Report: Technology important in reducing hospital acquired infections

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According to a report that was recently released by GE Healthcare IT, technology should play a key role in reducing and controlling the number of hospital acquired infections (HAIs).

Authored by GE Healthcare IT’s chief medical officer Brandon Savage, MD, and vice president of government and industry affairs Mark Segal, the report says that attitudes toward HAIs are changing at both clinical and policy levels. HAIs are no longer being seen as inevitable byproducts of healthcare facilities, but as preventable, identifiable occurrences, according to Healthcare IT News.

Entitled The Cost of Hospital Associated Infections: Measured in Lives, Reputations and Dollars, the whitepaper claims that healthcare providers can implement proven methodologies using healthcare IT solutions to reduce the rates of infection.

Among the strategies that are highlighted in the paper for their effectiveness in reducing the spread of HAIs is the implementation of checklists. Following the adoption of infection prevention checklists, the state of Michigan reduced the number of new infections that were reported in its hospitals by 66 percent in three months. In the long term, Michigan healthcare facilities saved more than 1,500 lives and $175 million in associated costs over an 18-month period.

The paper goes on to say that these results could be further improved by the implementation of sophisticated electronic quality management solutions.

One organization where healthcare IT is making significant contributions towards reducing HAIs is Intermountain Healthcare. Evidence-based protocols that utilize electronic clinical information systems are used in 80 percent of care delivery decisions by physicians at the Utah-based healthcare provider, compared to less than 55 percent of the wider healthcare industry.

Segal told Healthcare IT News that “as the government grapples with controlling healthcare costs, reducing HAIs offers a very real opportunity to reduce operating costs while maximizing reimbursements and avoiding future penalties.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that HAIs cost healthcare providers between $35 and 88 billion in 2009.