Alabama Industry, Hospitals Work Together to Reduce Infection, Save Lives Through Handwashing

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On April 3, 2012, 27 Alabama hospitals announced that they would work together to improve clinical and financial healthcare outcomes through the implementation of an automated hand-hygiene monitoring system to reduce healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). After six months, patient lives have been directly impacted with 587 fewer days in the hospital and a cost savings of $661,540.
 
Business, healthcare and technology leaders forged a new path with the Putting Power into HealthcareSM Initiative (PPHI). PPHI is the first statewide effort of its kind to use an automated data collection network that measures hand washing performance across multiple hospitals. Participating hospitals installed the Proventix nGage™ system, an active two-way communication and radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology that helps caregivers monitor and improve hand washing habits through personal feedback and positive reinforcement.

"We encouraged hospital and community leadership who are seeking ways to collaborate on the advancement of healthcare,” says Proventix CEO Harvey Nix. “We have to work together to improve. Hospitals are committed to quality improvement, but when asked to shoulder the burden of improvement alone, it is no longer an issue of desire. It becomes an issue of economics. Reducing HAIs improves the human and economic outcomes for patients, hospitals and healthcare purchasers.”

It is important to note that the 18.93 percent reduction of HAIs reported to date only partially describes the full impact of the initiative. By achieving similar gains for the remainder of PPHI, hospitals will save $1,633,176 in direct healthcare costs, reduce 2,036 patient hospital days and directly impact 246 lives. These 246 family members, friends and neighbors will avoid further illness, extended hospital stay and loss of life because they are protected from HAIs.

Initiative successes show a 40.3 percent increase in hand-hygiene compliance in PPHI hospitals, meaning that caregivers are doing a better job of washing their hands at the times most impactful to patient care. This improvement is coupled with an 82.2 percent increase in total hand cleansings.

The PPHI community initiative model provides an opportunity for more healthcare organizations to implement and use technologies that are typically inaccessible due to budgetary restraints. nGage’s open technology format allows infection prevention teams, quality managers and clinical leadership to share information, initiate successful interventions when needed and accelerate clinical progress.

"When hospitals have technology without leadership or leadership without technology, they can only achieve minimal results. That’s been evident for years in healthcare. I have recognized that by combining leadership with technology, we can begin to see the results we hoped to achieve when we implemented the system,” says Jim Weidner, chief executive officer of PPHI-participating hospital Cullman Regional Medical Center.

Data from Alabama’s PPHI indicate that in the first six months of implementation, hand hygiene improved six times more in PPHI hospitals compared to non-PPHI hospitals. “Initiatives like PPHI appear to have a much quicker impact on the communities that they serve. The next step is to use these results to further dialogue with interested parties and hospitals in other states that desire the same type of innovation and results,” says Nix. “We celebrate the 27 hospitals who took the lead by participating in an initiative that not only helps Alabamians but has become a model that is being considered across the U.S.”

Source: Proventix Systems, Inc.

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