Pharmacy OneSource Blog

Infection Prevention: How to Reap the Benefits From Electronic Surveillance

Posted on 05/20/15

Infection-Preventionist

Successful infection prevention and control programs depend on a robust and comprehensive surveillance system in order to reduce healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) and develop protocols to prevent the emergence of multi-drug resistant organisms in healthcare organizations.

Manual surveillance and reporting is timely and retrospective, leaving little time for other critical infection prevention activities such as intervention, education, and performance improvement. Increasingly, hospitals find that the task and time allocation dictated by manual surveillance stymie their efforts to implement robust infection prevention programs and reduce HAIs. To redress this imbalance, they implement electronic surveillance systems.

Using an electronic surveillance system provides many potential benefits:

  • Efficiently streamlines the surveillance process in lieu of manual data entry, decreasing time spent on surveillance and clerical tasks and freeing up time for pressing infection prevention duties.

  • Improves timely identification of patterns, trends, antibiotic resistant organisms.

  • Monitors for public health issues by identifying potential communicable diseases and community-acquired illnesses.

  • Complies with regulatory measures for public reporting to the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN); electronic surveillance systems can help analyze, report, and enter data electronically into NHSN.1

  • Improve financial performance by preventing and reducing HAIs ; healthcare organizations can benefit from significant reduction of healthcare costs.

Getting the most from your electronic surveillance system

How can your infection prevention team gain the maximum benefit from using your electronic surveillance system, once implemented?   Here are 4 basic strategies to consider:   

1. Form close working relationships with the vendor: Know your support professionals by name. Keep their contact numbers where they will be easily found.

2. Take full advantage of resources: Utilize any and all educational opportunities offered by the vendor to train your team to effectively use the system.

3. Schedule and dedicate departmental time: Review uses and functionality. Identify and investigate all system options; orient all infection prevention staff to the change in workflow the system requires, by design.

4. Network and request input from other infection prevention peers who are using the same electronic system.

Securing the full benefits from an electronic surveillance system requires a commitment to master and continually reinvest in using your system to improve patient outcomes.  

Have you worked with an infection prevention electronic-assisted surveillance system? What capabilities did you consider most important?

infection prevention

Topics: Infection Prevention

About the Author

Tim McMenamin has more than 30 years of experience in the Hospital Information Technology (HIT) industry and has been an active member of HIMSS, ASHP, HFMA and other healthcare communities for many years. Leveraging emerging technologies to deliver clinical content to the point-of-care has been an area of special interest and research.