Pushing the boundaries of infusion pump interoperability

June 13, 2019

Interoperability is not a new concept for infusion pumps. But in many cases hospitals have been slow to embrace the full potential of connectivity. When is this likely to change? What will hospitals need when it does? And where should infusion pump manufacturers focus innovation efforts in the meantime? These questions are difficult to answer but important to ask. In this article, Tim Frearson, Senior Consultant at Sagentia, considers the options.  

It’s more than 15 years since smart infusion pumps were first introduced. Wireless connectivity offered exciting new opportunities to improve the management of pump populations and integrate them with the wider healthcare system. Instead of operating in isolation, multiple pumps could be joined up with a single server, enabling software revisions to be uploaded  remotely. And monitoring several patients’ infusion status from a single station without having to visit the bedside was a  tantalising prospect.

These were just some of the promised benefits, and it was expected that they would quickly translate into better efficiency and treatment. Yet just because the technical capabilities exist, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are embraced. Unfortunately, parachuting new technology into healthcare environments rarely delivers tangible improvements unless the workflow around it also changes. So a modern infusion pump with a digital maintenance log might be returned to the technical team with a handwritten label that simply says “broken”. And, most of the time, nurses still dash to the bedside to differentiate between critical, non-critical and false alarms when infusion pumps need attention.