantly developing and delivering new and improved products to help senior living companies and the seniors they serve. An extremely important part of the product development process is ensuring the design meets Tel-Tron’s high standard for quality.

Ed Otero is Tel-Tron’s Quality Assurance Engineer, responsible for final testing and validation of new and existing product designs before they become actual products. Ed has been working with healthcare technology since 1986, involved in installing, maintaining, and testing of systems within hospitals and residential communities.

“I have always kept in the front of my mind that any and all products I touch could at any point in time be used to save someone’s life. This is the reason I have always taken extra care and pride in making sure that what I work on is tested and retested.”

Ed understands the negative impact a product defect can have on community operations and seniors’ lives. “I have always kept in the front of my mind that any and all products I touch could at any point in time be used to save someone’s life,” says Ed. “This is the reason I have always taken extra care and pride in making sure that what I work on is tested and retested.” 

Ed works diligently testing a Tel-Tron wireless transmitter

Ed works diligently at testing a Tel-Tron wireless transmitter

During the testing process, no product is released until it has passed every single test from start-to-finish and the product development team, including Ed, is satisfied that the product is worthy of release. “The tests are numerous and repetitive, and we push our products to the max to ensure that we are delivering only quality products,” Ed says. “I’m very proud to be a member of the Tel-Tron team and knowing that I am doing my part ensuring that every product that touches my hands or goes out the door could be responsible for saving someone’s life.”

Tel-Tron Project Management: A Behind the Scenes Look at a Team Devoted to Your System, Satisfaction and Success

Tel-Tron Project Management: A behind the scenes look at a team devoted to your system, satisfaction and success

During my career here at Tel-Tron, I have held a few different positions. As much as things have changed for me personally, a single philosophy has always stayed the same­ —ensure that our customers have the confidence that they can rely on their emergency call systems to save lives, every day. Most recently, I have had the privilege to work with the Project Management department, a team of dedicated people who prove their devotion to this philosophy day in and day out. I have witnessed many projects through all stages, from the time they are sold to our customers to years after they have been in use.

I’d like to take you behind the scenes, to give you a glimpse of all of the important work to which we devote our time and energy for the benefit of you, our customers.

Working With You

Our Tel-Tron Project Managers are professional, experience individuals focused on your success. Tel-Tron Project Managers are the great group of guys responsible for installing and maintaining your Tel-Tron solution. And whether it’s getting extra or replacement parts sent overnight, working with technical support and engineering, or something or as simple as looking up phone numbers, the project management staff have a supportive, and equally dedicated, team behind them.

Planning and Preparing

Our project managers develop close relationships with our customers since they often spend the most face-to-face time with them. Because of this, we feel personal responsibility to our customers and their residents. The interactions project managers have with residents are typically brief, but tend to be the most memorable to them, and stick in their mind. It’s ultimately the residents that we are all serving, and why we take the time to make sure every device works properly so that your staff receives each and every emergency call.

From the moment an emergency call system is sold, our project management staff begins making contact with the customer, assuring them that we are preparing for and looking forward to taking on their project. Since there are usually several prerequisite items that we need before we can properly install a system, so we rely heavily on the commitment and cooperation of our customers in the planning and preparation for a project. These items are requested of the customer before or during our Kick-Off Meeting.

Kick-Off Meeting

Kick-Off Meetings are designed to bring everything to the table regarding the upcoming installation of a system. More importantly, this meeting is to set the stage for the entire project, by setting expectations for obstacles, benefits, and features, as well as training and support during the life of the system.

Our customers don’t always understand the purpose of this meeting and the value can sometimes be difficult to articulate. But during the meeting, we ask important questions to make sure that the end result is what our customer is expecting. Issues that no one anticipated can come up in this meeting, which results in the reevaluation of products, protocol, and/or timelines. Regardless of the issue, we always resolve it quickly to ensure the installation will have your desired outcomes.

Installation

For weeks prior to your installation, the Tel-Tron project management team is reviewing, researching, discussing, and verifying everything about your project. They are well-versed in what and where product is to be installed, as well as many other intimate details about your community and the residents you care for.

A Tel-Tron Project Manager Assists a Customer with Installation

Once the product shipment arrives, the installation is ready to begin. You are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Tel-Tron project manager you spoke with during the Kick-Off Meeting. As soon as he arrives, he and his team get to work, moving swiftly around your community installing product, testing the system, and training you and your staff. As quickly as the time came, the time has now passed, and your system is now fully-installed and you are now saying goodbye with handshakes, smiles and maybe a hug. You’re excited about how much easier your life and the lives of your staff and residents will be.

Post-Installation

The project management team discusses your project immediately after installation to review any and all aspects of the project. We discuss issues that may have caused difficulty, in order to learn and improve our processes.

We as a team continuously talk about new ways of installing our product to create the best outcomes. Whether it’s the best position of a wireless device on a door, or where in a resident unit is the most convenient and effective location for product placement, our team never stops thinking of new ways to improve what we do when serving you and your residents.

Feedback

We often hear positive comments on the project managers’ performance and how their work has improved the resident’s quality of life as well as the staff’s work experience. These comments give our project managers a deep sense of satisfaction, knowing that their efforts have made an impact in saving a life.

As one of the many people behind our great project management team, I am always proud when I hear a happy customer rave about the terrific experience they’ve had. We want to hear from you! If you have had a noteworthy experience with our project management team, or have any questions or suggestions for us, please let us know.

VERY Key Metrics – Ignore At Your Own Peril

Tel-Tron powers the systems technology at roughly 1,000 retirement communities, improving the quality of life for over 100,000 residents. We work with over 200 senior living clients and have a very long-term understanding of the good, bad and ugly of senior housing management.  I’ve been tempted to start a blog series on things I would do if I owned a senior living company or community.   Given the challenges we’ve helped folks through this week,  that temptation is growing harder and harder to resist.

Let’s consider this post the prologue to that series, which will provide a behind-the-scenes, outsider’s, perspective on some very fundamental changes senior living executives could implement that would change everything for them.  Here is an example.

Visual Management of Staff Response to Resident Emergencies

Here are a few snapshots from a daily dashboard – available to any Tel-Tron user – from Auditrak.com.  Check out these statistics and see if you agree with my recommendations.  This is a real-life 80 unit assisted living community, with a fairly aged population.  The staffing levels are similar to sister communities of similar size, but the needs here are apparently greater than the staff can handle effectively without intervention.

Take a look at the activity level for just the last 24 hours on this real-life emergency call system.  What we see is a disaster. If I were the Executive Director of this community, this would have my undivided attention.  What I see is that in the last 24 hours, there have been 74 emergency calls, most of which originated from a resident pushing their wireless necklace pendant.  The balance were from pull cords in the bedroom, with only a small number of alarms originating from a pull station in the bathroom.

Daily Activity Snapshot

THE AVERAGE RESPONSE TIME IS 42 MINUTES!!!!  The longest alarm took 6 hours.  One has to assume that the 6 hour alarm has some explanation, but the average is 42 minutes.  In fact, a resident living at this community would be far better served by calling 911, rather than using the emergency call system installed in the community.  What, I ask you, other than poor training, indifference, lack of understanding could cause the people responsible for caring for these residents to think this average is acceptable.

Let’s look at a Chart 2, also for the last 24 hours, which will show us the call distribution by hour for the last 24 hours.  What we see is that the average number of calls per hour is approximately 4.  There appears to be a peak before the dinner hour, and again between 10pm and midnight.  Even still, these peaks only represent 7-9 calls an hour.  Not a very heavy workload by any measure.

Chart 2

Next, let’s take a look at some performance gauges that this community has set for itself, using their own targets, in the three areas relative to staff response.

Performance Gauges

We already discussed the average response time.  Notice their own internal target is 5 minutes, with 8 minutes being allowed.  The longest response time has been discussed already, too.  The last metric, % of responses outside their target threshold, 72%.  An overwhelming majority of their resident emergencies are taking staff longer than 5 minutes to respond.  I know.  Not every alarm is an emergency.   However, there is no way to know the real alarms from the non-emergency alarms until staff responds.  It is imperative to treat each alarm as the real thing, or else when there is a real alarm it will be a disaster.  Worse yet, an avoidable one brought on by complacency.

Last chart.  This one is about profitability, which may make hiring more (or better) staff a reality for this community.  This is a chart that shows the top users of the emergency call system.  Take a look.

Frequent Users (and abusers)

Remember, there were 74 emergency calls in the last 24 hours.  These 7 residents alone accounted for 71% of the calls placed over that period.  They should be paying more than others.  Whoever is in room 218, if this is continuous over time, should be paying even more than the other 6.  They are using the emergency call system 3X as often as the person who is number 3 on the list.  Assuming each alarm takes 5-10 minutes of staff time, this single resident is getting 1-3 hours of staff time  – daily – that other residents aren’t receiving.  I’d charge for that somehow.

Surely there are a number of factors that go into determining how much a resident pays for assisted living services.  The amount of staff time consumed by excessive use of the call system should be among them.

These are just a few examples of the kind of data that is available on the Auditrak.com service.  These 4 charts are on a daily dashboard that is emailed to executive directors (if they request it), making review of the numbers almost effortless.  Failing to review these numbers – which is apparently the case at this community – results in poor performance across the board.  My guess is that their resident surveys aren’t that great either.

All Senior Living Communities Are The Same!

Exhibit ASeriously.  Take a look at the web sites for the top senior living providers and see if you can spot the differences between them.  I’ve posted a few screen shots from a few just to prove the point.  Look at the mission statement graphic.  Is there a senior living company in existence that doesn’t claim to do ALL of those same things?

  • Friendly/Caring Staff
  • Beautiful Rooms
  • Great Food Service
  • Fun Activities and Social InteractionExhibit B
  • Regular Laundry Services
  • Transportation as Needed
  • 24 hour emergency response system
  • Etc., Etc., Etc.

So it is reasonable to assume all senior living communities are the same based on what they “claim” to be able to provide.  Deeper understanding isn’t necessary.  The only method to choose one from another would be whichever is cheapest.  Make sense?  It’s only where you will likely live the rest of your life.

To a person, my clients would say that is a ridiculous assertion.  And they would be right.

Having been in literally hundreds of retirement communities all over the United Exhibit CStates I can say with certainty that while the list of offerings is similar, all senior living communities are NOT the same.

In about 100 ways that don’t show up well on paper, I could easily describe the difference between a run-down old building, with criminal care givers, operated by a fly-by-night company and a well run, thoughtfully built and superbly managed senior living community – maybe even operated by a equally high quality corporate owner.  Every senior living executive knows instinctively that not all senior living companies, or communities, are created equal.  Far from it!

So help me with this.  Some of those same senior living executives – decision makers –believe that there is equality between all emergency call system providers simply because they claim to offer similar services.  For example, most of us claim to provide:

Does not the same logic apply to our industry and theirs?  You can’t have it both ways.  Isn’t it the design, manufacture and delivery of products and services that makes ALL the difference?  Of course.  There seems to be a strong desire for the flexibility that comes from buying commodity products – multiple sources, hyper-competitive pricing, etc.  But just pretending that a market is commoditized doesn’t make it true.  It does, however, alter your perceptions – incorrectly and potentially dangerously.

If you are using a commodity-based mentality to judge a non-commodity product/service you will make two mistakes.  1) You will assume the low price companies are decent quality and just being competitive.  Wrong.  They are inexpensive because they are cheap and poorly made.  2)  You will assume the high price companies are not better than the low price guys, they are just out of touch with current market prices.  Wrong again.

Being the Designer and Manufacturer Matters

Making A Difference

Delivering On The Promise 78 Times and Counting

In about 100 ways that don’t show up well on paper, I could describe the difference between a cheap PC based system, integrated with generic wireless components made by someone else, delivered by a clueless bunch of software guys, and a highly specialized emergency call system, made in America by a company that has invented nearly every feature of modern life safety systems, delivered and supported by the most experienced and committed emergency call professionals in the world.

So, no.  Not all senior living communities are the same. Neither are emergency call companies.

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