Patient safety drip rate app a worldwide success


An iPhone app designed by two Swansea experts to improve patient safety has become a global success story. Paul Lee and Mark Davies created pocket software that helps nursing staff calculate and monitor intravenous (IV) drips, one of the most common healthcare procedures.

Since launching in 2010 the ivDripRate app, which can also be used on iPods and iPads, has had more than 20,000 downloads in 25 countries. But Paul and Mark are not resting on their laurels, and are now working on an Android version that should see it become even more popular. Paul, ABM’s Medical Devices Training Manager, said “We didn’t expect this level of interest at all. We don’t advertise it and we have never run a campaign. It has all been entirely through word of mouth. We have had excellent feedback and five-star reviews. Some of the nursing teaching universities in Australia now use it as a training tool. It’s a novel and innovative project that has taken off really well.”

Every year millions of gravity drip infusions are used to administer vital fluids or medications to patients – in ABM hospitals alone the annual figure is around 250,000. But each time nurses have to carry out a mathematical calculation to set the correct individual drip rate – and monitor it throughout the process as the rate can change.

Paul realised the potential for human error and came up with a pocket card that ABM nurses could use to calculate the maths. Then he took the idea a step further, designing the app with the help of Swansea University computer science graduate Mark Davies, who now works at the University of Nottingham. Not only does the app (which costs less than £1 to buy) work out the calculations, it provides an on-screen virtual drip that nurses can hold up to the real thing to ensure they have correctly set the rate.

Paul and Mark are now working on a clinical trial to test the app’s effectiveness as opposed to relying on human calculations alone. Paul said “The trial will be done using a proper gravity drip set-up but in a non-clinical setting. It won’t just check the calculations at the start but also monitor the rate throughout, as it can change. It’s vital this is done accurately. If you are prescribed one litre over eight hours that is what you should get, because each prescription is matched to each patient’s needs.”

Paul’s work on the project will feature at the third biannual World Congress for Vascular Access (WoCoVA) being held in Berlin in June. But, not wanting to stand still, he and Mark are also taking ivDripApp a step further to increase its availability. Paul said “It was only designed for Apple devices but we are now developing it for Android devices as well – 80 per cent of the market in some countries is Android. We are expecting a lot more downloads once that happens. We have had a lot of interest from people who want the app on their Android phones. We are also going for CE Marking. It will then be a fully functioning medical product as opposed to a bit of software.”

Other intravenous and vascular access resources that may be of interest (External links – IVTEAM has no responsibility for content).

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