Improving safety for those with medical implants

Over the years, implantable devices have become important tools to treat people with chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes and epilepsy. In fact, millions of people across the country live with some type of medical device in their bodies. While these implants are used on a regular basis, there are some issues for concern.

Implants with electrical components can potentially harm the patient and the device when used with electrocautery during surgery. Many times, surgeries are routinely canceled or delayed if an unknown implant is discovered. That’s because every medical device comes with its own set of instructions for use. And clinicians need that knowledge to protect both the implant and the person undergoing a procedure.

In 2015, two advanced practice nurses came up with an idea to help surgical teams quickly pull implant information during surgery. Since then, they have worked with OSF Innovation to refine their concept into a new digital platform.

From paper list to web-based app

Mary Marvin and Jill Teubel work in the Surgery Department for OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center. To come up with a solution, they contacted every company with implantable medical devices and pulled 50 to 100 pages of instructions for more than 60 implants.

With that information, they developed a word document that includes surgery protocols for every device. It has contact information for company representatives. And it includes guidelines for how to prepare patients with certain implants for surgery–all in a table format.

“We had one place for information, but we had to continually update it every six months,” said Marvin. “As the medical device industry continues to boom, our document has grown from two to 38 pages of content.”

In 2019, Marvin and Teubel wanted to enhance the device table by making it more manageable and scalable. As a result, they submitted and pitched their idea to the Office of Innovation Management, a part of OSF Innovation.

“We discovered that Jill and Mary’s concept was popular among surgical clinicians at nursing conferences across the nation. We also found that there really isn’t anything like this on the market,” said Nathan Pritzker, a strategic program manager in Performance Improvement. “That gives it great potential for commercialization.”

Over 18 months, Jill and Mary worked with OSF Innovation to test several designs. They chose a web-based application with a more robust and editable database. It can also be easily spread across OSF as well as to other hospital systems.

“You pull up the app, you sign in and then you make two clicks,” said Teubel. “One for the device you want and second for its affiliated company. Then all of the information is right at your fingertips. You no longer have to scroll through 38 pages to find what you need.”

Still more work to do

The web-based device table matrix is in use at OSF Saint Francis. It will be rolled out to other hospitals within the organization in the coming months. At the same time, feedback will be gathered to plan for future versions of the product.

“We are blown away at how the Innovation team helped us transition our device matrix into a web app format,” said Marvin. “Jill and I are passionate about patient safety. So, it will be a huge win for us if our device table is sold to other hospitals, and used to safely perform procedures on patients with certain implantable devices. At the same time, we are helping to keep hospital resources viable.”

Both Marvin and Teubel encourage other Mission Partners (employees) to follow in their footsteps.

“Our front line clinicians have so many good ideas out there,” said Teubel. “We are a testimonial that with the right coaching and resources, you can turn your idea into a viable product, benefitting not just our patients but those around the country.”

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