Introducing new technology to a hospital or multisite healthcare system can be an uphill battle. Among the leading challenges associated with implementing new devices or equipment is that they might fail to be embraced by the targeted staff or used to their full potential.
As technology grows increasingly complex, it is even more critical to ensure that all team members are educated and comfortable with the new product.
In response, a growing number of manufacturers are offering tools, training, and other assistance to help smooth the way when new technology is brought on board. An excellent example of this is SCOUTCare, a program designed to help integrate the SCOUT Radar Localization system by Merit Medical into hospitals and healthcare systems.
The system uses implantation of a tiny reflector to mark breast lesions or lymph nodes prior to surgery, doing this without the challenges typically associated with wire localization. With wire localization, the wire is placed during a separate procedure on the day of surgery, which lengthens an already long and stressful day for the patient and her family.
Using SCOUT, surgeons can precisely target the affected tissue to pinpoint its location within 1 mm, which can translate to optimized breast conservation strategies and enhanced outcomes for women. SCOUT also has been shown to improve radiology workflow and reduce operating room delays.
SCOUT replaced wire localization at UCHealth, a 12-hospital healthcare network serving Colorado's metro Denver area and northern and southern Colorado. Amanda Wood, MBA, RT, CRA, was the administrator responsible for bringing SCOUT to the attention of UCHealth's New Technology Assessment Committee. She's the Northern Colorado regional director of breast imaging, and in that role she leads UCHealth's breast imaging teams.
According to Wood, introducing a new product or technology to a hospital/health care facility can be time-consuming and difficult, but those challenges were minimized in the case of the SCOUT system.
"I was able to get the committee's approval in the first round of reviews. Then it was just a matter of getting approval for capital dollars," she said.
Once the final go-ahead was given, Wood said, Merit Medical provided a comprehensive training and support program via SCOUTCare.
"The SCOUTCare program helped us to implement the wire-free technology across the entire UCHealth system. This is quite a significant commitment, given that we have three operating room teams to train just in my region alone, plus all of the technologists, nurses, clerical teams, and surgery schedulers," she explained.
The SCOUTCare program aims for maximum departmental engagement, and it includes training for radiologists, surgeons, and allied healthcare professionals, as well as continuing education units (CEUs) for technologists and a soon-to-be-implemented CEU for nursing certification.
The overarching goal of the SCOUTCare program, according to Wood, was to ensure that every member of UCHealth's clinical and allied clinical team became expert in the use and knowledge of the SCOUT technology.
"I can say that this goal was definitely met," Wood said.
The most valuable aspect of the SCOUTCare implementation program from Wood's perspective is that the clinical support team was on-site throughout the process, and that they continue to remain on call.
"They were present whenever we needed them -- whether that meant being with the surgeons in the ORs, or being with my team when we were placing the SCOUT reflectors," she said.
According to Wood, the SCOUTCare program lends critical support and reassurance.
"They were there every step of the way providing assistance and positive energy through what could have been a stressful and daunting process," she said.
SCOUTCare did for UCHealth what SCOUT does for women facing breast surgery.
"Wire-free localization makes the process easier and less stressful for women, and SCOUTCare made implementation of SCOUT easier and less stressful for my team," she explained.
The importance of SCOUTCare training and support is made even more critical as the SCOUT model evolves. For instance, some institutions are now giving patients the opportunity to schedule the wire-free localization at the time of biopsy, rather than on a separate date between biopsy and surgery.
Likewise, Lymphoseek (technetium Tc 99m tilmanocept) is now being used in conjunction with SCOUT in some healthcare systems. Lymphoseek is an injectable agent used to identify lymph nodes. When Lymphoseek is used after SCOUT placement, it decouples all of the processes on the day of surgery, making things easier on the patient, the surgeon, and the radiology department. Like SCOUT, this Lymphoseek option furthers the ultimate goal of making breast cancer surgery easier for women.
Wood maintains that SCOUTCare provides unprecedented support.
"There are times when an institution adopts new technology and the manufacturer provides some limited resources for a short time, and then they're on their way. That was not the case with the SCOUT team," Wood said. "They've been by our side consistently to help us make sure that we adopted this new technology to the best of our ability."
This case and other information are for the practitioner's convenience and general information purposes only. This information does not constitute medical or legal advice, nor is it meant to endorse or guarantee the suitability of any of the referenced products or methods for any specific patient or procedure. Before using any product, refer to the instructions for use (IFU) for indications, contraindications, warnings, precautions, and directions for use.