The future of infusion therapy is data informed
January 31, 2024
In our increasingly strained healthcare system, the challenges of managing patient safety, clinical workflows, and costs have become more intricate and complex. Transformative solutions are needed in almost every aspect of healthcare delivery. There is a growing expectation, from healthcare providers and patients alike, that new technologies will be available to help deliver better care.
This isn’t an unreasonable expectation. After all, the adoption of new medical technologies has contributed to the evolution of care, treatment options and hospital workflows. It has also introduced complexities. Sometimes, expected benefits have not always materialized.
Given that over 80 per cent of those who visit a hospital will require some form of infusion treatment, infusion care is an important aspect of healthcare that should continually seek out the benefits of new technologies.
Helen Edwards, a registered nurse for 45 years, including over two decades in clinical informatics, recalls the days when nurses had to monitor infusions drop by drop, and manually calculate medication administration rates.
Today, smart pump technology is seen as the standard, incorporating drug libraries and dose error-reduction safety features to help clinicians deliver safer intravenous infusions.
While technologies have advanced, Helen notes that the associated sharing of clinical infusion information has not progressed at the same rate.
“The technological advancements can’t just be about the pump itself,” she says. “We need to look at how each advancement is impacting the entire ecosystem that supports the administration of intravenous fluids and medications, including how we can improve communications across the multiple departments and networks.”
With a range of technologies used in hospitals across the country, enhanced interoperability between infusion devices and other data systems, such as electronic health records (EHRs), presents an opportunity to improve safety and efficiency.
Recently approved in Canada, Fresenius Kabi’s Ivenix Infusion System could be an option to realize the benefits of institution-wide infusion pump integration. With interoperability as a critical feature, the system puts infusion-related data at the fingertips of clinicians, helping them to make informed decisions in real-time.
Healthcare Excellence Canada indicates that effective communication about medications within hospitals is a critical component to the delivery of safe care. At the same time, a recent report from Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) found that the rate of potentially preventable harm to patients in hospitals has increased since the pandemic.
For these reasons, it’s important to recognize that interoperability, which facilitates a closed-loop medication system, might help reduce the potential for errors. This means, for example, that medication parameters flow from the prescriber’s orders in the EHR to the infusion pump.
Steve Schiefen, Vice President of Implementation Services at Fresenius Kabi says, “We know auto-programming through EHR integration can help minimize medication errors, that’s why the ability to communicate with other systems was central to the design of the Ivenix Infusion System.”
“Another way the system can help reduce errors is through an onscreen barcode, as opposed to barcode stickers – which can be misapplied, wear away or fall off, breaking the information flow of the closed-loop system,” he continues. “When our system was developed, every aspect of infusion delivery was re-evaluated and reimagined to reduce the complexities around infusion system use.”
Whether due to cost, lengthy procurement processes or the daunting task of implementation, it’s not uncommon for hospitals to use technologies that are past their prime. Unfortunately, this can mean hardware and software updates take longer, and are harder to implement.
“When this happens, clinicians may be required to find workarounds to apply care protocols or meet expected practices,” says Helen. “It’s important to identify new technologies that reduce the need for things like annual calibration or frequent maintenance, which can take the device out of service for extended periods of time.”
An advanced infusion management platform should facilitate enterprise-wide, centralized management of the entire pump fleet. A shift from hardwire to wireless software updates allows for the expeditious implementation of security and information updates.
“The ability to implement cybersecurity updates across an entire fleet, without wasting time hunting and gathering each unit, for example, not only keeps more devices on the floor for patients, but it also helps the hospital put up defenses quickly against malicious actors,” Edwards says.
While introducing new technologies is becoming more critical, it’s not an easy task. “The Ivenix Infusion System was built in a way that simplifies integration and accelerates pump adoption,” says Schiefen. But when introducing any new system, he explains that it’s important that organizations work closely with vendors throughout the implementation process. “They’ve been through it before and can offer solutions and guidance.”
As the Canadian healthcare system continues to face challenges, innovative technologies will be essential in heralding a new era for healthcare delivery. Fortunately, with opportunities to reduce medication errors and optimize care coordination, new technologies can empower the next generation of healthcare providers with easy-to-use solutions that allow for more time with patients.
This article was supplied by Fresenius Kabi Canada.