How Radical Alignment can Reduce Healthcare Acquired Infections

Healthcare Acquired Infections (HAIs), or infections that patients contract while receiving treatment in a healthcare facility, are a serious threat to patient safety. The statistics on HAIs are startling. An estimated 1.7 million infections occur in U.S. hospitals each year, resulting in 99,000 deaths which is more than from breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. Anyone admitted to a hospital has a 5 percent chance of contracting an HAI, and they cost the healthcare system around $35 billion per year.

Healthcare Acquired Infections can be spread in a host of ways and there is no silver bullet to solve this severe problem. However, let’s look at three main elements that can impact hospitals processes and procedures and can reduce HAIs.

Space

By examining the flow of space in a hospital, or the way patients are moved from one place to another, we can reduce the migration of contagions from one patient to another. It is critical to confine contagious patients to isolated areas far away from the other patients. It is also important to cover hospital spaces with as many anti-microbial surfaces as possible.

Technology

Technology can also play a part in keeping infections in-check. One example would be a technology solution which tracks how many times staff wash their hands. Another great tool is supply-chain technology that tracks and reduces the number of times employees come into a room. When hospital employees need to restock a patient’s room, they may come in contact with pathogens and then spread them throughout the hospital. By using advanced supply-chain technology to keep track of medical supplies, employees don’t need to physically enter a room to take inventory, which in turn reduces cross contamination. One example of this type of technology is LogiTag which uses smart “StockBoxes” and “SmartCabinets” to automatically track and reorder medical supplies.

People

Hospitals need solid processes that are designed to reduce the spread of infections, such as frequent hand washing as well as equipment and room disinfections. In addition, healthcare facilities need accountability to ensure staff is compliant with these policies.

The “Why,” or the intrinsic reason for existence for all healthcare institutions is to restore health to their ill patients. Since Healthcare Acquired Infections do the opposite, they do not align with this key goal for success. To achieve success, it is important to ensure hospital staff are aligned and invested in the larger goal of eliminating HAIs. This is accomplished by educating staff and creating aligned procedures that support everyday activities required to minimize risk. If a policy merely instructs staff to wash their hands without reminding them of the overarching goal of patient recovery, then the leadership is missing the opportunity for employees to understand their role and take ownership of this vision.

Again, no single solution will ever eliminate HAIs, however creating a roadmap towards eradicating them and aligning space, technology and people to accomplish this objective can drastically reduce their threat to patients.  Ready to begin your alignment journey?  Get started now by using our complimentary Radical Alignment Matrix to begin the process.

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