Skip to main content

The use of Visualisation Technology for venepuncture and cannulation

25 Feb 2020 | Thobekile Ncube A speaker from the 2019 Advance HE NET Conference, Thobekile Ncube, Lecturer at Middlesex University, shares her thoughts on Infrared Visualisation Technology for third-year nursing students to enhance their knowledge and skills in venepuncture and cannulation.

In 2014 I looked after an outpatient Haematology patient who required a blood test. The patient had veins that were difficult to visualise and palpitate. Before the first attempt, the patient requested if the Haematology department could use the newly purchased, ‘super power’ infrared visualisation device to show his veins in real time. The patient had been informed of this technology by the Consultant in a previous admission and with great success, the bloods were taken in a few minutes.

Understandably, the patient requested for the technology because they did not want to go through numerous attempts of blood taking and the discomfort of the procedure. More so the patient was fascinated that he could visualise his own veins, locate the best veins for future blood tests and proudly explain to their family members this incredible technology.

Benefits of technology

Fast forward a few years until I had left the Trust to become a Lecturer at Middlesex University, I recounted that story of the patient’s experience to the third year student nurses in a Venepuncture and Cannulation session. I explained how technology, alongside their skills and knowledge, can improve the patient experience and outcome when performing this procedure.

In 2017, we introduced this technology for pre and post-registration nursing sessions in Venepuncture and Cannulation. This was to link theory and knowledge to the clinical practice and the current technology found in Trusts. The students are now able to visualise their own veins in themselves and their colleagues in a classroom.

Teaching variety 

In the 21st Century, technology is always transforming and the pace of technological evolution in health care is always advancing (Risling, 2016). It was thought that the users of technology will need only to know how it works. However, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (2019) has launched standards to shape the next generation of nurses by using a more modern and innovative approach to the way Higher Education institutions (HEIs) and their practice partners train nurses.

Student nurses are now demanding more variety in teaching styles and the use of technology in classrooms rather than the traditional method of facilitating sessions. Infrared Visualisation Technology (IVT) is the norm in some London Acute Hospital settings regarding invasive procedures such as venepuncture and cannulation.

The use of IVT in HE is a key advancement in nurses’ knowledge and skills in venepuncture and cannulation. According to the NICE [2014] and Chiao et al. (2012) there is a life expectancy increment for patients who have several procedures throughout their lifetime and vein preservation is seen as a vital long-term task.

A device that helps reduce cannulation and venepuncture attempts is one step towards vein preservation (Chiao et al., 2012). With technological advancement, this will allow health care professionals and nursing students in the UK to improve vein visibility with evidence-based techniques and devices which make it easier for medical professionals and students alike.

As a UK university, it is important that our nursing and midwifery students are provided with the learning tools, such this technology, to enhance their learning.

According to Risling [2016] nursing educators are encouraged to consider the roles of technology in their teaching practice. Student nurses should be offered ongoing educational opportunities to enhance a wide spectrum of professional skills. It must be noted that in the next five to ten years student nurses will certainly inhabit a very different practice environment and technology will be key in this transformation.

The call for papers deadline for NET Conference 2020 has been extended until 20 March 2020. Whether an experienced conference presenter or taking that first step towards speaking in front of an audience, we would like to hear about your research projects and new initiatives in healthcare education. Submit your abstract here.


Thobekile Ncube is a Lecturer at Middlesex University who teaches on the Nursing Programme. She is the clinical skills module leader, Clinical and Educational Lead for Venepuncture and Cannulation and is currently working with the IV Capital Nurse project for London.


  • Barton, A. [2018] Clinical use of a closed-system safety peripheral intravenous cannulas. British Journal of Nursing. 27[8]
  • Chiao, F.B, Resa-Flarer, F, Lesser, J, Ng, j, Ganz, A., Pino-Luey, D., Bennett.H., Perkins.C and Witek.B [2013] Vein visualisation: patient characteristic factors an efficacy of a new infrared vein finder technology. British Journal of Anaesthesia.110[6] 966-971
  • Dougherty, L and Lister, S [2015] The Royal Marsden Manual of Clinical Nursing Procedures. Wiley Blackwell.
  • Risling, T [2016] Educating the nurses of 2025: Technology trends of the next decade. Nurse Education in Practice.
  • Higgins, D. [2004] Venepuncture. Nursing times [100]39
  • NICE Guidelines 2014 AccuVein AV400 for vein visualisation. Medtech innovation briefing[MIB6]



Keep up to date - Sign up to Advance HE communications

Our monthly newsletter contains the latest news from Advance HE, updates from around the sector, links to articles sharing knowledge and best practice and information on our services and upcoming events. Don't miss out, sign up to our newsletter now.

Sign up to our enewsletter