As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, the role of infection prevention and control teams has begun to shift. There are several long-standing trends that have slowly started to require the knowledge and assessment of infection teams. It’s essential to be aware of the responsibility’s infection teams are being expected to take on, so we’ve compiled five trends that have been on our radar.
1.Changing design of healthcare facilities to be more patient-centric
It’s become increasingly evident that in-hospital patients want to feel as though they are at home or in a hotel during prolonged hospital visits. As healthcare becomes more of a consumer driven industry, it’s important for facilities to pay attention to patient needs. “It’s less clinical, it’s a calmer environment, and it’s focused primarily to increase that patient satisfaction score, or just their satisfaction period,” says Yves Crehore, RN and Product Manager at RLDatix.
Vendors are starting to manufacture non-clinical materials to create these types of environments, which requires infection control teams to investigate the appropriateness of these products in healthcare settings. Considerations include: How will the material be cleaned? How will it fit into the environment? What are specific risks with the material?
Another important consideration is whether these environmental changes will influence clinician and patient behaviour. Will hand hygiene or proper sterilisation procedures continue to be practised? Infection teams will have to develop new strategies to ensure that these measures are still being upheld.
2.Evolving hospital level care in non-hospital environments
Over the years, Walmart has slowly transitioned from filling prescriptions to opening urgent care clinics, and most recently, primary care clinics. They are one of many commercial and retail outlets that are moving into the healthcare industry.
Organisations following in this path require infection control teams that understand what comes with the territory of treating patients, specifically the spread of pathogens. “There’s an evolution that needs to occur into managing those potential transmission risks and they’re inherent in an intermingling population,” says Yves.
3.Resurgence of old diseases
In the spring and summer of 2017, Minnesota’s health department combated a severe measles outbreak that over 8000 people were exposed to, with 72 cases being in children under 10 years of age. By the end of it all, an estimated $900,000 was spent just to get the outbreak under control.
This outbreak was predominantly due to the anti-vaxxer movement which has resulted in lower vaccine adherence rates and waning population immunity. For other viruses, such as the Zikka virus carried in mosquitoes, climate change is playing a large role in creating the warm temperatures that enables these pathogens to thrive and spread.
Infection control teams are increasingly required to push education to improve the general lack of information and misleading facts about disease prevention.
Resistance to antibiotics is a major patient safety concern for hospitals across the globe. In the United States alone, 2 million people become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria and about 23,000 die each year from these infections.
Fifty percent of antibiotics are not correctly prescribed or administered, which is one of the biggest sources of drug-resistant bacteria. “We’re running out of drugs rapidly and so any antimicrobial stewardship programs are key in trying to help us extend the life of these antibiotics while we look at alternatives,” says Yves.
Alternative measures include novel antibiotics which will be quite costly, or the use of phage therapy. Infection control teams will likely need to be consulted with the progression of this new therapy, specifically to learn about and approve the environments with which phages are grown and how patients are subsequently cared for.
5.Meaningful Data Analytics in Care
The data being collected by infection control teams is no longer just about the number, but the context surrounding that value. “We want to see and require data to be acted upon quickly and get ahead of that potential harm,” says Yves.
New tools that seek to automate these processes, improve trend analysis, and restructure data so that causation and correlation are easily discerned, are being driven by these new demands. “Being able to then select the right drug for the right bug at the right time is easily facilitated by electronic surveillance,” says Yves, “it makes it easier and quicker for the team to respond.” Improving these processes also frees up time for staff to investigate other data, perform their rounds and do floor audits, among other tasks.
RLDatix software is designed to help infection prevention and control teams act quickly, intervene early and better protect staff and patients.