HTM professionals are no stranger to IV pumps. Preventative maintenance requirements and clinicians’ high-demand for these vital health care devices keep them almost constantly on the minds of all biomeds from the newest hire to department leaders.
However, technology changes fast and that means software updates and new features can become available at any time. TechNation reached out to a few industry experts to find out more about IV pumps. The members of the roundtable panel include Soma Technology Incorporated’s Ashish Dhammam, Elite Biomedical Solutions Vice President and Co-owner Nathan Smith, J2S Director of Sales and Marketing Sarah Stem, and AIV Incorporated’s Vice President of Sales and Product Development Jeff Taltavull.
Q: What are the most important features to look for when purchasing IV pumps?
Dhammam: The most important features to look for are design, ease of use, training the clinical team, service options, cost of service, and availability of repair parts. If part of a large IDN, system-wide compatability would be the best option to consider. If the pumps are complicated to use with many features, it will confuse users and lead to an excessive amount of errors.
Smith: You have to identify what exactly the needs are of the hospital and find the device that matches those needs. The device should have a track record of reliability, minimal recall or advisory alerts and companies that can help support the device in a timely and cost-effective manner.
Stem: The most important feature to look for would be patient safety software and warranty. Partnering with a company that provides warranty and addresses long-term repair and extended service options will also save the buyer money over time. Another measure buyers should check is the age of the technology and availability of administration sets.
Taltavull: Safety and reliability along with ease of use should be in the forefront of any purchasing decision. Secondly, the facility needs a clear understanding of servicing options on the equipment, both OEM and secondary market. Thirdly, requirements for all necessary tubing sets should be considered to best coordinate long-term financial planning.
Q: How can a biomed extend the life of an IV pump?
Dhammam: Training and proper handling of the pumps by clinical staff would be key to extending the life of the units. Regular maintenance and PMs will extend the life of the pumps (per standards set by the OEM). Maintaining repair logs for each serial number would also help to identify repeated failures or failures due to user errors.
Smith: Identify companies that manufacture “new” replacement parts which can extend the life of a device even when the OEM discontinues support for the device. Also, seek out companies that have OEM-trained technicians who can service these devices in times of need.
Stem: BMETs can extend the life of IV pumps by following OEM-specific preventive maintenance and sterile processing protocols, installing quality batteries and replacement parts, and by partnering with a third party that specializes in drug delivery device repair. Also helpful is continuing education sessions with RN staff which can cut down on repetitive repairs.
Taltavull: The simplest starting point is assuring you maintain the OEM recommended preventive maintenance schedule. Routine maintenance, calibrations and safety checks can eliminate a lot of the simple failures that come along. Make sure all staff have a clear understanding of how to handle and operate equipment under normal circumstances and an understanding of how small things can lead to big repairs and increased costs.
Q: Do hospitals have to buy brand new pumps to get quality IV pumps?
Dhammam: Not necessarily! As long as one is being diligent about buying IV pumps with a warranty, in good condition, and calibrated to OEM specs they should be good. And, they will last as long as new IV pumps. Please note that many large hospital groups are buying refurbished equipment to save on capital spending, and it is becoming a common practice. Software compatibility is vital before committing to purchase a refurbished unit.
Smith: No, they can source units from companies that sell recertified units. Ensure these companies do full calibration on the devices, utilize new parts and take that extra step in ensuring cleanliness in all areas of the device.
Stem: Hospitals can buy quality pre-owned medical equipment with a warranty. Not only does this provide a two-for-one cost savings but it doubles the number of available equipment during high census which keeps patient care the priority.
Taltavull: No, the secondary market can be an excellent source for quality equipment. Purchasing from the secondary market does require some due diligence though. Crucial in that purchase is identifying a high-quality, ISO-certified vendor who not only is willing to provide the product, but will stand behind that product with warranty and downstream service options.
Q: What are the latest advances in IV pumps? How do these advances improve patient care and patient satisfaction?
Dhammam: Wireless functionality, alarm management, the capability of measuring other parameters on the same device like CO2 and SPO2 are some of the advances made. Wireless monitoring of error logs and/or pump failures would be great additions in the future.
Smith: CQI data collection is one feature in smart pumps that allows for hospitals to manage each individual pump and medication delivered. This helps understand where more training is needed with individual nurses and how they are administering the medication. Barcode scanning has also been introduced which minimizes any sort of human error associated with the patient’s information and the medication being used.
Stem: Advancements in IV pump technology include safety software, therapy profiles, alarm management and patient barcoding. From a biomedical perspective, the most exciting advancement would be RFID tracking. This technology allows for expedited service during busy PM times and also during high census when locating lost pumps is essential if trying to avoid costly rentals. As RFID becomes more and more exact, the return on this investment for a hospital’s clinical engineering team will measurably save hospitals time and money.
Taltavull: Smart pumps make it easier to store patient data as well as ease and safety of dosage calculation. Many of the pumps cross multiple delivery platforms using different modules or stacking features that allow a more all-in-one option where historically multiple pumps were needed.
Q: How can purchasers ensure they will receive a good return on investment (ROI) when purchasing IV pumps?
Dhammam: Longevity of the pumps, few to no recalls, low service costs and quick service turn-around times would be key. When making the decision to buy, if clinicians and biomeds are involved in the process, it helps make the best decision for ROI.
Smith: Purchasers can ensure good ROI by identifying quality companies that have a track record of doing the right thing. Also, purchasers should use companies that stand by their product and are willing to work with the customer to find the right solution.
Stem: The best way for a buyer to ensure a healthy ROI is to partner with a provider that delivers an OEM-matched warranty, addresses long-term repair costs, offers training, and delivers competitive financing options. Look for a company that brings all of those aspects to the buyer’s table and allows for the customer to customize a program to ensure it falls within budget. Asking for flexibility on the provider side can also ensure the buyer receives what they need without compromising patient care due to budget constraints.
Taltavull: Doing the front-end homework to identify the best options for their facility has to be the first step. Identifying qualified vendors and understanding the true cost associated with that equipment (i.e. servicing, parts availability, software integration, tubing costs) is important. One of the biggest complaints I hear in the marketplace is that a hospital decided to take on a massive acquisition of equipment that they bought into hook, line and sinker only to later find that they didn’t realize the OEM wouldn’t sell parts, or had mandatory secondary operations or limitations that weren’t understood by all at the onset. It is crucial that a facility’s staff not only evaluate the equipment themselves, but spend some time talking to people who currently own the same equipment and take time to understand their issues and concerns.
Q: How can health care facilities and HTM professionals protect patient data with cybersecurity measures in regards to IV pumps?
Dhammam: An isolated network setup for a hospital with no outside intrusions would be helpful. Protocols need to be set up within every institute to clear all data from the pumps before they are shipped out for service, or sold from the hospital.
Smith: I do know OEMs are incorporating cybersecurity measures into the software of their devices to help prevent attacks.
Stem: Software driven equipment does pose a cybersecurity concern and facilities can address this by implementing strong security protocols. Incorporating firewalls on closed networks where outside access is not possible is common when trying to prevent hackers and protect patient safety.
Taltavull: Cybersecurity continues to be a huge concern in today’s society. While there are huge benefits to the smart pumps and their ability to hold patient specific data, there clearly is an increased risk. Manufacturers are constantly doing updates to their software, so make sure to stay current with all service and upgrade recommendations.
Q: What else do you think is important for TechNation readers to know about IV pumps?
Dhammam: During the purchase process, please have a contract or agreement in place with vendors for service timelines, loaner availability or swapping out pumps; instead of waiting on a pump to be repaired and returned, which is definitely more time consuming.
Smith: There are companies that manufacture new replacement parts and offer off-the-shelf new OEM parts to help support IV devices.
Stem: It’s important for facilities considering new or additional infusion equipment to partner with providers that deliver efficient, reliable and cost-effective solutions. Look for a company that delivers a warranty with all of its products and services for continuous field support. Considering after-market and OEM-alternative parts is a great way to extend the life of a device while preserving capital. IV pumps that are software driven pose connectivity issues, buyers should be sure to match revisions when buying capital or parts to avoid interruption in service.
Taltavull: OEMs are making it harder for end users to have flexible options to controlling their costs. I can’t emphasize how pertinent it is for a facility to do their due diligence when making a buying decision and making sure it includes feedback from all parties who will be using or implementing the product. A facility must understand the long-term costs, long-term servicing options and, more importantly, if there are options. They also need to be responsible when using third-party services on these ever changing pumps. They need to find reliable, educated and ISO-certified repair partners to help control their costs. That can be in depot repair, service parts, or calibration. And, the phrase that I say more than anything is that “Knowledge is the best buying power a hospital can have.”
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