A Proof-of-Concept Google Glass Hospital Environmental Services Task Management App

Lots of folks are creating incredible Glass apps for physicians, especially to supplement, or even replace, EHR user interfaces. But no one, to my knowledge, is working on a Glass task management system for cleaning and stocking hospital rooms. While this aspect of environmental services has special wrinkles, such as dealing with isolation rooms where extraordinary measures must be taken, there’s also a lot to take for granted. Much patient experience depends on (at least) clean and well-stocked patient rooms. So I thought — patients checking in and out, peripatetic housekeepers, peripatetic supervisors, checklists — hey what about Glass!

Now, I’ve programmed in lots of languages, and I knew one thing, I didn’t want to write a lot of buggy, unmaintainable code… I wanted this Glassware built the modern way, on a BPM platform. BPM stands for Business Process Management. What’s cool about BPM is that you can draw a workflow and a workflow engine can execute it.

It just so happened, about this stage in my thinking, I had a Twitter conversation with @mrappian (Malcolm Ross, VP, Product, @Appian)

One thing led to another and here I am at Appian World 2014. (#Appian14 on Twitter.) I’m on a panel about BPM and mobile (representing Google Glass). And I’m helping demo … well, it doesn’t even have a name. It’s a proof-of-concept integration between Appian’s BPM Software Suite and Glass, and the use case is, wait for it, hospital environmental services task management. At least that’s the way I think of it. It could also be used in hotels and institutional living venues.

The rest of this blog post is about the process by which, the, uh, shoot, let’s call it “Glass House”, came to be and how it works on Glass. I’m going to skip over important work without which this app would not be possible, creating the drag-and-drop smart adapters real programmers had to write to connect Appian BPM Software Suite to Glass. Once these adapters were created, Malcolm Ross picked my brain for about an hour and created the following drawing of Glass House workflow….


… and created the following process model in Appian Process Modeler.


Then Malcolm demoed Glass House for me.

The rest of screen shots are from the Glass House demo here at Appian World 2014.

We’ll explore Glass House top-down.

The house keeping supervisor steps of the elevator and snaps a photo of the floor’s QR code.


Glass House retrieves the following dashboard.


Tapping the dashboard retrieves specific room-level information.


Alternatively, the supervisor pauses before a room, snaps that QR code…


… and reviews that room’s cleaning history.


The supervisor can leave a comment (posting to a secure Twitter-like activity stream shared by environment services staff).


Mark the room unclean.


Request clean.


Now, suppose the super bumps into a housekeeper. The housekeeper’s photo retrieves name, employment history, ….

(The background of the following screenshot is the photo of myself I took with Glass. Appian matched it against a database and retrieved my list of tasks.)


… and open tasks.


That’s the core of Glass House. There are other options, such as Report Incident, that’d feed a potential incident reporting system. One could imagine adding more functionality, such as different kinds of checklists for different kinds of room. Retrieving videos of how to clean and maintain a room. Recording video of how the room is services for quality assurance purposes.

This was just the Glass portion of the app. During process model execution, data flows to and fro, to fully-featured cross-platform apps on smartphone and tablet apps, as well as to the desktop app. These apps have more functionality, such as looking up open tasks assigned to you and various status and productivity reports, all created automatically by the underlying BPM platform.

Important to note: Appian BPM Software Suite has hundreds of adapters and can talk to other information systems. It’s a full-fledged SMAC BPM platform. SMAC stands for Social, Mobile, Analytics, and Cloud. Is Glass House missing something? Add it. Use the same process modeling process used to so quickly create Glass House in the first place. Add external and internal (secure) social media functionality. Add other device platforms, as Appian makes them available, without having to change the process model. Leverage workflow analytics to find and eliminate bottlenecks. Add steps to insure compliance with new regulatory requirements. Run it in the cloud. All of which are exactly where health IT needs to go.

Glass House is a proof-of-concept Glass app. Glass isn’t even available for purchase, except through various special programs intended to improve it. However, Appian BPM Software Suite was easily integrated with Glass, and once done so, was easily used to create the respectable bare bones of an environmental services task management app.

Speaking strictly for myself, I do hope (and expect, but again, I am not privy to any special knowledge) that Appian builds on the work of its smart developers (and process modelers). I’d love to see more Appian-style BPM in healthcare.

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  1. Saket
    Posted September 26, 2014 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Chuck, this is an awesome article. I am a BPM consultant and had an opportunity to train on Appian 7. The idea of integrating BPM with Google Glass seems to be very refreshing and innovative.


  2. chuckwebster
    Posted September 26, 2014 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Thanks S!

    Have any links to interesting related content? I live here in DC (Appian is based nearby). Would love to see more Appian projects in healthcare, especially.


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