Southwestern Hospital Optimizes Wound Care Program with Switch to Medela NPWT Devices

A long-term acute care hospital facility based in the Southwest specializes in treating medically complex and critically ill patients requiring extended hospital stays. Among those patients are some recovering from serious wounds who have been prescribed Negative Pressure Wound Therapy (NPWT).

Finicky Devices Caused Frustration

At any one time, the facility can have as many as eight patients requiring NPWT. For years, the hospital contracted successfully with Medela Healthcare for its NPWT devices. However, a change in management a few years ago resulted in the hospital’s switch to an alternative company’s device.

Over the next year, it became obvious to staff that the new NPWT devices were unreliable and causing more problems than they solved. Nurses were frustrated, especially when patient outcomes were potentially being affected. Management decided to explore other options. They contacted Medela, having had success with their NPWT devices in the past.

Medela Demonstrates Ease of Use

A Medela Key Account Manager met with hospital management to discuss the best solution for their NPWT needs. “The Key Account Manager gave us an informative presentation,” said the Market CEO and an LPN with over 20 years of experience.

Cost Savings Made Switching a No-Brainer

It wasn’t just the clinical aspects of using Medela NPWT devices that had to be considered. Switching vendors needed to make financial sense too. While lowering costs wasn’t the hospital’s top priority, it was still part of the equation.

“It was a much better deal and a much better product, and all I had to do is see it work,” said the hospital’s Chief Clinical Officer (CCO). “We decided to make the switch to the Medela Invia® System. It just made sense. We’d be giving our patients the best wound care and saving money in the process.”

Training and Clarity Inspire Therapy Confidence

Switching to Medela’s negative pressure devices meant nurses would need some training. Management split the staff into four small groups and had each of the groups meet personally with the Key Account Manager and her team for in-services. 

“The training was as easy as possible,” said the CCO. “Medela’s device is a great product. It’s not heavy or bulky. It was made simple for bedside nurses to not feel intimidated.”

Better Than Expected – Zero Complaints

The hospital completed the switch to Medela’s devices. Based on their negative experience with the previous NPWT pumps from a different provider, management fully expected to hear about problems. Instead, they didn’t receive any concerns with the new pumps, whether related to equipment failure or operator error, as the nurses became accustomed to them.

“With the Medela pumps, the complaints stopped completely. I knew I would be hearing about it if there were problems. There just weren’t any.” - Market CEO

The Market CEO explained that with the previous NPWT devices, complaints from the nursing staff and patients had been a daily occurrence. Among them were that the devices were finicky, often requiring multiple attempts to get the seal right, which was frustrating for nurses and potentially painful for the patient. Even once in place, the device frequently shut down on its own, setting off an alarm and requiring a nurse to return to the patient’s bed and troubleshoot the issue.

The transition was seamless. “I was no longer getting multiple phone calls at night from nurses dealing with equipment problems. And when I’d come into work the next morning, I never found a patient with a wound vac that had turned off on its own overnight. We’re working with complex wounds. And so when you’re dealing with equipment that maybe isn’t working right, or isn’t user-friendly, it makes it more difficult to give the patient the care you want to provide. The difference with the Medela devices was noticeable immediately.”

High Marks for Patient Satisfaction

What elated management about the Medela devices wasn’t only that their staff liked them; it was clear that patients did too. In comparison to other negative pressure devices, the Medela system is small, lightweight and operates quietly. Because it functions reliably, it rarely sounds alarms, unlike their previous devices, which set off frequent alarms, annoying patients and waking them up at night.

Easy to Use for Nurses and Patients Alike

A nurse practitioner and certified wound care nurse who works at the hospital, as well as other healthcare facilities and nursing homes in the area, said, “I’ve used just about every wound vac out there. When I’m at a facility that has Medela devices, I’m glad. I know it will do the job. We have excellent results with the Medela pump.”

"We get less resistance to the therapy; patients are more compliant. We’re having better outcomes, which translates to better patient satisfaction and better employee satisfaction as well.” - Market CEO

One of the features he likes best is Medela’s visual icon that shows it’s working. “Other pumps don’t have displays, so nurses need to trust whether they can hear the pump working or see that the dressing has a firm seal.” He added that it’s even very easy to use a single Medela pump to treat multiple wounds on a patient at the same time.

“Medela is very user-friendly. The nurses are comfortable with it. They’re able to tell if there’s a leak. It’s easy to train staff how to troubleshoot the pump. If there isn’t a wound care nurse available, such as on the weekend, they’re able to monitor the pumps and correct any problems on their own.”

He explained that the Medela device is so easy to use, that patients quickly learn how to use it on their own. Often, they’re able to be discharged from the hospital sooner because they are comfortable working with the pump and can take it with them.

“Medela is also very responsive,” he added. “If we tell them we need an NPWT pump to send home with a patient, we get it along with all the supplies the same day. That’s not always the case with other wound care devices. Sometimes patients have to spend extra days in the hospital waiting for a pump to take home.”

More Pumps Whenever Needed

The hospital appreciates Medela’s responsiveness when it comes to getting more pumps. In the past, the previous devices they used were frequently out of service. Getting replacements could take days, which translated into additional time for the patient to heal. 

“It was hit or miss, and it was more miss,” said the Market CEO. He added the hospital wasn’t the only place where he’d experienced that problem. He’d previously worked at another healthcare facility with multiple locations. “It was like solving a sudoku puzzle each time we had to move functioning pumps around to the location where they were needed. It was such a cumbersome process that you almost hesitated to take on wound care patients because you knew it was going to be a hassle.”

Fast, Reliable Service

Any hospital that uses Medela NPWT devices has access to Medela’s 24/7 concierge service. That high level of service is found to be invaluable. 

"If we have any issues with the device, we call our rep at Medela who offers us immediate help. We never have to wait. And it’s been that way from the beginning. We love our rep and our relationship with her and Medela. To know you have that support, you can’t put a price tag on it.”

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