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Market Analysis: Patient safety a factor in instrument transport

by John Wallace

Transporting surgical instruments in a safe manner is vital. These tools must remain sterile as they are moved from central sterile processing to the operating room. Trays and carts have long been used as containers for surgical instruments while they are being moved whether it be a short or long distance.

We reached out to experts in the industry to find out the latest about the techniques used to move surgical tools to the operating room and then back to central sterile processing. We also examined how new advancements and regulations will impact the instrument transport device market.

Ralph J. Basile, Vice President of Marketing for Healthmark Industries Company Inc., says the growth of healthcare facilities is one factor that is affecting this market.

“Innovations in surgical procedures and the devices used, as well as changes to the healthcare delivery system itself, continue to drive products and processes that will enhance patient and staff safety,” Basile said. “A transportation system’s number one feature should be safety.”

He said maintaining the cleaniness of the instruments as they are delivered to the operating room is very important. Basile also noted that used instruments often need to be cleaned as soon as possible and that is a factor all healthcare facilities consider when it comes to how they transport surgical tools. The size of the hospital, ambulatory surgery center or healthcare facility can also play an impact in how surgical devices are transported.

“As facilities have gotten larger – including with remote locations – transporting items to reprocessing has become a time issue because organic soils dry on the instruments and devices become very difficult to clean,” Basile said. “Using products in order to extend the drying time of soils is an emerging need. Products, like the Humipak, with its highly absorbent liner and sealable design, extend the time for transporting to reprocessing by creating a humid environment that prevents organics from drying.”

Basile says the growing number of ambulatory surgery centers in the United States will continue to play a role in the market. More and more procedures are being done at ASCs in the United States. The more procedures an ASC adds to its list of services will have an impact on the market and should spark growth.

“As the number of ASCs have grown and the complexity of the instruments they use increases, many ASCs are sending devices to a central reprocessing center – often at a regional healthcare facility. This presents some new challenges,” Basile explained. “The first is to safely and effectively transport the contaminated devices in such a way that they will not contaminate clean devices. These instruments also need to be transported in such a way as to minimize danger to staff handling and transporting them.”

Overall, Basile expects the market to grow over the next five to 10 years due to the consolidation of healthcare systems. He also expects the increased complexity and cost of medical devices will result in new specialized transport devices targeted to meet these challenges.

An aging population is a factor in the forecasted growth of many healthcare markets. As the number of older people continues to grow in the U.S., more surgeries can be expected and thus the market for instrument transport devices can be expected to grow.

Also, advances in developing countries should play a role in the growth of this market as more surgeries are performed around the world.

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