Below, Ben Noonan, general manager for North America at Eitan Medical, sits down with 24×7 Magazine to shed light on COVID-19’s impact on the infusion therapy device market and share what’s trending from an equipment design perspective.
24×7 Magazine: COVID-19 has, without a doubt, changed the healthcare sector in numerous ways. How has the pandemic impacted the infusion therapy sector, in particular?
Ben Noonan: Like many areas of healthcare, the infusion therapy sector has faced numerous challenges directly related to the pandemic over the past two-plus years. Two of the biggest challenges right now are supply chain disruptions and a lack of licensed RNs to support the infusions themselves.
Raw material shortages, shipping container shortages, health-related employee disruptions in manufacturing facilities, and a host of other issues continue to pose a challenge for many manufacturers as they endeavor to produce the correct amount of product and provide that product on time to infusion therapy patients. The registered nurse shortage in the U.S. has been well documented over the last couple of years, and that remains a challenge to this day for many hospital and alternate site infusion providers.
24×7: We are rapidly approaching 2023. From an equipment perspective, what are some of the top innovations in infusion therapy?
Noonan: Innovation in the infusion pump space has been evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, over the last several years. Infusion pumps in the alternate site space continue to grow smaller and lighter, and designing pumps that can infuse for a longer period without needing to recharge batteries has become an important specification of any infusion pump used outside of the hospital.
Some of the biggest innovations moving into the future will be around connected IV pumps—pumps that can be tracked, monitored remotely, and allow for the extraction of therapy data via a mobile or web app—as this technology will become a basic requirement for all infusion pumps.
24×7: Before investing in infusion pumps, should healthcare professionals know?
Noonan: It’s extremely important when selecting an infusion pump to understand what support will be provided once the purchase of the pump is made. Educational support, technical support, service support, etc., are all vital to integrate an infusion pump into a healthcare system. The more support that is placed on the front end of the adoption of an infusion pump, the higher likelihood of the device integrating into the system successfully.
A key watchout that has played out again and again over the past three to four years is utilizing only one infusion pump platform for all of a healthcare organization’s needs. Having an infusion pump fleet that has diversification in its manufacturers is a strategic hedge against supply shortages and potential other uncontrollable events.
24×7: How should HTM professionals approach infusion pumps from a cybersecurity perspective?
Noonan: Cybersecurity needs to be at the forefront of an entire organization’s thinking when they make the decision to design and develop an infusion pump. In the very beginning of the process, securing patient data needs to be embedded into all facets and milestones of the project. Once an initial version of an infusion pump is launched, every new software version of that pump must maintain previous functionality and security, as well as adapt to an ever-changing landscape to ensure the pump conforms with the latest in cybersecurity.
24×7: What else should 24×7 Magazine readers to know about the infusion therapy device sector?
Noonan: The infusion therapy device field should have an exciting several years ahead. Numerous medical device organizations are planning to launch infusion pumps both domestically and abroad in the near term per regulatory approval, and these devices will bring a new set of features and system improvements from past generations of IV pumps.
With natural design evolution, along with some revolutionary developments and applications, the future of the infusion therapy device sector looks the most optimistic it has in years.