COVID Series: The Promise of Thermal Imaging


Bill Russell / Jill Klein / Jeff Kenkel

About this guest...

Share Now...

Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on email

Show Sponsor(s)

June 29, 2020:  Thermal imaging is one of those technologies that really finds itself at the right place at the right time. It’s not a silver bullet, but it gets us a long way towards reopening our society and returning to normal. Guests today are Jill Klein and Jeff Kenkel. They discuss the IOT platform, machine learning, integration with AI, the analytics, privacy, security and legalities of this ever evolving technology.

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Thermal imaging and it’s significant impact on health [00:01:00] 
  • It started in the 1960s with US military applications [00:02:30]
  • The accuracy of sensor technology [00:03:30]
  • Most of the solutions coming to market right now are being paired with an IOT platform, which brings the machine learning and the AI and the analytics, to these things, to help, provide [00:05:30] notifications or to do a detection of face masks or whatever else, a technology they add on at the time.
  • How this technology was used for SARS [00:06:30]
  • The integration with AI [00:10:00] 

COVID Series: The Promise of Thermal Imaging with Jill Klein & Jeff Kenkel

Episode 272: Transcript – June 29, 2020

This transcription is provided by artificial intelligence. We believe in technology but understand that even the smartest robots can sometimes get speech recognition wrong.

[00:00:00] Bill Russell: Welcome to This Week in Health It where we amplify great thinking to propel healthcare forward. My name is Bill Russell, healthcare, CIO, coach, and creator of This Week in Health IT a set of podcast videos and collaboration events dedicated to developing the next generation of health leaders this episode.

And every episode, since we started the COVID-19 series. Has been sponsored by Sirius healthcare. Special thanks to Sirius for supporting the show’s efforts during the crisis. Don’t forget. We’ve gone to [00:00:30] three shows a week. Now, Tuesday, we cover the news on Tuesday news day, and we have interviews with industry influencers on Wednesday and Friday.

This Friday, however, we are observing a holiday. So we are dropping a show on Monday. I’m always looking for technologies that I think can have a significant impact on health and thermal imaging is one of those technologies that really finds itself at the right place at the right time. It’s not a silver bullet, but it gets us a long way towards reopening our society [00:01:00] and returning to normal.

Today I speak with two industry leaders in the field who I got a chance to hear talk about this section biology back in December. And I don’t think any of us anticipated how important it would become just six months later. I hope you enjoy. All right today, we’re joined by Jill Klein and Jeff Kenkel. Good morning, you two and welcome to the show. 

Jeff Kenkel: Hey, good morning. 

Bill Russell: Today we will explore thermal imaging. And I saw the two of you discuss this topic back in December of last year at [00:01:30] an event that I was speaking at. And, you know, I’m really excited to have the two of you on the show for a deeper dive in this topic. There’s so much application right now. Did you have any idea back in December that this technology will be as important as it is today? Given all the things that have gone on. Jill, how about we start with you. 

Jill Klein: Sure. you know, in December, I don’t think any of us saw or knew what was coming at us. the, the interesting thing about this is that this virus has, helped transform some of these niche solutions like thermal imaging and [00:02:00] kind of put them front and center and I’ve been in it space for probably 25 years. And I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen something. be transformed and reemerged and added, at this pace, updates and, and regulations are happening in real time. So it’s a very exciting and interesting time here. 

Bill Russell: All right. I guess before we get too far into this, we should talk about, you know, what is thermal imaging and get an overview. And Jeff, you are the technologist of the three of us [00:02:30] so why don’t you go into the deep dive on what is thermal imaging. 

Jeff Kenkel: It’s actually very complex. The technology has advanced, massively, just briefly, historically if it’s of interest, it really started in the 1960s with the U S military applications and has advanced since. Back to your original question, I could not imagine what was going to be happening back in December of this past year, but, actually kind of excited cause I think there’s some [00:03:00] very valuable things that not only you can do with this with COVID but to your question, what would you do with COVID but even other diseases and other, situations within theOrganizations going forward.

So, the technology itself measures energy and it measures thermal energy. And it’s a little different than what you see on a camera, but there’s some similarities as well. And, what we’re, what we’re doing is looking at, skin temperature and how that ends up, correlating to [00:03:30] someone’s body temperature.

And we have a good indication of whether somebody is febrile or not. Well, how, how accurate is it at this point? Well, it’s actually, the sensor technology is extremely accurate. And so the challenges that may, make the accuracy change a little bit are the scenarios in which it is, The measurements are taken.

So this thermal sensitivities are phenomenal at less than a 50 millikelvin, sensitivity. So you [00:04:00] can pick up a very, very subtle, temperature changes, but there are many things that have to go on and measuring temperature. So, we like to, to make sure that when we’re working with our customers, But, they, they, we can help them set up so that they can get the best temperatures, temperature, measurements, and accuracy.

So you can get down to a half of a degree of Fahrenheit and accuracy. And that’s generally the spec that, the, reputable camera and thermal imaging, companies provide. All right, so [00:04:30] I’m sure I’m gonna have more technical questions as we go along, but is this the same, same with thermal imaging?

Is this cameras? I can get a $50 thermal imaging thing from best buy or I can get a $5,000 thermal imaging camera from. You know, from somebody else and they, they run the gamut as it is, is it’s sort of the same. That’s absolutely correct. I’d probably say the, the, the ranges are anywhere from, well, you can have real small thermal sensors that you can purchase for [00:05:00] your oven or your grill or in your kitchen.

And those are in the, you know, the sub a hundred dollar range, And then there’s getting into more thermal imaging. You might start around 500 and you can go, is, even above 10,000, depending on your configuration. Just to add, just to add to that. I think one of the advantages that the solutions that are coming to market right now is most of them are being paired with an IOT platform, which brings the machine learning and the AI and the analytics to these things to help, [00:05:30] provide notifications or to do, detection of face masks or whatever else, technology they add on at the time. So that’s interesting. 

Bill Russell: So, all right, so let’s start talking about the applications. So people have gotten this far into the podcast, they’re saying, okay, why is this such a big deal? Why are you guys talking about this today? And I think a lot of people understand that, you know, we’re essentially able to tell if somebody has a, a higher temperature at this point, which is an indication of COVID.

I mean, obviously it’s that it’s dry cough and other things, but this is [00:06:00] one of the early indications of it. So to be able to do that at the door of a facility or before somebody goes into a sporting event or somebody’s you name? It has a lot of, a lot of value. So talk about some of the applications and who do we see using this today?

Jill Klein: So I think, most organizations who have a large amount of employees that they need to bring back to work and they need to do it safely. it’s, it’s serving a critical role in reopening our, our marinas and our airports and our [00:06:30] hospitals, and, you know, basically any place where there’s a large amount of folks that are coming in.

I think it’s, it’s key for those. employers to make sure that they provide that sense of safety to their employees as well, because that’s, you know, part of their responsibility, it reduces their concerns. And you know, the interesting thing is it’s not new. they’ve used this technology with SARS and mirrors and other outbreaks that have happened.

I think one of the things that it does do for us versus a handheld camera, it reduces the time to enter those spaces and enter them safely. 

Bill Russell: We’ll get back [00:07:00] to our conversation with Jill and Jeff in just a moment. Now here’s a brief message about thermal imaging from our sponsor 

Sponsored message: As countries around the world  begin to reopen companies are faced with an unprecedented challenge, finding an effective and discreet way to ensure a safe work environment. Work places of all sizes can use thermal imaging solutions to non-invasively screen workers, customers, or visitors for elevated body temperatures, helping identify those who might be sick.

Autonomous screening systems can be easily [00:07:30] mounted to an entrance wall or cart. Efficiently provide accurate data to a targeted set of users when appropriately used as part of a safe workplace initiative. These advanced solutions can minimize the spread of disease help reduce costs associated with employee illness or show your commitment to protect employees and customers.

For more information about IOT thermal imaging solutions, speak with your Sirius representative. Visit Sirius or call us. At [00:08:00] (800) 460-1237. We are so grateful for our sponsors who allow us to bring this great content to you and really expand our services to the industry now back to our show.

Bill Russell: But there there’s a way to deploy this correctly, right? So, we actually had a pre call yesterday and we were talking about this and some of the things didn’t really dawn on me. but. W we really do have to take a picture in a way that doesn’t take an awful lot of. Things from the [00:08:30] background into account and we almost have to set up a queuing system of some kind for people to get in front of this.

Would one of you share a little bit about what some of the considerations are as you’re deciding how and where you’re going to use this kind of technology? 

Jeff Kenkel: Yeah. So ultimately you want to get people as they’re coming in, but you have to be good. Just a simple, basic example is if you have a door that’s swinging open and that leads out to a parking lot, sort of what you would end up picking [00:09:00] up on that, the blacktop or the asphalt that’s, sitting there.

If it’s been a hot day, that’ll influence the measurement. So you’ve got outside factors that can influence the measurement and there techniques that you can use either in how you place. the cameras and where you set things up and, or equipment that you use to remove some of those, or factor in some of those, variables that can happen with you setting it up.

But ideally you want to place them. So at some point where people were coming in and, and [00:09:30] then as they pass to areas where they’re working, you’ll be able to take a measurement and, or there’s even self measurement technique, second, go on as well. And then depending on what their temperature is, you can decide what the next steps in the process would be is maybe they shouldn’t enter.

Maybe they have to take additional questions that, that, is part of the overall process, or even get another temperature check to verify. 

Bill Russell: Yeah. So, so Jill, you talked about this being integrated with, with AI and I could [00:10:00] see that, you know, so it can actually focus down in, on my face, make sure it’s my face, not the person who’s potentially standing behind me or anything to that effect but we couldn’t it also be integrated into a lot of other like systems? I mean, And actually this is going to lead to a privacy conversation, but the, you know, could it tie into time-tracking couldn’t it tie into just a lot of things, 

Jill Klein: You know, what, what we’re seeing today is, you know, right now everyone is they know that [00:10:30] they have to have some sort of thermal imaging as they bring people back to work. So that’s the demand today. the demand. Tomorrow, is PPE monitoring. It’s contact tracing, it’s integrating with their access controls, social distance monitoring. All those things are coming shortly after this. but in addition to that, that the next phase it’s to truly use those IOT platforms that are, that are joined with these.

So you’ll see smarter businesses happen out of this. You’ll see organizations transform their operations to reduce [00:11:00] costs. they’ll actually, some folks leave would take the data to monetize it that they get from these IOT sensors. It’s a very exciting time in this space. 

Bill Russell: Yeah, I would imagine. So, let’s, let’s talk a little bit about, what’s the best way to say this, the policies that you would put in place at an organization, right? So I’m going to implement this. Maybe, maybe not for a baseball, I’ll just put something on the ticket that says, Hey, you have to pass through thermal imaging. That goes up. But for bringing my people back to work, I’ve had some conversations with CIOs and they’re a part of the overall discussion for the health [00:11:30] system.

The clinical workers have been coming back to work while they never left work. Right. The clinical workers have been there. but now they’re bringing the nonclinical people back and they’re, they’re struggling. And this is probably part of a, an overall solution to make people feel more comfortable and to, providing us a little, another one level security, for, and safety for the organization.

What kind of things are, are people looking at in terms of policies to protect. privacy and those kinds of [00:12:00] things. 

Jill Klein: I guess one of the things that when we start talking to clients, you know, we make sure that they include all the appropriate stakeholders when they have these projects. So those stakeholders are HR.

You need facilities there, you need your security team. legal is very important. safety and health is somebody else that we kind of bring into this group. The other thing that we, we want folks to do is we want them to look at the design first and then determine what solution they need to implement.

look like, as you said, we’ve talked about [00:12:30] location is very important and understanding your traffic flow, how many people are coming through are very important. so there’s a lot of different considerations. It’s something to consider as it’s an extremely high demand. Lots of organizations across America want this and they want it now. So you’ve got a bit of a supply chain and demand scenario going on here as well. 

Bill Russell: You know, Jeff, one of the things I wanted to talk to you about is when you were presenting last December, you were talking about all sorts of applications of putting these in the, in the [00:13:00] patient room. now obviously that has been very focused and very specific.

Now people are looking at. How to address COVID, but it was, it was fascinating to me how much data these things generate and all the potential applications for it. Can you talk a little bit about some of the things we were talking about in December in terms of what can be done with thermal imaging? In the, in the hospital room.

Jeff Kenkel: You, so, so we were talking about thermal imaging in life at that time. but the, the combined combination of the two, you can start to look at [00:13:30] movement, but also then, monitor temperature changes. Right? And this is nice because it allows, real time, data to be communicated. No, depending on what you want to capture, you can generate a lot of data or you can simply just get messages.

that are very small, that would indicate, changes in temperature, different types of movement that might be going on as a result. But we can also, can we also like protect, you know, one of the things is hand washing in the room and it becomes even during a [00:14:00] pandemic becomes even more important. So we can actually monitor some of those movements around the floor from room to room. Right? Well, actually, we’ve been able to show a with POC, with, with, health systems, the weather, even the proper procedures are occurring, right? Sometimes in the rush of the moment a particular step may be missed and, well, let’s not so well, it may be important for, for many different reasons.

But the beauty of it is, is that, we can help, compliance and even something [00:14:30] like bed turns, right. Was a patient turned in their bed. how many times? Right? There’s all sorts of debates as I’m sure you’re well aware within hospitals, about how many times a patient might’ve been turned or not.

Well, you can have effectively, a non, identify, pull a view of, someone actually performing a bed term. Right? So you, you could do this in a private, Oh, I don’t know if I would say HIPAA compliant, but I would say anonymized fashion and know that someone actually did that [00:15:00] procedure in that room at that time.

So the thermal imaging can tell us a lot about what. And the LIDAR can tell us a lot about where, right. And you can combine those two, with, with AI and, and other, I’ll call data orchestration technology, to be able to, to provide some very interesting insights. 

Bill Russell: Yeah. I had, Patrick Anderson, I’m going to ask you guys, you know, for potentially without maybe naming names, but where are you seeing this? Go into it, where this [00:15:30] has been put into place. But Patrick Anderson with City of Hope was talking in one of our code series a podcast. And he talked about how they implemented this almost immediately in their hospitals, at the front door. So that essentially as people were walking in, I think they actually had to walk up to a kiosk, get pretty close to it.

But essentially it monitors the temperature of the people as they were coming in so that they could really identify which staff was potentially at risk because you can’t [00:16:00] test for COVID every day. I mean, it’s a very, it’s actually a, I wouldn’t say it’s a comfortable test that they were doing at the time and they wanted a way to say, okay, Is anybody showing any indication and that we’re going to escalate and do the proper testing for those people?

They did it pretty early on. They identified. Are, are, are you seeing that really generally across the board and in different organizations at this point, Jill, 

Jill Klein: You know, we see it, in manufacturing facilities, we see it in restaurants. Travel. [00:16:30] so, you know, Amazon Toyota, Walmart, Starbucks, carnival cruise lines, all of them are looking at this. So it’s across most industries. 

Bill Russell: Wow. So we can, we can actually have a shortage. And that’s what you were trying to describe before there could be a shortage of. Of this technology, just, just that a supply chain at this point. 

Jill Klein: Correct. 

Bill Russell: Wow. So are we, are we seeing that already or is it, is it, or is there still ample supply of it’s a textbook [00:17:00] scenario for supply, supply and demand?

All right. Is there, is there something that differentiates the software, Jeff? As you’re looking at this, this stuff. 

Jeff Kenkel: Well, there’s a, there’s two different types of, of measurement techniques. one where they’re using, what’s referred to as a calibrator, as black bodies, the, the official name for it, to make sure the measurements are accurate and other uses a sampled average of people.

And, they’re both, accurate, there’s FDA approved models of both, for a five, 10 K [00:17:30] clearance, and, Their software will look for particular places on the face. Some will use different techniques to make sure they’re getting the best quality measurement. And it, it just, it really varies, based on, the, the vendor.

Right. And I, I just, I keep. I think the important point to make here, it’s, it’s really important to work with a consultant or a is system integrator to sort of make the right choices because not all software is the right choice for each environment. and, but you can [00:18:00] usually find something that works just right for our customer.

Bill Russell: Yeah. You know, I didn’t properly introduce to you to start, so I’m actually. It’s it’s typical bill Russell moved here at the end of the show. I’m going to have you to introduce yourself and who you work for. And, you know, in the, in the, you know, And I, you know, how do you support this technology, I guess today? So Jeff, we’ll start with you. 

Jeff Kenkel: So I’m an industry consultant, have had quite a few number of years in healthcare and [00:18:30] technology. I have a graduate degree in electrical optics and just happy to be able to be working in that space inside of healthcare, today. So, again I’m an industry consultant, I guess is probably the easiest way to describe it. I help the industry with picking out thermal imaging solutions.

Bill Russell: Got it. Jill, could you introduce yourself and how you support the technology? 

Jill Klein: Sure. my name is Jill Klein and I am the Senior Leader of IOT at Sirius. I help, [00:19:00] pick the right vendors for our clients. I meet with clients, they do some high level consulting. I also sit on two boards. I sit on comp T as IOT advisory council, and also tech data’s IOT and analytics advisory council. Throughout my career, I’ve been very passionate about it. I started way back when at a small cow spotted company city, South Dakota called gateway. So, it’s been, it’s been a fun ride. Wow. And IOT is really changing the game. We are generating an awful lot of data at the [00:19:30] edge right now. It’s, it’s, it’s interesting.

Bill Russell: We’ve had a couple of conversations, you know, I want to thank you guys for coming on the show. If people want more information on, on thermal imaging, is there a way they can reach out to you or find out more information? 

Jill Klein: Absolutely. is our website and it’s the solutions are out there along with my contact information there as well.

Bill Russell: Yeah. Fantastic. Thanks again for coming on the show. I really appreciate it guys. Thanks bill. That’s all for this week. Special. Thanks to our [00:20:00] sponsors VMware, Starbridge Advisors, Galen Healthcare, Health Lyrics, Sirius Healthcare and Pro Talent Advisors for choosing to invest in developing the next generation of health leaders.

If you want to support the fastest growing podcast in the health IT space. Most of you can say this now without me even finishing it, the best way to do that is to share it with a peer stop. Right now, send an email, tell somebody. Hey, this is a great show. I’m getting a lot out of it. You’re gonna wanna check out these, these interviews and conversations.

The second best way you can do it is you can [00:20:30] subscribe to our YouTube channel. We’re putting a awful lot of new stuff out there and it’s exciting. The live show will only be available on the YouTube channel. It will not be dropped into the podcast channel. Some of you asked me to drop it in last time.

But my team here internally wants me to stay focused on the strategy. And that is to have content that is specific to YouTube and, and to start to diversify our channels, if you will. So, some of that, some of our content will only be available on YouTube. So get over [00:21:00] there and subscribe. So, you know, when it’s available, please spit check back often as we’re going to continue to drop shows.

On a daily basis through the end of June, or until we get through this pandemic together. Thanks for listening. That’s all for now.