Caregivers in intensive care units (ICU) have many challenges in dealing with critically ill patients, why should they use anything less than the best in healthcare equipment and medical devices?
For mechanically ventilated patients, accurately gauging how much nutritional support they need can be fundamental to their recovery. In clinical settings, the current gold standard in measuring ‘Resting Energy Expenditure’ is indirect calorimetry, but this has been largely overlooked due to a lack of accessibility of the technology. As a result, indirect calorimetry, and its importance to patient recovery, has not been widely understood, with many healthcare professionals resorting to a guesstimate approach – not ideal for patients. The goal of our project was to bring this lifesaving science into common use, making the gold-standard the go-to measure of care, and ultimately delivering better outcomes for patients and healthcare professionals.
Working with COSMED and the University of Geneva, Design Partners set about transforming how this technology is used in critical care practice. First, a body of ethnographic and human factors engineering research was conducted, as well as shadowing healthcare professionals in the clinical environment. It became clear that the current calorimetry units are bulky, cumbersome, and difficult to transport. The workflow frequently involves shifting heavy units from one area of a hospital to another and moving ICU equipment to create space. All this takes valuable time and, unsurprisingly, this resulted in the old-fashioned guesstimate approach winning out. If a lighter, more portable, grab-and-go unit could be created, this would help to make the scientific approach more accessible, transforming its use and providing a great benefit to ICU patients.
Through an 18-month collaborative process with Geneva University, the team progressively gathered end-user input, with prototype models and engineered solutions. Combining COSMED’s technology engineering with our usability design and mechanical engineering, we collaborated to create a new calorimetry unit of a compact size and weight, with minimized controls and incorporating a touchscreen. Importantly, as well as being completely portable, the set-up time for the new unit is much quicker. Previous units were eating up precious time and involved a 15-20 minute set up. The new unit plugs in and starts immediately, providing a critical asset in an environment where every minute is vital.
Q-NRG is ground-breaking – the portability, ease & speed of use makes metabolic measurement more widely accessible and delivers a tool of paramount importance in ICU care delivery and patient recovery. The science of calorimetry will now be accessible in many new markets with Baxter International handling worldwide distribution. Q-NRG, having already more than doubled its sales forecast, is set to make a profound difference to patient care practice & recovery in many new markets, bringing the gold-standard to frontline healthcare workers.
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