Ventilator makers team up to fight COVID-19


Ventilators are crucial in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, so a group of leading medical manufacturers has joined forces to provide training in the use of this vital equipment.

Led by Medtronic, the Ventilator Training Alliance (VTA) has launched an app which gives healthcare professionals one central location for training across many ventilator models.

Medtronic Australia and New Zealand's vice-president and managing director, Tim Fortin, said speed and ease of access to ventilator training could have a direct impact on patients’ health during the COVID-19 crisis.

“In working through the complexities with broad access to the necessary training content, Medtronic recognised that we are not alone in some of the challenges we face and perhaps have larger problems we can help solve,” Mr Fortin said.

“Medtronic reached out to an app developer, Allego, to identify a solution for training respiratory therapists and other frontline medical professionals quickly on new vents they may not be familiar with, and invited other manufacturers to join the effort.”

The global pandemic has meant a range of new ventilator models in hospitals, and there is a shortage of respiratory therapists, so information on using the devices is in high demand.

The VTA app connects respiratory therapists, nurses and other medical professionals with ventilator training resources from alliance member companies, including instructional how-to videos, manuals, trouble shooting guides and other ventilator operation expertise critical to treating patients suffering from COVID-19-related respiratory distress.

Mr Fortin said Medtronic is doing all it can to help ease the burden for healthcare professionals in the current climate.

“To support the public health and medical response of governmental agencies around the world, Medtronic has also publicly shared the design specifications for the Puritan Bennett 560 (PB 560) ventilator, to enable participants across industries to evaluate options for battling COVID-19,” he said.

“Since we made that announcement, more than 90,000 requests for the design specification have been made globally.”

Content on the VTA app can be accessed on iOS and Android devices – even in environments with little to no Wi-Fi coverage – or from a web browser. 

The app provides healthcare professionals multi-language closed captioning and mobile background audio when multitasking.

Patrick Berges, chairman of the VTA and vice-president of commercial capabilities, part of the Minimally Invasive Therapies Group at Medtronic, said it was heartwarming to see the industry come together.

“We can help overcome this pandemic by collaborating across companies, agencies and industries to deliver smart solutions that add value and reduce stress for frontline healthcare heroes when every minute matters,” he said.

“This training alliance is a great example of that collaborative spirit. 

“Being able to share content from a variety of ventilator manufacturers all in one place ensures that hospitals can quickly access information they may need to accelerate putting life saving ventilators to use.”

Medtronic's VTA partners so far include Drager, GE Healthcare, Getinge and Hamilton Medical, Nihon Kohden and Philips.

Medtronic is a Major Sponsor of APHA.

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