Technology Tackles the Pressure Ulcer

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media , May 7, 2013

With the MAP system, clinicians can customize the frequency of turning to match patient needs, which can vary. Some patients can go as long as 3 or 4 hours without being turned, Pompeo says.

The key is that the technology starts a process of measurement, so caregivers can begin to answer the questions of which kinds of patients need to be turned more frequently than others, he says.

That is a key point to me. Just because a technology gets installed, we shouldn't make unsupportable assumptions about the frequency of a given practice or procedure. Let the requirements of care always drive the practice of care, and don't assume that just because an alarm can be set to go off at a prescribed time, that it must be set to that interval for every patient.

Every technology also has its limitations. Although pressure exerted over a duration of time is the main contributor to these ulcers, Pompeo says another minor contributor is shear – forces going not directly into the tissue, but perpendicular to it – a kind of friction. Over time, sensors will probably evolve to measure all of the forces in play. But the 80/20 rule applies here, as many other places, and the MAP system is moving the conversation in the right direction.

Now for the disruption I mentioned. As you probably realize, all hospital beds are not created equal. In fact, over the past ten years, according to Pompeo, "there's been a race to the bottom as far as pricing and in some degrees, quality. Beds are probably about a third of the price they are now per rent per night compared to ten years ago."

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