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By: Patient Safety Movement Foundation Board Members, Dr. Steven Barker and Omar Ishrak
The healthcare industry has undergone numerous changes in the last decade, but one area that has seen the most expansive growth has been the medical technology (Medtech) space. Medtech is a broad term and encompasses everything from making devices smaller, more intelligent, and more powerful to enhancing monitoring, improving communication through telemedicine, increasing data capture, and more. While a diverse category, these advancements all have the ability to play an integral role in patient safety.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way healthcare is delivered and has brought patient safety to the forefront. It triggered the need for healthcare to embrace video connections and leverage technology to support staff management through data. It also accelerated the use of portable technologies that make it possible to send patients home on the same day of major surgery, such as a knee or hip replacement, to free up hospital space. However, one of the key ways Medtech improves patient safety is through the use of advanced monitoring devices. Two examples include:
One study analyzed the results of both pulse oximeters and wireless patient sensors across 71 general care beds in two units and found that the enhanced monitoring system received high staff satisfaction ratings and significantly improved key clinical elements related to early recognition of changes in patient state. These included reducing average vital sign data collection time by 28%, increasing patient monitoring time (rate ratio 1.22) and improving the availability and accuracy of patient information.
Beyond simply having this technology available, proper implementation and adoption are key to seeing successful results. In fact, health systems need to embrace the idea that technology itself isn’t a solution, but it is a tool. Therefore, when exploring solutions, here are three steps that need to be addressed:
As we see the influx of technology innovation and growth within the healthcare industry, it’s important that we come together to conquer the hurdles in the process of adoption in order to improve patient safety.
About the authors:
Steven Barker, Ph.D., MD, is a professor emeritus of anesthesiology at the University of Arizona. He has also been involved with Masimo Corporation, a world leader in medical technology, since its beginnings in 1990 and now serves as Masimo’s chief science officer and member of its board of directors. He is actively involved with the Patient Safety Movement Foundation (PSMF) and serves on its board of directors.
Omar Ishrak is a global healthcare and technology thought leader with 35 years of experience using technology to innovate, invent and disrupt healthcare. Ishrak served as chairman and CEO of Medtronic from 2011-2020. He currently serves on the Patient Safety Movement Foundation’s board and is chairman of the board of directors at Intel.