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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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