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Healthcare device maker boosts production with data quality

One of the world's biggest ventilator manufacturers ramped up production during the pandemic by improving its own data health to better understand and optimize operations.

Good data quality can help organizations ensure they have the right data to make decisions. For Vyaire Medical, improving data quality was critical to helping save lives during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vyaire Medical, based in Chicago, is one of the world's biggest medical device manufacturers, with operations in 40 countries. Among the devices the company produces are the healthcare ventilators that were in dramatically high demand as the pandemic took hold in early 2020.

By using data quality technology from data platform vendor Talend and AWS cloud data services, Vyaire was able to scale ventilator production from 30 ventilators a week before the pandemic to 600 ventilators per day by mid-2020.

Leading Vyaire data quality efforts is CIO Ed Rybicki, who joined the company in late 2018. Vyaire was formed in 2016 as a standalone business that had formerly been the respiratory products division of global medical device manufacturer Becton Dickinson.

A healthcare firm faces low data quality and poor data health

As a relatively new standalone business when he joined, Vyaire in 2018 only had a set of basic capabilities for data management and data analytics, Rybicki noted.

Ed Rybicki, CIO and SVP, VyaireEd Rybicki

"We had people grabbing data out of systems and sending Excel spreadsheets around, but that was as sophisticated as it got," Rybicki said. "Given where we started, name an issue and we had it. There were quality issues; there were lack-of-trust issues."

Further, Rybicki recounted that when he joined, a key executive in the company told him that he got five reports every day about new orders from different employees, with each report saying something different. The executive had little idea what data was correct.

To help fix that situation, Rybicki built out a Business Intelligence Center of Excellence to optimize the use of data across the organization.

Improving healthcare with better data health and data quality

As Vyaire was expanding its data efforts, Rybicki's team started out with a basic set of key performance indicators to gauge metrics such as basic revenue, sales and order tracking.

"Then COVID hit and we as a company were determining how to ramp up to the levels of orders that were coming in," Rybicki said.

In early 2020 as the pandemic's spread accelerated, Vyaire was embarking on a new mission with a new CEO and CFO and a new head of the company's ventilator product line.

Screenshot of Talend cloud management dashboard
Talend's cloud management dashboard handles organizations' data integration and data quality tasks.

All those new executives were forced to work remotely due to the pandemic. At that point, Rybicki said data was critical to enabling the executive team to make decisions. Vyaire went from producing six ventilators a day, or 30 a week, to 600 a day that were destined for healthcare providers around the world.

Data became obviously absolutely pivotal for us and you can say that at any time in any company, but when you're making life-saving devices in the middle of pandemic, and you're trying to ramp your production up, the data needs were obviously key to making that successful.
Ed RybickiCIO, Vyaire

"Data became obviously absolutely pivotal for us and you can say that at any time in any company, but when you're making life-saving devices in the middle of pandemic, and you're trying to ramp your production up, the data needs were obviously key to making that successful," Rybicki said.

One of the key metrics that Vyaire had to ramp up as it scaled ventilator production was a manufacturing benchmark known as first pass yield, which measures the number of units produced in a production run that don't have defects.

Rybicki explained that Vyaire made a ventilator that had to pass through about 21 different manufacturing stations before it was completed.

Each station involved a test for product quality and regulatory controls. A device can only move on to the next stage after passing the previous stage's test. With data, Rybicki said his team realized that only 20% of devices were getting through all the stages for a complete first pass yield.

"We were never going to be able to get to a high scale with that kind of quality rate," Rybicki said. "Using data really helped the engineering and manufacturing teams to nail down what was failing."

Inside the Vyaire data health architecture

Vyaire has built out an AWS cloud-based architecture to help handle its data requirements.

Manufacturing and operations data funnels into a data lake where Amazon Redshift is used as a cloud data warehouse and Amazon QuickSight is used for business intelligence.

The Talend Data Fabric platform fits in by helping to enable data quality across the Vyaire data infrastructure.

Rybicki explained that Talend is a primary interface for data that is coming from different sources to help ensure accuracy. Talend is a component of a master data management effort at Vyaire to identify duplicate entries and provide a means to consolidate information.

Rybicki said that Talend also enables Vyaire to do data integration as data comes into the cloud.

"The fact that we have so many sources that need to be integrated just to get a holistic view, from a basic company operations standpoint, that's where Talend has really helped us," Rybicki said.

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