'Putting Power into Healthcare' Program Aims to Cut Infection Rates, Costs

Alabama Power is partnering with 27 hospitals across the state and Birmingham-based Proventix Systems, Inc. to help reduce healthcare-associated infections, improve patient outcomes and help push down health costs.

The "Putting Power into Healthcare" initiative (PPHI) focuses on increasing hand hygiene in hospitals, which studies show can help cut down on healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). These infections can complicate a medical condition, extend the time a patient stays in the hospital, and boost the costs of healthcare and health insurance.

The hospitals involved in the project have installed Proventix's nGage System, which uses active communication units and radio-frequency badges tied to a data and compliance monitoring system. By using the system, hospitals can measure when and how often their badged employees and healthcare professionals wash their hands. Participating hospitals have installed the system in patient rooms and other places where patient care is provided.

"Handwashing seems like such a simple thing, yet it is the most important action a caregiver can take to protect a patient from infection," says Dr. Rich Embrey, chief medical officer of Princeton Baptist Medical Center in Birmingham.  "The nGage System finally provides a way for our caregivers to know that they are providing this lifesaving action for each and every patient they touch."

Embrey and a team at Princeton Baptist conducted a seven-month study to determine whether increased hand-washing prompted by the nGage System could reduce infection rates. The results were significant: during the study period, infection rates dropped 22 percent in the unit where the system was installed. That translated into 159 fewer patient days and estimated health cost savings of more than $133,000.

"Healthcare-associated infections can affect us all, through personal experience, or the experience of a loved one," says Charles McCrary, Alabama Power president and CEO. "It's not just the personal suffering they cause; they also cost businesses millions of dollars every year in avoidable health expenses."

Harvey Nix, Proventix's chief executive officer, board chairman and founder, said Putting Power into Healthcare is the first initiative to use a sophisticated, data-backed network to encourage and track hand-washing across multiple hospitals in a single state. "PPHI is part of a bigger vision that goes beyond merely improving hand hygiene," Nix said. "We have an opportunity to improve the delivery of care through collaboration among healthcare workers and standardized processes. This effort is focused not only on infection prevention, but on quality care driven through effective communications." 

McCrary said the program is a natural extension of Alabama Power's health and wellness programs, which have played a role in keeping employees healthier, reducing sick days and improving productivity. He said the hospitals participating in Putting Power into Healthcare are committed to doing what they can to help improve the health of their patients while lowering healthcare costs.

"No one wants to be sick, and no one wants to go to the hospital," McCrary says. "This program doesn't just help our employees who face a hospital stay. It will benefit everyone who steps inside these healthcare facilities."

The following hospitals are Putting Power into Healthcare:
 Andalusia Regional Hospital
Baptist Medical Center East, Montgomery
Baptist Medical Center South, Montgomery
Brookwood Medical Center, Homewood
Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital, Demopolis
Children's of Alabama, Birmingham
Citizens Baptist Medical Center, Talladega
Cullman Regional Medical Center
DCH Regional Medical Center, Tuscaloosa
Flowers Hospital, Dothan
Infirmary West, Mobile
Jackson Hospital and Clinic, Montgomery
Jacksonville Medical Center
North Mississippi Medical Center Hamilton (Marion Regional)
Medical Center Enterprise
Medical West, an affiliate of UAB Health System
Northwest Medical Center, Winfield
Prattville Baptist Hospital
Princeton Baptist Medical Center, Birmingham
St. Vincent's Birmingham
St. Vincent's East
St. Vincent's Blount
St. Vincent's St. Clair
Shelby Baptist Medical Center
Trinity Medical Center, Birmingham
UAB Hospital, Birmingham
Walker Baptist Medical Center, Jasper

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