For clinicians, the use of new devices can represent significant solutions for their patients. However, if there’s a lack of education on the provider benefit or subpar training, a new vendor/provider relationship may fall flat before the device is able to see consistent use. Many times, one of the first interactions with a device company’s clinical team is during a product evaluation. Consequently, medical device manufacturers should develop an exceptional and methodically mapped out implementation program.
Although these programs should aim to establish adaptable processes, they must adhere to strategic best practice guidelines involving baseline data capture and analysis, protocol modifications, and training materials. Any medical device manufacturer would agree that bringing a new technology to a hospital is a challenge. However, when processes are in place to educate users on benefits and proper use, acceptance is accelerated, and clinical champions are prepared to foster consistent use well after the initial rollout.
Data Supports Business Case for Investment
For a new device, the expectations are always high. Not only must it be intuitive, but it must offer greater functionality over its predecessor – whether that be a competitive device or manual clinical assessment. All of this is compounded for first-to-market innovations. For medical professionals to adopt new technology, it should possess unique qualities that current offerings don’t deliver.
As the device or technology experts, company representatives should help clinicians gather all relevant information on the benefits to the patient, clinician/physician, and organization. Perhaps most important is how the product fulfills an unmet need. This includes but is not limited to building a baseline of the current frequency and severity of the problem the device solves. The current healthcare atmosphere emphasizes both efficiency and quality, so being able to use data to support the need will help clinical champions get buy-in. As more institutions are improving Electronic Health Records (EHR) processes, this is an ideal vehicle to streamline the gathering of necessary data points. At ivWatch, we are helping both institutions and industry partners with interoperability solutions, which are essential for customers and often requirements during the decision-making process.
Before leaping to a purchase or an installation, many organizations first require a product evaluation. Prior to the start date, device companies and institutions must collaboratively establish and agree upon their evaluation expectations and upon a clear definition of a successful trial. This includes data collection, education, evaluation objectives, and personnel support.
To set up the parameters of the evaluation, company representatives should first work with the project lead to determine the number of departments to include based on the size and average daily census and the number of potential candidates to use the device. Staple considerations for determining the size of an evaluation are the presence and ability of an evaluation team leader from the institution and a clinical education representative from the device manufacturer to ensure correct use. To properly staff an evaluation and collect enough data to assess the device or technology, the team will typically need about three to five days, but that timeframe can vary by device classification.
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Training and Policy Development
After the trial and receipt of the required support for installation or implementation, company representatives can help build a training team with knowledge in the relevant specialty and instruction skills. Creating a training team isn’t a one-size-fits-all endeavor; we suggest that our customers bring in other disciplines as they relate to the device benefit. As an example, those in the vascular access space have a complete understanding of access techniques, best practices, and complications, but that level of knowledge may not apply to clinicians across the hospital. Educators are crucial for filling the gap.
Also, medical device manufacturers can help develop training content and provide guidance for implementing new procedures. This could be as simple as providing a checklist on ways the device will fit into current policies, including providing examples of policy and procedure language. Discuss important workflow considerations like user competencies, patient criteria, device storage, troubleshooting, and cleaning instructions. It’s the responsibility of the device team to recommend the most optimal conditions and guidelines during implementation to ensure proper use.
Education Leads to Accelerated Acceptance
Even the most promising technologies are not immune to traditional industry characteristics, like clinicians with an aversion to change and high professional turnover. Succeeding in this environment requires buy-in from hospital leadership and consistent training, assessment, and support.
Training is a financial investment, and although it’s an essential one, its importance isn’t always conveyed. Mandated training is possible and can happen in various ways; we’ve seen education and device training included in house-wide onboarding and rolling education or as part of a dedicated skills day. Aligned institution and device manufacturer collaboration is essential to bring in new innovations to support the ultimate goal of bettering outcomes and care.