Because patient satisfaction continues to drive Medicare scoring, interest grows in technologies that reduce or remove pain from the patient’s experience, particularly when a phlebotomist draws blood for clinical laboratory testing

Clinical laboratories know full well that patients do not like being stuck by needles. And hospital administrators know that increasing the hospital’s patient-satisfaction scores is important for Medicare hospital accreditation.

This is why hospital administrators are devoting more attention—and budget dollars—to products that have the potential to reduce the pain experienced by patients. And patient satisfaction surveys regularly identify pain during phlebotomy procedures as an issue.

Enter PIVO, a sterile single-use device created by San Francisco-based Velano Vascular Technologies that attaches to an existing peripheral intravenous (PIV) line to extract blood samples from patients through the use of a vacuum tube or syringe, relieving the pain of additional needle sticks.

Needle-free blood draws is not a new concept. But the fact that hospitals are adopting such technologies indicates that the need to improve the patient experience is motivating more hospitals to spend money on these types of devices.

Velano Vascular’s PIVO device (above) works by pushing a small, flexible flow tube through the IV line and directly into the vein to collect as much blood as needed for medical laboratory testing. After the blood collection has been completed, PIVO is retracted and removed from the IV and discarded. As public demand for pain free healthcare increases, will the practice of phlebotomy in all healthcare settings need to adopt as well? (Photo copyright: HIT Consultant.)

Nurses Approve of No-Stick Technology

The Centura Health system in Centennial, Colo., utilizes PIVO at all 17 of its hospitals throughout Colorado and western Kansas. Centura’s goal is to “eliminate some of the suffering that goes along with needlesticks for inpatients,” Rhonda Ward, MSN, Vice President Nursing Services and Chief Nursing Officer, South Denver Group, Centura Health, told Modern Healthcare.

“It adds no pain to the patient,” she said. “Unfortunately, nurses, just by nature of their work, have to create discomfort in some of the things that they have to do. So not creating more pain for the patient has been a big satisfier.”

Velano Vascular first gained FDA marketing clearance for its proprietary intravenous blood-draw device in 2015. Later that same year, Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City became the first healthcare system in the country to implement the PIVO device. Intermountain now uses PIVO in all 22 of its hospitals.

“Blood draws are critical, common elements in modern medicine, but they cause an unnecessary amount of anxiety, pain and risk due to the use of century-old technology and practice,” said Kim Henrichsen, MSN, Senior Vice President, Clinical Operations/Chief Nursing Executive, Intermountain Healthcare, in a press release. “We are thrilled to offer a new standard of care that, over time, will help obviate the need for needles used for hospital blood collection. This commitment to standardizing draws will enhance quality for both patients and practitioners.” 

According to the Velano website, there are 400 million inpatient blood draws in the US each year, with each patient receiving 10 to 20 needlesticks per hospital stay. The site also states there are more than 1,000 practitioner needlestick injuries per day in the US and that approximately one in five people in the country are needle phobic. The company claims the advantages of the PIVO device include reducing patient pain and anxiety, making blood draws easier for Difficult Venous Access (DVA) patients, and making the blood extraction process safer for practitioners.  

“It is baffling that in an era of smartphones and space travel, clinicians draw blood by penetrating a vein with a needle—oftentimes in the early morning hours,” said Todd Dunn, Director of Innovation at Intermountain Healthcare Transformation Lab in the Intermountain press release. “Through our Design for People program, we resolved to find a better way for our phlebotomists and nurses to more humanely and consistently draw blood. Following 15,000 PIVO draws on adults and children with no adverse events and overwhelmingly positive feedback from patients and caregivers alike, it is clear that we are together establishing a new standard of care.”

According to a survey commission by Velano Vascular and conducted by Charter Oak Research of more than 6,500 nurses from 24 hospitals regarding the blood collection process:

  • Eight out of ten nurses are concerned about needle safety.
  • One in three patients are considered tough sticks.
  • 88% of the nurses felt that blood collection sticks and re-sticks negatively impact the patient experience.
  • 76% of the nurses would prefer to use needle-free blood draws over venipuncture.
  • 84% of the nurses said they would advocate for a needle-free blood draw device.

One of the key findings in the survey found that there is a lack of standardization in blood collection, and that there is “significant variability in who and how blood is collected across patient floors and time of day.”

“Commercial demand for PIVO and our family of novel solutions is being driven by a move to one-stick hospitalization and a growing realization that removing needles from blood draws improves the patient experience, protects practitioners, and boosts the bottom line,” Eric Stone, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder, Velano Vascular, told FierceBiotech.

More Research versus Patient Outcomes

Though there are peer-reviewed studies and white papers outlining positive patient outcomes surrounding the use of the PIVO device, some professionals feel more research on the product is needed.

“All of these studies would suggest that additional study would be warranted,” Diane Robertson, Director Health Technology Assessment and ECRIgene Information Services at the ECRI Institute, told Modern Healthcare. “But while the evidence is inconclusive at this point on a number of the potential benefits, in studies and in our look at safety information, there’s been no indication that there’s been any harm from this technology. It’s reasonable for hospitals to consider it. It goes back to weighing the patient-oriented outcomes.”

The need to improve the patient experience and improve patient satisfaction scores is motivating hospital administrators to spend money and resources on products like the PIVO device. Clinical laboratory leaders should be aware of the rate of adoption of such products by healthcare systems.

Continued growth in products that can collect medical laboratory specimens without a traditional venipuncture performed by a phlebotomist could give innovative labs a new way to add value in patient care in both inpatient and outpatient settings.

—JP Schlingman

Related Information:

Centura Health Cuts 30,000 Needles with New Blood-draw Program

What Do Nurses Think About Blood Collection?

A Novel Needle-Free Blood Draw Device for Sample Collection from Short Peripheral Catheters

Centura Health Joins Innovative Movement for One-Stick Hospitalization

Intermountain Healthcare First System in Nation to Remove the Needle from Blood Draws

Velano Taps $25M in New Funding for its Needle-free, Bedside Blood Draw System

University Hospitals Adopts Needle-Free Blood Draw Technology