Revolutionizing IV Access With TournIQ: Interview With Jonathan Ilicki, Co-Founder of Ortrud Medical

IV access is one of the most common clinical procedures in healthcare, with over 300 million hospitalized patients in the United States receiving a peripheral venous catheter every year. However, as many have painfully experienced, catheter insertion isn’t always successful on the first attempt. Often times, we place the blame on dehydration, our deep veins, or the healthcare worker’s lack of skill.

Surprisingly, the humble tourniquet plays a very significant role in whether or not IV access is successful on the first poke. To maximize the chances of success, and to spare our arms the additional pain, Stockholm-based Ortrud Medical has designed TournIQ, a tourniquet that helps the user apply optimal pressure on the arm to increase vein visibility, palpability, and size when gaining IV access.

TournIQ is unique in that it features “Kiri-Tech” which are mechanical features built into the tourniquet that allow it to stretch to indicate when optimal pressure has been reached. Moreover, TournIQ is single-use, but made from recyclable paper-like Tyvek, which uses 6 times less material than other single-use tourniquets, and helps allay concerns about hygiene compliance and environmental impact.

We wanted to learn more about why re-innovating the tourniquet is so important right now, so we sat down with Ortrud Medical’s co-founder and board member, Dr. Jonathan Ilicki, to share more about TournIQ.

Scott Jung, Medgadget: Tourniquets have reliably been around for many years with little innovation. What are some of their problems, and how does TournIQ address them?

Dr. Jonathan Ilicki, Ortrud Medical: Several studies have shown that reusable tourniquets can spread drug resistant bacteria. Single-use tourniquets address this, but these disposable tourniquets often apply the wrong pressure on the arm, which causes poor venous dilation. This is one of the reasons why up to every third IV attempt fails.

TournIQ combines the hygienical aspects of single use tourniquets with a unique pressure indicator that guides the user to apply pressure that gives the quickest and largest venous dilation. Bigger veins mean more successful IV attempts. As IV access is performed so often, and is so critical, this can really help patients and reduce complications and costs for healthcare providers.

Medgadget: Why is TournIQ particularly important during COVID-19?

Dr. Ilicki: Disposable tourniquets have been used in the US for some time but adoption has been slow in Europe and the rest of the world. COVID-19 has made many European health care providers rapidly shift to disposable tourniquets. However, this shift has often met resistance as disposable tourniquets often are less user friendly and apply a lower pressure, and nurses get frustrated over the sudden difficulty of having to place IVs in small veins. We designed TournIQ to specifically address this: being hygienical as well as simplifying IV access through correct pressure, and is why several larger providers have shifted to using it following our market launch in Sweden only 6 months ago.

Medgadget: What’s the story behind TournIQ’s creation and development?

Dr. Ilicki: A few years ago the co-founders and I participated in a Clinical Innovation Fellowship, . The program matched me, an MD with a business degree, with Patrik Nilsson, MSc in Industrial Design, and Caroline Dahl, phD in Biomechanics, with the aim to solve a big problem in healthcare. We spent weeks observing clinical needs and quickly zoomed in IV access. At the end of the fellowship, we realized that we had come up with a simple and groundbreaking innovation – and that we could create a new global standard for safe IV access. TournIQ was created and Ortrud Medical was founded.

Medgadget: What was your process in evaluating different materials and ultimately choosing Tyvek for TournIQ?

Dr. Ilicki: We were looking for a material that was resilient, comfortable for patients, and most importantly recyclable and as environmentally friendly as possible. TournIQ’s low weight and recyclable material mean a smaller carbon footprint and a more sustainable product life cycle than other tourniquets.

Medgadget: Can you share some of the successes you’ve had with your customers who are using TournIQ?

Dr. Ilicki: There are many interesting stories! One example is a leading private surgical clinic that gave TournIQ a trial run, but they liked it so much that the whole clinic shifted from reusable tourniquets to TournIQ. We’ve done several follow up studies and see that users love TournIQ. In one study 90% of nurses stated that TournIQ gives better venous dilation. Another study showed that users got an average increase in venous dilation of 70% – which makes IV access a lot easier!

Another example is an emergency department that previously had shifted from reusable tourniquets to a market-leading disposable tourniquet in order to improve hygiene. However, due to poor usability and poor venous dilation, the staff refused to use the disposable and went back to reusable tourniquets. The department then tried TournIQ, loved it, and have now shifted to only using TournIQ at their emergency department.

During the past months, covid-19 has catalyzed the interest in TournIQ – and it’s now being used in half of Sweden’s 21 regions! Distributors have also contacted us and the tourniquet will within short be used in other parts of the world.

Medgadget: Lastly, where does the name “Ortrud” come from?

Dr. Ilicki: During the fellowship, we did a deep dive into IV access and the role of tourniquets. We were tutored by a senior nurse named Ortrud Kasche who had been placing IVs ever since when they were made of metal instead of flexible plastic! She emphasized the role of optimizing the core factors in order to succeed with IV access, such as applying correct pressure to get proper venous dilation. We decided to name the company after Ortrud as a tribute to really understanding IV access and getting the basics right – which we feel she personifies.

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Krithika is a multi-lingual undergraduate student, currently majoring in Chemistry. With a vivacious personality, she uses her unique and quirky voice to write fun and relatable content in any field. She loves anything to do with cognitive neuroscience and adores Brandon Sanderson and the Infinite Monkey Cage podcast.