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May 1, 2020

Ventilator Training Alliance Featured on TopMedTalk Podcast

Dr using the VTA app on an iPadOne of the leading medical podcasts has featured the Ventilator Training Alliance (VTA) app, used by thousands of frontline clinicians to gain access to critical ventilator training information from manufacturers. In a VTA episode in its COVID-19 series, TopMedTalk covered how the app came to be—from initial idea to launch—what challenges it was designed to solve and how it’s helping clinicians on the frontlines.

The app uses Allego’s proprietary technology to provide access to a centralized knowledge hub of training resources including instructional how-to videos, manuals, troubleshooting guides, and other ventilator-operation expertise that’s crucial to helping responders treat patients suffering from COVID-19-related respiratory distress. Since the app launched on April 15, it’s been downloaded 24,000 times in 148 countries. It’s now one of the top ten apps in the U.S. and Canada and the #2 app in Brazil, second only to Zoom.

Monty Mythen, professor of anaesthesia and critical care at University College London, shared his gratitude for the app. “I work in critical care. This was a very tangible challenge on the frontlines. We had ventilators arriving from wherever we could get them. It’s like getting any new technology or upgrading your phone, for example. You know what the main buttons do but you can’t quite work out more subtle things,” he said. “The timing was perfect. It’s great to see all the manufacturers working together.”

COVID-19 Stories from Around the World

TopMedTalk focuses on medical news including innovations, new technology, updates from conferences around the globe, discussions of recent literature and interviews with professionals. The podcast has over 100,000 downloads In 100+ countries, reaching a broad audience of people interested in healthcare and improving outcomes.

TopMedTalk’s COVID-19 series focuses on the global pandemic, covering stories from around the world. Host and managing editor Desirée Chappell, CRNA, and podcast co-founder and editor-in-chief Monty Mythen interviewed executives from Medtronic, the initiator of the VTA. The episode featured Pat Berges, Vice President of Global Commercial Capabilities, Medtronic; Ariel Mactavish, Vice President, General Manager of Respiratory Interventions, Medtronic; and Michelle Jones, Senior Director, Global Marketing, Patient Monitoring and Minimally Invasive Therapies, Medtronic.

The VTA app has made a big impact on the medical community. Berges shared a conversation he had with respiratory therapist Jose Ramirez about how the app reduces anxiety and takes the pressure off clinicians on the frontlines. “There are moments when we’re standing between a dying patient and an unfamiliar ventilator. The faster we’re able to help the better.”

Helping Clinicians on the Frontlines

Pat Berges, chair of the Alliance, recalled that the initial idea for the VTA emerged on April 3 when a group at Medtronic was talking about all the new ventilator models coming to market. The team realized that many clinicians were using unfamiliar equipment to care for patients. Because of the pandemic, hospitals must source ventilators from wherever they can and bring in brands that they didn’t have before. At many hospitals, non-ICU trained staff are pressed into service to use these ventilators.

“We identified a significant training gap and realized it was broader than Medtronic, it was industry wide. We started exploring opportunities to solve the broader problem,” said Berges. “I called Yuchun Lee, CEO of a company we had worked with on sales training called Allego. I explained the issue with new ventilators on the market and new users. Within the first five minutes, Yuchun said, ‘I’m in, how can I help?’”

Over the next week Medtronic started reaching out to its competitors to create a central resource library and, with Allego as its technology partner, launched the app under two weeks. “It’s phenomenal to see the progress that’s been made. We launched the app on April 15 and have seen tremendous adoption. It’s meeting a significant need,” added Berges.

He noted that people at many companies put in long hours to make the app a reality. “People want to help in a time of crisis. The team at Allego dedicated their entire organization from April 3 to April 15 to getting a brand new app designed, built, and approved. There’s no commercialization activity and no profit to be had. It was amazing to see humanity come together.”

The Alliance is a dynamic effort that will evolve to meet the needs of clinicians as new information emerges in a rapidly changing situation. The VTA now includes ten manufacturers, with another ten in the process of joining, a majority of manufacturers in the world. The app is updated daily with hundreds of new assets, helping train both novice users and expert clinicians who aren’t familiar with the equipment as quickly as possible.

Medtronic, Allego and all the members of the VTA are committed to supporting medical workers throughout the pandemic. Berges added, “We’ll continue to get the word out. We need to raise awareness to help frontline heroes save time and save lives.”

Listen to the Podcast

You can listen to the entire episode at:

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