Monday July 14, 2014 0 comments
By Steve Porter
FORT COLLINS - Most people don't want to stay in a hospital any longer than they absolutely have to.
And while that's primarily based on a person's desire simply to be well again and get back home, there are other factors that weigh in favor of getting out of that hospital bed as soon as possible.
Faster recovery is one factor, with patients who are able to get up and walk again after a treatment or surgery leaving the hospital sooner than those who remain bedridden.
And there's the reduced cost of a shorter hospital stay, which is actually good for both the patient and hospitals that receive a higher reimbursement from insurers for shorter stays.
Livengood, a Fort Collins company that's developed a simple yet revolutionary bedside product, is helping get patients up and around sooner and cutting hospital stay expenses.
Livengood's PACE (PAtient Care Environment) is an evolution of the IV pole ambulatory patients push to get exercise and go to the bathroom while still attached to feeding tubes, pumps and other hospital care paraphernalia.
Patients love it
And patients are loving the PACE.
"The first time out of bed I had an IV pole and I had to pull it behind me while leaning my other arm over my wife," said 82-year-old Roy Arterburn during a hospital stay at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins.
"I almost fell over an uneven spot in the flooring when the IV pole tipped. The next day I received the PACE and (physical therapy) hooked up my IV and oxygen. I was able to do three laps around the unit without any help.
"I don't know why every hospital doesn't have these."
That's exactly what Livengood is hoping for.
The company was founded seven years ago by Dr. Joe Livengood, a Fort Collins surgeon who also happened to be an engineer. Livengood saw that, with several modifications, the old IV pole could be transformed into an indispensable piece of hospital equipment.
"The trend was to keep (patients) comfortable and in bed," said Tanya Kensley, a licensed physical therapist and Livengood's clinical specialist.
"But it's been shown that getting patients up and around within 48 hours is really the best practice."
Kensley, who spent years in hospitals and cared for patients using the old IV poles, said she "saw patients trip and fall a lot with the IV poles."
The PACE is a sturdy platform that can haul up to 164 pounds of equipment attached to it while the patient is steadied by the platform's five wheels.
And even the weakest post-surgery patient can take it for a spin, often without an assist from a nurse.
"It takes less than six pounds of force to push it," Kensley said. "This is a super step above what we've done in the past."
Ryan Osborn, Livengood's business development specialist, said the PACE is helping meet new health care guidelines under the 2010 Affordable Health Care Act - sometimes called Obamacare - that reward hospitals for shorter patient stays.
"A few years ago, (PACE) was a cool idea but now it's a proven entity that's really relevant to hospitals right now," he said. "All these trends in health care have finally converged."
PACE's ability to help patients heal and go home sooner was recently proven in a 2013 study conducted at Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland. The study compared patients without the device over a six-week period to patients who had the device.
The study found a 6.2-hour reduction in the length of hospital stay and an average cost savings of $625 for each patient who had a PACE.
The study also showed fewer hospital staff members were needed to help PACE patients get around.
Standard of care
"We now have the proof that (hospitals) can get patients out of the hospital 25 percent earlier, which is a huge savings for the hospital," Kensley said.
Now used at PVH and MCR, Osborn said Livengood is in discussions with other hospitals in Colorado, the U.S. and internationally to buy the PACE platforms.
"We've found the two places where this is the best fit is the ICU and on post-surgical (units)," he said.
"What was really the turning point for us was the study," said Kensley. "Now we have validation."
Kensley said Livengood sees a huge market opportunity for PACE, which is unique in hospital settings.
"There's nothing out there like it - that consolidates this level of equipment and is safe," she said.
Osborn said he would like to see a Livengood PACE at every hospital room bedside, allowing patients to get out of bed sooner and move more freely with less reliance on their caregivers.
"If we can prove that concept, we'll be the standard of care in the United States," he said.
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