User centered design is at the core of what we do at IntelliGuard®. When I started working on our Linked Visibility Inventory SystemTM project for anesthesia providers, I spent many months in operating rooms observing workflows and trying to understand the unique challenges of that environment. One observation was that unlike any other environment in healthcare, the anesthesia provider writes the “prescription” then immediately administers the medication to the patient. In every other healthcare scenario, the prescription is written by the physician, checked by pharmacy and then generally administered by another caregiver. For anesthesia providers, the whole workflow is under their purview and they are fully accountable for every step from selecting the medication, to calculating the dose, administering the dose and then documenting what was given.
The Stressful Atmosphere of the OR and Shortcomings of Non-RFID Solutions
Providing anesthesia to patients is a tremendous responsibility. Every day anesthesia providers work without the safety net of other caregivers to provide checks and balances to ensure the patients in their care get the best possible outcomes. This critical member of the surgical team must remain focused and able to react quickly to mitigate risk. All of this is done in an environment that is often chaotic and stressful.
In addition, critical problems sometimes arise such as staff running out of medications. This happens because pharmacy staff have no visibility to what was used in the OR and are unable to properly replenish items. Most automated solutions attempting to solve this problem require so many steps from the caregiver that the tools become a distraction and are improperly used, leading to inaccurate data. And even in the best of circumstances they do not provide true real-time visibility, relying instead on manual input and actions.
In short, legacy systems have often failed because users have either refused to use them, or developed work-arounds. Looking at these fundamental problems plaguing both anesthesia and pharmacy it became obvious that RFID was the answer.
RFID Healthcare Technology: Bridging the Gap Between Pharmacy and the OR
RFID is the only way to truly track and automate OR medication and narcotics management without disrupting caregiver workflows, a truly disruptive technology that does not disrupt. With LVISTM, all we ask the anesthesia provider to do is open a drawer, and then close it. The RFID antenna scans after every drawer closure, counts the inventory and allows pharmacy to proactively manage the inventory.
Patients Come First
If a technology supports the premise that patients come first, it will be adopted. “We must be the inventors who combine clinical acumen and experience with advances in science and technology,” as Steven L. Shafer, M.D. said at ASA 2015, discussing Disruptive Technology in Anesthesia, “We must introduce the next generation of technology and automation into perioperative care, rendering it more reliable, reproducible and less error-prone. With the advances in perioperative technology, we must replace outmoded clinical skills with the skills required by the technology we create.”
I am proud to say we have accomplished that by bringing the power of RFID healthcare technology to the operating room with the IntelliGuard® Linked Visibility Inventory SystemTM. RFID is the right technology, at the right time and the right answer for our customers.