The American Heart Association on Thursday officially rolled out its new spin off with Norwegian medical equipment maker Laerdal Medical. The joint venture, called RQI Partners, will now set its sites on signing more contracts with hospitals across the U.S. for its re-thought version of CPR training, where trainees go through more frequent but shorter-in-duration training periods.
RQI (resuscitation quality improvement) functions as hands-on CPR training within the hospital. Hospital staff practice CPR on mannequins equipped with sensors and attached to computers, which allow individualized feedback. Whereas CPR certification typically requires about a day of training every two years, RQI requires 10 minutes every 90 days, amounting to what the organization calls “low-dose, high-frequency” training. The first iteration rolled out in 2015, and RQI 2020 is set to debut in early 2019.
Now that AHA and Laerdal have solidified their spinoff, AHA CEO Nancy Brown says she expects the number of hospitals—400—currently using RQI to qtuickly grow. “We have a dedicated staff team that works for the joint venture that will be out aggressively marketing and pursuing (business),” Brown said.
Under the RQI Partners model, hospitals pay for the equipment and the insights it produces on a subscription basis, meaning RQI still owns the CPR training machines, Laerdal CEO Tore Laerdal said. John Meiners, AHA’s chief of mission-aligned business, compared it to any other software-as-a-service (SAAS) business, and said pricing works as a yearly subscription on a per-trainee basis, with number of machines also a factor. Nobody would ballpark for me how much a hospital or hospital system might spend.
The connected training devices create data that can be helpful both for the hospitals themselves—to track how individuals and departments are doing—as well as for RQI, which can leverage the information as it piles up toward future revenue streams.
AHA formally announced the joint venture at an event Thursday at the W Dallas – Victory that featured a dose of flair. The setting was intimate, sleek, and dimly lit, with two big screens where a heavily produced video played about bringing the 475,000 yearly cardiac arrest deaths down to 0. There was plenty of emotional appeal weaved throughout the multi-speaker keynote.
About 200,000 of the 475,000 deaths occur in the hospital setting, which are the ones RQI will specifically be targeting.
AHA and Laerdal Medical—which makes educational and therapy equipment geared toward lifesaving and emergency medical care—have a relationship that stretches back to 2005. Laerdal has about 20 employees stationed at AHA’s headquarters in Dallas, Tore Laerdal said. Overall, the company employs about 1,500 people, 300 of them in the U.S.
A couple of Dallas-Fort Worth healthcare systems were a part of the trial period for RQI 2020. Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas trained about 2,100 people on the machines. UT Southwestern Medical Center also participated.
Brown and Tore Laerdal said trials at those and other hospitals have proven that their service ultimately saves money for hospitals when compared to traditional training, where hospitals often end up paying for the trainer and trainees’ time as well as for replacement staff, they said.
“The big cost is really in the time for the instructors and time for the providers. It’s been one to two days every two years,” Tore Laerdal said. “Now, it can be spread out in very condensed chunks, where you can prove your efficiency in a few minutes.”