Simplifying oxygen tank monitoring

Every day we depend on instant notification in almost all aspects of our lives. Our cell phones deliver an alert when we get a message or when we have a meeting scheduled. The refrigerator in our kitchen beeps when we leave it open too long. Our cars even send a notification when we are low on windshield wiper fluid. Now you can be notified when a patient’s oxygen tank is getting low.

Medical facilities continue to put procedures and technology products in place to help improve management and monitor patient’s safety. But, the current way to determine when the contents of an oxygen cylinder is low is to check the pressure gauge manually. Constantly monitoring a patient’s oxygen cylinder is a time-consuming task that adds considerable labor costs and takes time away from other medical tasks that can impact patient care.

Research has shown that an overwhelming 84 percent of reported oxygen-related incidents have been due to empty oxygen cylinders and have resulted in negative patient outcomes. Adverse respiratory incidents such as those caused by empty oxygen cylinders are largely preventable and extremely costly. Inefficient oxygen management is not only costly to a patient’s health, it is also expensive for medical facilities and their insurance carriers. It takes only minutes before a patient’s life is at risk due to lack of proper oxygen levels.

Federal law requires medical facilities such as nursing homes, laboratories and hospitals to undergo an annual survey and certification process which covers many different aspects of patient health and safety. During the inspection process, if a patient is reported to have low or empty oxygen, there are several F-tags that could apply and result in costly fines.

Millions of people in the United States require supplemental oxygen, and the number continues to grow every year. The number of seniors is expected to double over the next 30 years with the 76 million baby boomers currently in the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that Americans with chronic health conditions such respiratory diseases, heart disease and diabetes account for 86 percent of healthcare spending. The CDC also states that chronic diseases are responsible for seven out of 10 deaths each year.

As the aging population continues to grow, so does the demand for smarter, faster and easier means to manage and provide quality healthcare. New technology is being introduced and designed every day to improve the delivery of information to improve healthcare services for the caregivers and patients. Research has shown that technology eliminates time and stress for the medical professional who can obtain information faster and without direct patient interaction. Global companies have recognized medical procedures that are in need of technological advancement and are developing solutions that will improve the quality of life for patients and their caregivers.

Some companies have developed vital sign monitors to notify as soon as a patient’s blood pressure drops. Others have solutions that deliver a constant insulin level reading for diabetics to an iPhone. Smart Caregiver recognized the need for immediate notification if a patient has exited their bed and or fallen. MIJA has developed an electronic technology product that provides immediate notification of low oxygen contents in an oxygen cylinder. These are examples of how technology products are changing today’s healthcare management system and improving the lives of the patients and those who care for them.

Immediate notification can mean the difference between life and death. Oxygen notification is one more spoke in the wheel of improved patient care.

Michaela McSheffrey is the COO of MIJA, a Rockland, Massachussetts-based manufacturer of pressure gauges, including the Critical Alert line. She can be reached at 781-871-5750.

Topics: Articles , Facility management , Medicare/Medicaid , Rehabilitation , Technology & IT