By Mike Fratantoro

Image of ventilated patient.

Airway management technology covers a broad field of respiratory care and is an essential treatment tool for managing acute and chronic respiratory illnesses and disorders. In this issue, RT Magazine spoke with Nuno Azeredo, associate marketing director at Kimberly-Clark Health Care, who discussed the current technology and developments in the airway management market.

RT: What are some current technological trends in airway management products that are key to meeting the needs of RTs?

In general, the technological trends in airway management focus on preventing and minimizing the time patients are invasively ventilated. The key driver behind these trends is the well-documented complications associated with invasive ventilation, such as increased incidences of respiratory infection, trauma, and increase in overall hospital stay.

Specifically, there is an increase in focus on improving the methods of noninvasive ventilation to prevent the need of patients being tracheal intubated. Clinicians continue to be challenged by patients’ compliance with current technologies and therefore not receiving all the benefits from this therapy.

Once patients are ventilated, the RTs strive to get them off ventilation as quickly as possible, hence they are looking for solutions that help them diagnose and monitor patients’ conditions while on the ventilator. With better information, they can react quickly and specifically to the patient’s condition with the objective of getting them healthy enough to not need assisted ventilation.

RT: Tell us about your company’s most recent products for use in airway management and why they are innovative?

Kimberly-Clark has focused on helping prevent the complications of patients when on the ventilator, by helping keep the system “clean and closed.” With the launch of our new closed suction system, the KimVent* Multi Access Port Closed Suction Catheter, clinicians now have access to the artificial airway while preventing the patient’s exposure to external pathogens that can cause infections. The primary function of the product is to suction secretions within the upper airway, but this new catheter also allows access to perform deep lung sampling and bronchoscopies.

The continual focus on diagnoses of the sources of infection forces RTs to continue to rely on the less than accurate sampling techniques. The majority of these samples are being taken as endotracheal aspirates and sputum samples. These methods are used mostly because of resource limitations with doctors and bronchoscopes that are necessary to collect a deep lung sample. Kimberly-Clark bolstered the diagnostic line with additional launch of products within our KimVent BAL Cath product line. BAL Cath allows RTs to collect a deep lung sample up front to help get better results from a culture.

RT: How has airway management technology changed in the last few years? What forces do you believe are driving those changes?

Airway technology has really focused on the prevention of any invasive procedure performed as part of patient management. Any invasive procedure is seen as additional risk for infections and other complications. Another change is a focus on diagnostic technology to better identify the cause of the infection so the treatment can be specifically tailored, leading to better antibiotic stewardship.

These trends reinforce one larger trend that impacts all of health care, which is an increased pressure to decrease costs. This makes up a major part of the evaluation of new products, therefore it’s not only about the clinical benefit but also how does that clinical benefit translate to cost savings for the hospital.

RT: Health care costs continue to place a burden on hospitals, insurers, and patients. How is your company trying to address reducing health care costs in your products?

Kimberly-Clark is focused on developing products that not only improve patient outcomes but also have some tangible economic benefit. Within the product development process, one key objective is to determine the costs we are removing with the delivery of this product “solution,” be it reducing the need for auxiliary devices, ventilation time, ICU stay, etc.
Our aim is that with every launch we provide documentation that demonstrates how our product will help reduce the cost to the department or the overall hospital.

RT: What future airway management technology trends can RTs expect to see in the next few years?

Kimberly-Clark is committed to building on the trusted brands it currently provides to respiratory clinicians. Kimberly-Clark is excited to be extending its offering in the artificial airway by providing new endotracheal tubes that build on our MicroCuff* solution, driving additional capabilities of our closed suction catheters to clear the artificial airway of bacteria colonized secretions, and continuing to look at better ways of diagnosing infections in the airway. RT

 Mike Fratantoro is managing editor for RT. For further information, contact [email protected]