Pharmacy OneSource Blog

Making Data “Actionable” for More Proactive Infection Prevention Efforts

Posted on 09/02/15

Infection Preventionist Using Real-Time Data

Today’s quality-driven healthcare landscape demands that hospitals take a proactive stance against healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). Infection prevention efforts focused on reactive management of these preventable conditions is no longer adequate. They must eliminate the occurrence of HAIs or face notable financial and reputational implications.

Consider that for fiscal year 2015, hospitals could lose up to 5% of Medicare reimbursement if efforts to reduce HAIs and readmissions fail. Specifically, 1% of at-risk revenue is tied to catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI) and central-line associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI) rates. By 2016, 85% of all Medicare payments will be tied to quality or value measures, and by 2018, that number will reach 90%. Private payers are expected to follow suit.

Data is critical to moving infection prevention from reactive to proactive. Infection preventionists (IPs) need actionable patient data at their fingertips in real-time in order to identify at-risk patients or gaps in care delivery. Unfortunately, many IP workflows are characterized by manual processes, where patient data must be pulled from multiple databases and sources including microbiology, laboratory, radiology, patient progress notes and registration information. While a wealth of critical patient data exists, making it actionable for proactive response is simply not possible.                                                              

In light of multiple regulatory initiatives converging at once to target reduction of HAIs, most hospitals recognize the urgency for implementing sustainable infection prevention and control programs. The challenge is allocating the resources needed to address time-consuming surveillance and reporting requirements while elevating the role of IPs to focus on higher-level patient initiatives. A survey conducted by the Virginia Department of Health revealed that more than 50% of IPs believed they would need to spend at least an additional five hours per week for each type of HAI infection they were required to report to the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN).

Without an infection prevention strategy supported by real-time data that is delivered in a meaningful format, infection prevention staff are hindered in their efforts to move the needle on outcomes. For this reason, electronic surveillance systems are critical to raising the bar on HAI prevention.

Use of an advanced electronic surveillance system like Sentri7®, embedded with clinical decision support content, can help enable IPs to:

  • Identify at-risk patients, HAIs and multi-drug resistant organisms in real-time, enabling clinicians to proactively intervene and treat patients before an infection occurs or when the infection is in its early stages.

  • Manage isolation precautions more efficiently and effectively from admission or upon identification, reducing the spread of infections and improving through-put.

  • Maximize “hard-loss” savings. Historically, infection prevention has been viewed as a non-revenue producing department. Proactive infection prevention efforts will be essential in maximizing hard loss savings or avoidance.

  • Protect against potential loss of reputation or market share related to greater visibility of HAIs through mandatory public reporting.

  • Improve regulatory compliance. Standardized infection ratios require consistent and thorough documentation to ensure accuracy. NHSN reporting requires aggregation and cross-checking of multiple data streams. Robust reporting mechanisms within Sentri7 indicate infection rates by type and organism, flagging in real time those that may require NHSN reporting.

Simply put, proactive infection prevention must be supported by actionable data. IPs must be provided with the resources and technology infrastructure that supports a more effective and efficient approach to HAIs.

infection prevention options

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.