In April, Ventec Life Systems launched its new respiratory care device, VOCSN, which incorporates five product technologies into one device, including ventilation, oxygen therapy, cough assist, suction, and nebulization. RT spoke with Doug DeVries, founder and CEO of Ventec Life Systems, about the new product, the launch, and the ventilation technology market as a whole.
RT: How is today’s ventilation technology responding to challenges like alarm fatigue, VAP, asynchrony, and more, while improving patient safety and quality of care?
Doug DeVries: VOCSN is designed with patients and caregivers in mind and seeks to reduce some of the age-old problems in respiratory care. Reducing five devices into a single device relieves the stress on caregivers of learning multiple operating systems, managing multiple circuits, and responding to multiple alarms. This integration allows caregivers to spend less time managing five different devices and responding to alarms on multiple machines and more time focusing on patients.
VOCSN was designed to reduce the risk for circuit misconnects and infection due to frequent breaks in the circuit. Caregivers can seamlessly switch between therapies with the touch of a button and no longer need to change the patient circuit between therapies. For example, to administer a cough therapy, clinicians can simply press a button on VOCSN and use the Ventec One-Circuit rather than switching between multiple devices and circuits. VOCSN makes cough therapy available to patients who may have previously avoided cough due to the time, effort, and anxiety of disconnecting from their ventilator.
RT: Tell us about your company’s new ventilator and about the advantages it offers for clinicians. What advantages does an integrated device have over stand-alone ventilators?
DeVries: VOCSN is more than just a ventilator, it’s a truly unified respiratory system that integrates five separate medical devices, including a critical care ventilator, 6 LPM equivalent oxygen concentrator, Touch Button Cough assist, hospital grade suction, and high performance nebulizer. VOCSN is designed to be meet or exceed the performance of traditional, stand-alone machines. Moreover, VOCSN is fully customizable—patients can get all five therapies or just the mix of therapies needed.
Ventilator patients often need more than just a ventilator. Patients typically need multiple devices, power cords, patient circuits, and accessories which significantly impede mobility.
VOCSN is more than 70% lighter and smaller than existing machines, features a nine-hour on-board battery, and is controlled through an intuitive touchscreen interface and user-friendly operating system.
Integration not only reduces size and weight, it makes care easier. Switching between five devices to provide therapies is time consuming and uncomfortable. For example, a patient with a spinal cord injury using traditional technologies needing cough therapy must complete three steps. First, caregivers disconnect the patient from the life support ventilator. Second, the patient is connected to the cough assist device using a separate patient circuit. Third, once the therapy is complete, the patient must reconnect to the ventilator. Switching between devices may take up to 15 minutes, require as many as two caregivers to complete, and expose the patient’s airway to the risk of infection.
The VOCSN Touch Button Cough is activated with the touch of a button to make airway clearance easy. By unifying ventilation, cough, and suction into one system, it now takes seconds instead of minutes to administer cough therapy with Touch Button Cough. Patients remain connected to the ventilator at all times, and there is no need to disconnect circuits between uses. The system is designed to reduce the gaps in ventilation, decrease the risk of patient misconnection, and minimize exposure to the patient’s airway.
RT: Who are the primary patient populations your device is targeted toward? Are you targeting clinical settings and DME/home care providers evenly?
DeVries: VOCSN works across the continuum of care, from the hospital to home, and for pediatric patients weighing more than 5 kg to adults. VOCSN is designed to provide care for patients with neuromuscular disease (eg muscular dystrophies, ALS), impaired lung function (eg COPD, CF, lung cancer, emphysema), spinal cord injury, and pediatric development complication (eg premature births, chronic lung disease).
The everyday mobility of VOCSN allows patients and caregivers to have all five therapies accessible at all times – whether a parent needs suction for their child during a car ride or a respiratory therapist needs oxygen for a patient during a hospital elevator ride.
VOCSN was designed as a critical care ventilator with both pressure and volume control modes for complex patient needs in a hospital or long-term care facility. The compact size and extended battery power make it easier to transport patients. The internal 6 LPM equivalent oxygen concentrator and easy-to-use operating system simplifies patient management in the home.
RT: How/when is your device being rolled out? Is the product reimbursable through CMS and private insurers?
DeVries: Over the next year, we are working with select partners on a controlled rollout to maintain a close connection between patients, caregivers, and the team that created VOCSN.
We will work directly with each patient to monitor the VOCSN experience from the hospital to the home. Feedback from this period will help our team to continually redefine respiratory care.
All of 2017 production is fully committed to select domestic and international partners and we will begin shipping in June to the first VOCSN patients. VOCSN is FDA 510(k) cleared and we are working closely with CMS on reimbursement.
RT: What factors do you recommend hospitals consider when deciding to purchase or upgrade their ventilation equipment?
DeVries: Anything that saves time, reduces costs, and enables improved patient outcomes is indispensable in the hospital. The integration of VOCSN reduces time spent on training, maintenance, cleaning, monitoring, and providing care. Saving time reduces hospital costs and allows more time to focus on patients. Having access to all five devices within VOCSN provides peace of mind, reduces storage requirements, and limits time-consuming equipment searching and tracking.
RT: What changes and improvements are in store for ventilation technology in the future? What do you see with ventilation devices in the next few years?
DeVries: Global business and societal trends related to integration, remote technology, and customization are finally beginning to improve ventilation technology. These trends are impacting consumer and clinical demand and will make current ventilator technology obsolete. Improved respiratory technology will facilitate everyday mobility for patients, improve patient compliance and tracking, and give patients the opportunity to focus on their relationships with loved ones and live their life.
Patients need more than just a portable ventilator. The integration of five devices with VOCSN is the beginning of integration, but the opportunity exists to further integrate additional monitoring and therapy accessories. Integrating respiratory equipment and data with other nonmedical equipment and devices—such as smart wheelchairs—will produce comprehensive solutions that empower patients to take control of their care.
The proliferation of connected devices is expanding the possibilities for remote monitoring and telemedicine. VOCSN is equipped with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology not currently enabled. As remote monitoring technology matures and the regulatory environment evolves, VOCSN will support secure remote patient and device monitoring. Seamlessly connecting patients, caregivers, and devices will provide greater access to care and increased patient engagement.
Finally, the current one-size-fits-all device approach that requires clinicians and caregivers to “trick” machines to work for their patients will soon be supplanted by specialized systems that are customized for specific patient populations. Advances in manufacturing and software have opened up the capabilities for customization which will drive demand for patient-centric devices. RT
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