4 Ways Technology Supports Infection Prevention Activities

From the earliest point in the pandemic, mass amounts of misinformation caused fear and confusion around protocol for isolation, PPE, modes of transmission, and many other unknowns. As more data became available, Infection Prevention and Control professionals were the experts in analyzing, interpreting, and educating teams about risk and reduction strategies.  But the truth is - Infection Preventionists (IPs) have been responsible for guiding and educating healthcare organizations on preventing harm long before COVID-19.  IP teams have been hard at work for many years to help reduce the 1.7 million hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) that occur each year – 100,000 of which result in patient deaths.

According to Eric Eskioglu, MD, chief medical and scientific officer at Novant Health, and a former aerospace engineer, the concerning number of HAIs is equal to two full planeloads of people crashing every day in America. He cites that just as the airline industry drastically increased and addressed safety protocols in the past, healthcare is now ripe for a similar transformation with the support of data and technology.

Novant Health is putting that philosophy into action and seeing results. During the pandemic, HAIs went up by 30 to 40 percent at hospitals across the country according to CDC data. However, at Novant Health, they saw the opposite results, with their HAIs decreasing by 30 percent. Eskioglu attributes this to the hospital adopting electronic hand hygiene monitoring, and their use of data analytics and AI.

Infection Preventionists at Novant and hospitals across the country echo Eskioglu’s beliefs and are harnessing the power of technology to help their teams make an even greater impact. To uncover more about the challenges and opportunities facing IPs in healthcare, we asked a group of IPs to share their thoughts.  Hear first-hand to learn about their impact - and why they agree it's more important than ever to leverage data and prioritize reducing HAIs. 

Infection Preventionists agree: Technology supports core infection prevention and control activities  

1. Automation through technology frees up IP’s time to focus more on what matters: “Technology positively impacts change within the patient safety and infection prevention field,” says Maggie Ruskowski, Patient Safety Coordinator at Einstein. 

“Instead of spending endless time auditing compliance for activities like hand hygiene, technology can do the auditing and we can spend time focusing on ways to better our outcomes.” - Maggie Ruskowski

2. Data-driven safety insights power more efficient and effective care delivery: “SwipeSense is a prime example of technology that helps IPs,” says Mallory Gilbert, Infection Preventionist at Novant Health. “Being able to use technology to obtain data, assess that data, and devise improved processes to improve on that data really makes a difference for our teams.”

3. IPs recommend technology to their peers: “Technology supports infection preventionists’ efforts by assisting in mining the patient data and creating surveillance reports,” says Angella Brown, Infection Control Officer at Howard University Hospital. “This helps to decrease the daily workload. My advice would be to advocate for electronic applications that can assist with daily Infection prevention surveillance.”

4. Technology boosts overall infection prevention efforts: “Technology supports the enhancement of infection prevention efforts,” says Deanna Hillstrom, MSN, RN, an Infection Preventionist at Novant Health. “It allows for increased surveillance of infections, antimicrobial use, improved documentation to improve patient safety.”

Download our Recovery Roadmap to learn more about the ways safety technology can help your organization prevent, prepare, and respond to the ongoing challenges of infection outbreaks, like COVID-19.  

Download the Roadmap