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An effective, efficient smart pump training tool that cost-effectively promotes proficiency


The wide-spread use of smart medication infusion pumps in clinical environments make point-of-care proficiency with these devices essential to patient safety. The Health Scholars’ Smart Pump application is an interactive, web- and tablet1-based tool designed to train and certify nurses to be smart pump proficient. The use cases below document that the application is effective, highly efficient and reduces costs to achieve this goal.

The Health Scholars’ Smart Pump application was designed with hospital education staff in mind. It seamlessly, and easily promotes the onboarding, training and continuous education of nurses. And data shows that it accomplishes this at a lower cost and in less time compared to traditional training methods.

The evidence content below is based on two use cases of the Health Scholars Smart Pump application. The first case details metrics obtained by the application’s use at OSF HealthCare (OSF,) a 13-hospital healthcare system serving the Midwest. The second case is based on a study published in the Clinical Simulation in Nursing journal. It documents the use of the application in a nursing simulation center in an academic setting. Both cases are relevant to hospital environments.

Smart Pump Training Challenges

A recent survey by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices revealed widespread use of smart pumps in hospital settings2. The ubiquitous presence of smart pumps has been, unfortunately, accompanied by a rise in error rates. “Between Jan. 1, 2005, and Dec. 31, 2009, more than 56,000 adverse events and 710 deaths associated with infusion devices were reported to FDA—more than for any other medical technology.”3 Several factors contribute to error rates, and among them is the fact that “There is a lack of knowledge/familiarity with infusion devices and a lack of effective training in their use…”4 Furthermore, the training environment has challenges of its own.

In hospitals, high nurse turnover requires managers to train/onboard a steady stream of new hires. Understandably, they want to complete this process as quickly and effectively as possible. Another consideration is that overwork is a contributing factor to nurse turnover. So, hospital administrators seek ways to limit the demands on their nurses’ time—including hours spent on training. The problem is that traditional training methodologies, systems, and tools, tend to be both expensive and time consuming.

There are two main training challenges hospital educators need to overcome. These are:

    1. Ensuring and certifying smart pump proficiency. The primary goal of smart pump education solutions is to promote and certify nurse proficiency in their use. Yet achieving that qualification can be cumbersome, time consuming and inconsistent.
    2. Delivering cost-effective training. Budget constraints make economical approaches to clinical proficiency an imperative. Yet traditional educational solutions tend to be manually intensive, consuming inordinate labor hours to schedule, track, report and identify trainees who need additional smart pump training. Instructor-led training, for example, entails expensive use of resources including instructors. Moreover, securing physical smart pumps for training purposes can be difficult, which reduces training opportunities for learners.

“Immersive learning environments that use virtual simulation (VS) technology are increasingly relevant as medical learners train in an environment of restricted clinical training hours and a heightened focus on patient safety.”5

Pump Application Evidence-Based Use Cases

The evidence below is based on two use cases of the Health Scholars’ Smart Pump application. Both trainee populations used Health Scholars’ interactive scenario-based simulation application as illustrated in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1: The Health Scholars tablet Smart Pump Training application in use.

Use Case #1 – Acute Care Hospital System, OSF HealthCare

Managers at OSF St. Francis Medical Center (OSF) used the application with a nurse population of 804 to achieve a number of goals.6

      • To promote patient safety via smart pump proficiency.
      • To tailor training to learners’ skill levels.
      • To efficiently identify additional training for nurses that required it.
      • To quickly and effectively onboard new staff.
      • To conduct sustainment training of current nurses.


The training outcomes for the 804 nurses at OSF were as follows:

Ensuring and certifying smart pump proficiency

✓ 80 percent of trainees demonstrated proficiency, i.e. were certified, upon the completion of the application training.

      • Educators quickly identified those nurses who required additional training to be competencies.
      • The application’s ease of use and targeted learning/proficiency demonstration contributed to participants rating the app as a “highly preferred” experience (70 percent.)
      • The application enabled self-directed learning, where nurses trained at the time of their choosing outside of a classroom setting. This method, when combined with interactive techniques such as those incorporated into the application, have been found to be an effective learning mode7. This made it more convenient, sidestepping the need for class/room training with an attendant instructor. Nor was it necessary for trainees to have access to a physical smart pump. Thus, they could log more practice programming the pump. This approach reduces the time demands on nurses and trainers in hospital settings to support retention objectives.

Delivering cost-effective training

OSF implemented a standardized training application for use across its nursing population.

The use of a single application streamlined content delivery and ensured that content goals were met based on nurse experience. For example, the application provided more in-depth training and practice for new nurses while experienced nurses used the application to demonstrate proficiency and be certified. As a result:

✓ OSF’s smart infusion pump training with the application led to cost savings of $123,200. This is based on a reduction by 88 percent in the training hours needed to meet proficiency standards—from 6,400 hours using traditional training methods, down to 800 hours via the smart pump application. Experienced nurses, for example, were able to achieve certification with a 15-minute session, versus the traditional two-hour training method.

The application allowed educators to quickly identify—in minutes versus hours using legacy tools—the nurses who required further training. The Health Scholars’ Smart Pump application automatically tracked test results. This liberated low-value labor hours formerly applied to manually-intensive methods to be applied to higher-value tasks.

Use Case #2 – Nursing School Education

“Overall the [Health Scholars Smart Pump] app was a valued alternative to the traditional means of educating nursing students on use of smart infusion pumps.” 8

This nursing simulation center use case is based upon a study published in the Clinical Simulation in Nursing journal9.The findings were:

      • Pre- versus post-survey competence scores were comparable to traditional teaching methods. (p. 32.)
      • Time spent hanging primary and secondary infusions were comparable to traditional teaching methods. (p. 32.)
      • The Health Scholars’ Smart Pump application was easy to use. An overwhelming majority of users, 70.2% of users agreed/strongly agreed. (p. 33.) Moreover, Users “overall favored the app learning method.” (p. 33.)
      • The application was easy to learn. A majority of students, 50.9% agreed/strongly agreed. (p. 33.)
      • An increase in learner confidence was comparable to traditional teaching methods. (p. 32.)

“Introducing a new educational method should enhance learning for the student or improve teaching by the educator. We believe this method of using an [Health Scholars] electronic [smart pump] application for teaching students may do both.”10

Implications for hospital settings

The study validated the results of OSF’s application use case. Specifically, it found that:

      • The Health Scholars’ Smart pump application delivered proficiency at least as well as traditional didactic teaching methods.
      • Students found the application easy to use and agreed that others could learn to use it quickly.
      • The application boosted learner confidence and while not specifically measured in OSF’s case, can be inferred based on user ratings.

The Health Scholars’ Smart Pump application was designed to deliver smart pump proficiency to nurse populations. Moreover, evidence shows that the application not only meets that goal but is also cost-effective in helping educators promote patient safety through education.

By tailoring the application’s training to nurses’ skill levels, hospital educators can deliver targeted content to their nurses. New/onboarding nurses receive more in-depth training while experienced nurses can be certified proficient in minutes, using the same tool. In this way it optimizes the use of trainees’ and educators’ time. The self-paced, anywhere training application features liberate trainees to practice at the time and place of their choosing. And proficiency test results are automatically collected, tabulated and reported so that managers can quickly identify nurses who have achieved competency as well as those who require further instruction.

The Health Scholars’ Smart Pump application helps hospital educators ensure smart pump proficiency across their entire nurse population in less time and at a lower cost.

About Health Scholars

Health Scholars was founded by healthcare professionals who recognized the need to advance immersive education and clinical training effectiveness. Our mission is to improve patient safety via the delivery of experiential learning and advanced simulation to nurses, physicians and team-based healthcare staff via a single, future ready education platform. One that is easy to use, is scalable across a health system, and more effectively manages, delivers and analyzes blended learning programs.

The Health Scholars One Blended Learning Platform delivers advanced learning technologies, methodologies and the best mix of modern and engaging content, including virtual reality simulations. It improves the efficiency of delivering blended learning programs, and combined with interactive content solutions, improves the effectiveness of education programs.

Health Scholars is headquartered in Denver, Colorado and has clinical and support operations embedded in the world-class Jump Trading Simulation and Education Center on the OSF Campus in Peoria, Illinois.

To Learn More

Contact us today to learn how our proven Smart Pump application can help you:

      • Reduce errors to improve patient safety.
      • To significantly reduce smart pump training costs and the time learners spend to train and demonstrate proficiency.
      • To tailor training to learners’ needs: more in-depth for new learners, and less-but-proficiency-demonstrating level for seasoned nurses.
      • To provide standardized onboarding and ongoing training of new hires and current nurses.
      • To deliver consistent, proven training across health systems.
1 Compatible with tables and pcs alike.
2 “Smart Pumps in Practice: Survey Results Reveal Widespread Use, but Optimization Is Challenging,” ISMP, April 5, 2018.
3 Vockley, Martha, “Infusing Patients Safely: Priority Issues from the AAMI/FDA Infusion Device Summit,” AAMI, 2010, p. 5.
4 Ibid, p. 4.
5 McGrath, Jillian, L, MD; Taekman, Jeffrey, M., MD; Dev, Parvati, PhD, “Using Virtual Reality Simulation Environments to Assess Competence for Emergency Medicine Learners,” The Society for Academic Emergency Medicine, 2017, p. 1.
6 A video overview of the application’s use at OSF HealthCare may be found here.
7 Bluestone, Julia; Johnson, Peter; Fullerton, Judith, et. al. “Effective in-service training design and delivery: evidence from an integrative literature review,” Human Resources for Health, 2013, 11:51, see Discussion.
8 Quattromani, Erin, MD; Hassler, Margaret, MSN, RN-BC, CHSE; Rogers, Nikki, MSN, RN, et al, “Smart Pump App for Infusion Pump Training,” Clinical Simulation in Nursing, April, 2018, Vol. 17, p. 33.
9 Quattromani, Erin, MD, ibid, pp. 28-37.
10 Ibid, p. 33.

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