Smart infusion pumps are stemming up as the technology trend, promising a smarter and safer future.

Improving patient outcomes, meeting stringent compliance mandates, and reducing costs have given a boost to the adoption of newer and smarter technologies in all facets of workflows, from implantable devices, to mobile diagnostic equipment, and even facility automation that makes hospitals smart. The healthcare industry is witnessing a gradual increase in the need for remote care and monitoring, and for devices that can move seamlessly from the hospital, to lower acuity settings, and into the home.

To keep pace with the rapidly evolving medical industry, manufacturers are looking forward to offer solutions that can be implemented more quickly, provide reliable connectivity, and deliver tight data security. While high demand for infusion pumps has led to a multibillion dollar market, safety issues have created a need to improve product performance and user experience. Existing and new companies are working on safety issues, which can be viewed as an opportunity to improve quality in a manner that investors predict will maintain steady growth for the near future.

With the introduction of smart, wearable technologies in the medical industry, the demand for smaller, easy to wear pumps has seen a tremendous peak. Several market leaders are working on small insulin pumps that provide instantaneous monitoring and medication, which could make manual syringe needles obsolete in the next few years.

With the rise in demands for correct dosage settings and right medication administration, traditional infusion pumps have paved the way forsmarter technologies. The smarter pumps, with improved mechanics, integrated softwares to streamline the workflow, while ensuring safety and efficiency of medication administration gained traction in the past few years. These smarter technologies enable wireless connectivity, ease of programming, drug libraries, barcode scanning, and the capability of generating alarm-evidence-based reports with error trending.

As technology becomes more affordable and connected, there is a shift from provider-centric to patient-centric model of care. Integration between smart pumps and EHR technology enables HIT integration, analytics, and surveillance that help drive standardization and accountability enterprise-wide. As infusion technologies generate essential data to help optimize workflow and contain costs, these smarter platforms capture, consolidate, and analyze this data while standardizing system management to drive continuous improvement. Current and future trends will continue to emphasize system integration via the hospital's wireless network.

Global Market Dynamics

The global infusion pumps market was valued at USD 8.12 billion in 2016 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 6.0 percent during the next 5 years to reach USD 10.84 billion by 2021, states MarketsandMarkets.

Increasing applicability of infusion pumps for medication administration has led to a significant boost in the demand for technically advanced products, making market players focus more toward research activities, approvals, and product launches. With the mergers and acquisitions in the industry and the introduction of smarter, integrated solutions in the market, the leading manufacturers are gaining a competitive edge over the others.

Technology Updates

Better Seals, Better Pumps. The most important advancements in the infusion pumps are around safety, which involve developing lower friction piston seals, higher wear strengths, and longer life mechanisms. Improvements in designs of seals in terms of material used, coatings, and the geometry of the seal have been the focus of the manufacturers over the years and have helped them come up with the seals with a longer life and lower friction rate. Current pumping technology is equipped with sensors that assess administration set pressure build up due to an occlusion or degrading IV access due to a clot or other blockage. A major concern of the manufacturers is to improve the piston seal used in insulin pumps. These pumps need seals that have a long life and are strong with a very low friction rate.

The lately introduced pumps incorporate pneumatic pumping mechanisms that can measure the flow of liquid and automatically adjust to ensure accuracy. These systems eliminate the need for ongoing calibration. The system allows for a fleet of pumps to be remotely monitored to manage asset utilization and maintenance across a healthcare system.

Integration to EHRs. Despite advanced technology such as computerized physician order entry (CPOE), barcode medication administration (BCMA), and smart infusion pumps, there is still the risk for manual programming errors in infusion pumps.

With an additional scan of the pump, EMR interoperability extends medication safety to the point of infusion administration by ensuring that the initial programming matches the physician's order. Furthermore, infusion data flows back to the patient's EMR to ensure that every member of the care team can access accurate and timely infusion administration information. Major vendors in the infusion pumps market have gained a significant position in the market with the introduction of newer integrated and wireless pumps.

Enterprise-level security and data-protection compliance. While all wireless technology faces cybersecurity risks, medical devices such as wireless infusion pumps carry a unique risk, as a hacker has the ability not only to access protected health information but also to make changes to drug doses and interfere with the pump's function. In order to leverage mainstream IT security solutions, the manufacturers are adopting leading-edge mechanisms for establishing secure communications, ensuring data integrity, and encrypting data.

The Road Ahead

With an alarming increase in people diagnosed with cancer, diabetes, chronic pain, and other health conditions and diseases, infusion pumps designed to administer drugs in precise dosages are seeing a major uptick. The drug delivery process is increasingly becoming automated, and patients are adopting infusion pumps at a rapid rate since they offer a less painful, more precise, safer, and more convenient means of drug delivery.

As other healthcare technologies advance, the industry is beginning to take notice, and meaningful innovations in infusion pumps are set to emerge. The trend toward home-based healthcare will hasten the pace of innovation, placing the spotlight on the need to manufacture smarter and smaller pumps.

Manual programming errors and overrides can result in adverse drug events (ADEs), negatively impacting patient safety and quality of care while increasing overall hospital costs. By eliminating manual pump programming, hospitals can reduce the opportunity for medication errors and related ADEs. Hospitals can leverage the existing BCMA system and smart pump technology to ensure the right medication is verified throughout the whole medication management process. Hospitals are on a path of interoperability with infusion pumps (due to the sheer volume and sensitive nature of their function) near the top of the list for connectivity.

For a market that has been dominated by major companies for a while, the demands for smarter technologies could signal an opportunity for players with new solutions that address the long-running safety issues. The rising awareness to reduce medical errors is certainly a catalyst that is pushing hospitals to look for better alternatives and like the other spheres of healthcare, connectivity to IT systems emerged as a boon. Infusion pumps that work seamlessly with EMR and order-entry systems are stemming up as the technology trend, promising a smarter and safer future.

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