Health Device Manufacturers Flock To Irving To Pitch Products To Hospitals

More than 100 healthcare product companies from across the country traveled to Las Colinas Wednesday to show their products to a slew of hospital representatives as part of Novation’s annual tech conference.

The Irving-based healthcare intermediary acts as a middleman between suppliers and hospitals. In 2013, hospitals purchased more than $49 billion in products and services through Novation contracts. Wednesday’s Innovative Technology Expo at the Irving Convention Center was the third the company has hosted. About 120 suppliers got face-time with the hospital representatives who could potentially contract to buy their products.

“This is the largest event of its kind in our industry,” said Novation spokesman Michael Berman, adding that this year’s event grew by 30 percent, both in products and suppliers. “The overall goal is to enable hospitals to evaluate products that improve patient care and safety.”

There was a wide range of medical devices, from an ultraviolet disinfection device that’s helped disinfect Liberian clinics treating Ebola patients to a small, pain relieving device that needle-phobic diabetics use when they need to prick their finger to test their blood glucose levels.

The hospital representatives used Novation-supplied iPads to offer feedback on each product. Get enough positive feedback and Novation can help negotiate contracts between the suppliers and the members, which included Parkland Health and Hospital System and Children’s Medical Center of Dallas.

Below are a few of the products available at the conference.

TRU-D 

Memphis-based TRU-D SmartUVC was showing off its TRU-D (Total Room Ultraviolet Disinfection) device, which uses ultraviolet light to clean hospital rooms.

Chuck Dunn, CEO and president of TRU-D SmartUVC, said studies have shown that even the best housekeepers can miss about 50 percent of environmental surfaces.

The company maintains that TRU-D reduces pathogens on high-touch surfaces and in the air by more than 99 percent, adding that it’s cleaner and more environmentally friendly than traditional cleaning chemicals.

The tall cylindrical device is wheeled from one room to the next and can clean a room, even shadowed areas, in three to five minutes. TRU-D’s sensor even measures the correct UV dose to deliver for every room.

With the potential for hospital-acquired infections always present, TRU-D is helping to combat that. In fact, two TRU-D machines, which cost about $100,000 each, have recently been sent to Liberia to help prevent the further spread of the Ebola virus.

Ultrasound System and Finger Probe from Fukuda Denshi 

Another product on display at the expo was a new ultrasound system and probe from Redmond, Washington device firm Fukuda Denshi. The machine is more portable than other ultrasound machines and fits on a small rolling cart.

Julie Davis, director of ultrasound sales development at Fukuda Denshi, was excited about the new finger probe available with the system.

“It’s new. It just came out in January,” she said.

Since it’s small, lightweight and fits over the tip of the index finger, she says it’s easier to tell how much pressure is being applied to the patient’s skin than it is with a normal probe, which is bigger, heavier, and handheld. This is important, she said, because it’s easy to apply too much pressure with the normal probe and collapse veins, making them hard to find on the monitor. The finger probe minimizes that problem.

Davis said with the normal probe it’s also sometimes easy to lose a particular location and have a hard time finding the way back to it. The finger probe makes it simpler to return to a location because of muscle memory. She also said since the new probe requires placing your palm on the patient, some find that more comforting.

The new probe also allows easier access to neonates still in incubators. Since it is smaller, it prevents the babies from having to be moved for an ultrasound to be performed and reduces the risk the probe will be dropped in the incubator.

The system as a whole costs between $35,000 and $36,000.

Buzzy

Buzzy, from Atlanta’s MMJ Labs LLC, is a personal pain solution ideal for needle-phobic people or others, like diabetic patients, who have to frequently prick their fingers.

Buzzy is a small pulsating device with a icepack. Buzzy technology is based on gate theory, which, put simply, says that non-painful input closes the gates to painful input.

“You put it between the brain and the pain,” said Ronda Grimsley, spokeswoman for Buzzy.

For example, if your finger is being pricked, you can hold Buzzy in your hand.

Buzzy has been shown to decrease needle pain by 50 to 80 percent. Buzzy comes as a bumblebee, ladybug or in plain black. It costs $39.99 and is available to the general public. More than 30,000 have been sold.

CardioMEMS HF System

The CardioMEMS Heart Failure System from St. Jude Medical was also on display. The sensor, which is about the size of a paper clip, is permanently implanted in the distal pulmonary artery.

The patient can lie on the pillow, which contains an antenna, and take pulmonary artery pressure readings. These are reviewed by medical professionals via the system’s electronics unit.

The system purports to reduce heart failure hospital admissions by 37 percent.

During the clinical trial, the sensor was 100 percent free from failure. “We’ve never had a need to pull one out,” Missy Jensen, a company spokeswoman, said. She also said a Class III heart failure patient who’s had a previous hospital admission could be a candidate for the device.

Typically, heart failure management has relied on symptoms that often manifest after organ failure has begun. The CardioMEMS system helps catch heart problems before these symptoms begin, which can save lives and reduce the economic burden that goes along with heart failure.

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