Healthcare is in flux. Particularly in the United States, demographics, economics, and technology are driving changes to care delivery mechanisms from the micro to the macro scale. The practice of anesthesiology is itself facing dizzying changes — such as fewer resources and patients with greater need.

Conversely, the integration of advanced technology into everyday clinical practice offers real hope. The power of artificial intelligence (AI), for example, will redefine patient care standards. Central to this paradigm shift is the RIVANNA® Accuro® Neuraxial Guidance device. Designed to navigate the complexities of the lumbar spine with unprecedented precision, Accuro is poised to lead the trends in neuraxial anesthesia.

Below is a forecast of 2024 as it applies to the practice of anesthesiology — along with suggestions for making the most of what experts predict to be a tumultuous year.

Anesthesiologists will do more with less in 2024

Healthcare is under unprecedented strain, from residual COVID-19 burnout to closures and consolidation within healthcare networks. Couple these constraints with an aging population and rising care demands as the burden of serving patients increasingly falls on healthcare practitioners.

This dilemma has cast a stark light on anesthesiologists in particular as they grapple with the ramifications of a diminished healthcare infrastructure — especially in rural settings. With fewer skilled anesthetists in the field, less time to allocate per procedure, and other persistent challenges, Accuro has emerged as a solution for them to do more with less.

Accuro’s AI-powered neuraxial guidance system serves as a crucial support for overextended anesthesiologists, mitigating the risks associated with human fatigue while enhancing the precision of complex procedures like administration of neuraxial blocks. Situations involving nuanced physiological complexities stand to benefit immensely from Accuro’s precision, which is proven to increase first-attempt success rates exceeding 94%.

In 2024 (and beyond), hospitals and healthcare organizations need to consider the powerful investment in technologies like Accuro — especially where they recognize the struggle of staff anesthetists.

CRNAs will play a bigger role in epidural delivery

The dynamics within the field of anesthesiology are also set to evolve in 2024 — particularly with regard to Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs). CRNAs are stepping into more prominent roles, especially within the realm of epidural administration. This shift isn’t just a response to staff shortages of anesthesiologists, but also a strategic utilization of the high-level training and expertise that CRNAs possess.

As they assume a larger role, the need for advanced technology to aid these professionals becomes more pronounced. Again, there’s significant opportunity in innovative tools like Accuro, which are transforming how CRNAs deliver care. For example, Accuro provides real-time, automated epidural guidance to augment a CRNAs’ skillset. This not only boosts their confidence; it complements their expertise and enhances precision when delivering neuraxial anesthesia, which traditionally required the guesswork of palpation methods.

Enhanced guidance in epidural placements means reduced procedure times, lowered risk of complications, and, ultimately, improved patient satisfaction. Furthermore, this empowerment of CRNAs is instrumental in addressing healthcare disparities by making essential anesthetic care more accessible when an anesthesiologist is not available.

Epidurals will be more common in total joint replacements

The landscape of surgical pain management is evolving, with a notable shift towards the utilization of epidurals in total joint replacement surgeries. This change isn’t just a matter of preference; it’s anchored in substantive benefits.

Epidurals, known for their effectiveness in managing postoperative pain, facilitate a smoother recovery process and often contribute to quicker patient mobilization. They play a crucial role in the enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) protocols, significantly reducing the systemic narcotic requirements — and, consequently, narcotic-related side effects. This approach aligns with the current healthcare trajectory aimed at optimizing patient comfort and expediting rehabilitation, essential factors in procedures as intricate as joint replacements.

In this advancing arena, the Accuro shines again. It improves epidural placements, transforming what was once a highly skilled and exclusively manual procedure into a more approachable technique with a higher success rate. By offering real-time spinal imaging and automated epidural detection, Accuro mitigates the common challenges associated with the traditional landmark technique, especially in patients with difficult anatomy.

With these advancements, it’s foreseeable that the reliance on epidurals (facilitated by Accuro) will expand, making total joint replacements and various other surgical procedures more accessible and less daunting for patients and providers alike — and is yet another instance of technology and human skill working in unison, for the benefit of patient outcomes and procedural efficacy.

Supporting the future of neuraxial anesthesia

Indeed, it’s becoming clear that innovation and adaptability are the framework of anesthesiology’s future. Accuro stands at the forefront of this evolution, with AI-enabled technology designed to enhance precision and efficiency in anesthesia delivery. By embracing technology, medical professionals affirm their commitment to excellence, to ensure patient care continually reaches new heights.

The coming year is about more than just keeping pace with change; it’s about leading the charge towards a more promising, reliable, and advanced healthcare landscape.

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