By Michelle Daniels
Vice President - Product Strategy, Development and Administration
Encompass Group, LLC
Trusted by clinicians for more than 25 years, our Thermoflect® Heat Reflective Technology® products have improved clinical outcomes and aided in protecting thousands of patients from unplanned hypothermia. Evidence-based practice of nearly 4,000 patients in 84 different product evaluation trials revealed some impressive statistics when compared with other warming protocols:
- 26 percent reduction in hypothermia
- 22 percent reduction in perioperative heat loss
- 30 to 75 percent cost savings
At Encompass, the next innovation always beckons to us. New challenges require new technologies. We started our search for a next-generation warming technology several years ago. As a result of our efforts, the NOVA™ patient warming solution is available for use today. It’s been exciting to develop a single product that can be used throughout the entire perioperative journey. Let's take a step back to see how it evolved
Excellent Technology Already Existed, Right in Your Car
When we began research and development on a new patient warming system, we initially tried to print a heater circuit - using conductive ink - on a lightweight film or coated nonwoven material. However, the cost was prohibitive. It was also susceptible to breaking when folded – not exactly what we needed for a medical product that needs to be stored compactly before use.
Thanks to the many years of experience a few members of the team have in the nonwoven fabrics industry, we came across a sample of this new innovative material from a British company using carbon fibers to make a nonwoven fabric. We realized pretty quickly that this fabric would act as a conductive heat source when applying low voltage to the fabric, we then pivoted to this fabric being at the heart of our development efforts. If you’re unfamiliar with carbon veil technology, it’s been making people comfortable for some time in their heated car seats. However, the uniformity and efficiency of the carbon veil we selected were off the charts, leading us to develop a low-voltage prototype and further enhance the technology. As a result, we became the first company to incorporate this technology into a disposable medical product.
Our carbon veil has some fantastic attributes:
- It’s manufactured similarly to paper, so it is consistent and readily available
- It can be cut or spilled on yet still retains its performance
- It uses less than five amps of electrical current for even, dependable heat
Although the carbon veil technology worked from day one, we needed to tackle and overcome other significant issues, such as connecting the veil to a power source and eliminating interconnects and heat traps. Overall, it took us more than three years to perfect the NOVA™ solution. However, our team knew what they wanted in the final system and worked diligently to make it a reality.
Checking All the Boxes to Improve Care Standards
NOVA™ was definitely worth the time and effort. We knew that operating room personnel were routinely citing noise, excess heat, and laminar airflow impacts in the OR as issues that contribute negatively to the current standard of care. Add to that, patient outcomes and mitigating associated risks with hypothermia and surgical site infections needed to be addressed.
NOVA™ works to provide positive outcomes for caregivers and patients. There is no air movement, reducing the infection risks associated with forced air. Plus, it has no moving parts, so it quietly warms patients. And without the excess emitted heat, it will keep providers cool and comfortable. The system can be used from start to finish, passively banking patient body heat to maintain normothermia throughout the perioperative journey. When necessary, the NOVA unit can be activated to deliver additional warmth by a simple-to-use controller.
Don’t Just Take Our Word for It
We’re excited by the feedback we’ve received from hospitals already using the NOVA™ blankets. One perioperative nurse calls it a “pre-op necessity!” She told us she loves that it’s not bulky, so she and the rest of the team can quickly and efficiently work and move around it. She also appreciates that it doesn’t emit heat and is completely silent.
An anesthesiologist says NOVA™ is perfect for the OR, “I can actually hear my patient’s heart and lung sounds while doing an assessment. With the forced-air unit, I have to turn it off in order to hear during my assessments.”
An Orthopedic surgeon commented that NOVA keeps patients warm without heating the entire OR and is excellent for use in robotic surgery, as the robots tend to be sensitive to movement of air with forced air-warming.
It’s gratifying that kudos have come from beyond healthcare professionals, too. We have anecdotal evidence that patients enjoy how warm the NOVA system keeps them pre-and post-op. A happy patient is a satisfied customer!
The Future of Patient Warming - and Its Implications
As far as the NOVA™ solution is concerned, the OR is not the only environment where it’s proving value to caregivers and patients. We envision possible applications in emergency care, critical care and potential military use to keep injured personnel normothermic during evacuation and transportation.
Now more than ever, quality of care will be the guidepost of the healthcare industry. Products like NOVA™ that can help mitigate Surgical Site Infections (SSIs) will contribute to improving that quality and patient satisfaction. And knowing that a single SSI may cost an institution $250,000 or more, these innovations also will have a significant impact on a hospital’s or health system’s bottom line.
So the next time you push that button to warm up your car seat on a cold winter morning, consider the patients, doctors, nurses, and healthcare facilities benefitting from that same technology. It turns out that being warm is actually pretty cool!
Michelle Daniels is Vice President - Product Strategy, Development and Administration for Encompass Group, LLC