Ventilator App: Fighting COVID


CLEVELAND, Ohio (Ivanhoe Newswire) — There are 160,000 ventilators in the United States. During this crisis, many have been deployed to the centers where the need has been greatest. Now scientists at the Cleveland Clinic have introduced a program that is helping providers on the front lines learn how to operate an unfamiliar system quickly.

By the time many COVID-19 patients arrive at an emergency room, they may be in critical condition.

Robert Chatburn MHHS, RRT-NPS, FAARC, Professor of Medicine at Lerner College of Medicine and Enterprise Program Manager of Respiratory Care Research at Cleveland Clinic explained to Ivanhoe, “The usage of mechanical ventilators has increased exponentially in a very short period of time. And therefore, the people who must use the ventilators and understand how to operate them have to come up to speed very quickly.”

(Read Full Interview)

“There are 38 different manufacturers and 400 and something models. They each have proprietary settings,” noted Jay Alberts, PhD, neuroscientist, and bioengineer at Cleveland Clinic.

Alberts says, think of the ventilator like a car. D means drive in every make or model, but other operations vary widely. Alberts says three years ago his bioengineering students began working on a cell phone app to help providers understand how to use different types of ventilators. The project was shelved because there was no pressing need until now.

“We updated it, revived it, and turned it really from a student project to a full-fledged development project. And that took really about a week for us to turn it around,” recalled Alberts.

Users can tap on a model of ventilator they are familiar with, and then tap on a picture of their new model to get information on how to find settings and program it.

Alberts explained, “It’s a very easy application that really just tries to connect two dots.”

Saving time on the hospital front lines- and saving lives.

Jay Alberts says the Ventilator Mode Map App is live right now at the Cleveland Clinic and is available to other caregivers across the U.S. It’s free to download and is available on the iTunes store and Android.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Executive & Field Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer & Editor.

To receive a free weekly e-mail on Medical Breakthroughs from Ivanhoe, sign up at:





REPORT:       MB #4746

BACKGROUND: Mechanical ventilation is one of the most common interventions implemented in the intensive care unit (ICU). In the first 24 hours of an ICU admission, more than half of the patients are ventilated. These patients include those with acute respiratory failure, compromised lung function, difficulty in breathing, or failure to protect their airway.  There are several methods of mechanical ventilation support that provide air to the patient based on pressure, flow and volume. Mechanical ventilation is known for saving lives, but can also be associated with life threatening complications, including air leaks and pneumonia.


VENTILATORS AND COVID-19: Some intensive care units are waiting until the last possible moment, when it is truly a life-or-death decision, to put a COVID-19 patient on a ventilator. “We let these patients tolerate a little more hypoxia [oxygen deficiency]. We give them more oxygen. We don’t intubate them until they are truly in respiratory distress,” said Dr. Udit Chaddha, an interventional pulmonologist with Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. “If you do this correctly, if you put somebody on the ventilator when they need to be put on the ventilator and not prematurely, then the ventilator is the only option.” Experts estimate that between 40% and 50% of patients die after going on ventilation, regardless of the underlying illness. Ventilated patients are at risk of ventilator-associated acute lung injury, infection, and psychological complications. ICU’s are becoming more cautious in their use of ventilation, using oxygen and breathing dilators like nitric oxide to keep people drawing their own breath for as long as possible.


IMPROVEMENTS IN CARING FOR COVID PATIENTS: A home monitoring program has been developed that allows caregivers to quickly respond to those in need. This new tool is designed to manage care fast and efficiently while keeping patients safe in their homes. It’s an app that provides an alternative to virtual visits by enabling a personalized connection between patients and providers and is connected to patients’ medical records. “The idea is for the patient to feel engaged in their healthcare and that somebody is watching over them – it gives them that extra level of comfort,” said Eric Boose, Associate Chief of Cleveland Clinic’s Medical Information Office. “Using technology as part of the health care team is a big change for all of us during this pandemic, but it also gives us this great capability of keeping an eye on a larger amount of patients at one time, so that we can really focus on the ones that are having condition changes.”






If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at

Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Jay Alberts, PhD, Neuroscience and Biomedical Engineering and Technology Development, Robert Chatburn, MHHS, RRT-NPS, FAARC

Read the entire Q&A