Every health care facility wants to save money. The first place facility management tends to look is where they can cut spending. This includes paper product selection, avoiding unnecessary services or using fewer products. The next step is usually reviewing where they can be more mindful. For example, by reducing waste, controlling product usage and educating team members of their efforts.
But one very important factor in terms of saving money in a health care setting is taking the necessary steps to prevent healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). HAIs are infections that patients get while receiving medical care. With the right precautions, HAIs are preventable.
The number one weapon against ending the chain of infection is hand washing. If we are mindful of hygiene on an individual level, we can protect ourselves and others. But a health care facility can only do so much. You can spend time educating patients, putting up reminders in the restrooms, but you still can't control people's actions.
What you can control is the cleanliness of your facility. That is why environmental services (EVS), cleaning specifically performed in medical environments, is considered the first defense against infection control. We can't control people, but we can control their environment by disinfecting high traffic areas and hot spots.
Still not sold? Lets look at the numbers:
- Approximately one in 31 hospital patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection.
- Around 2 million healthcare-associated infections occur in the U.S. annually.
- The estimated direct medical cost of HAIs ranges from $28 billion to $45 billion in the U.S. annually.
Why Are HAIs So Expensive?
Think about it. In terms of direct costs, patients with HAIs need to stay at the medical facility longer, or in some cases are readmitted. If the infection is a result of negligence, the patient can file a malpractice case that finds the health care facility liable. You also need to consider the indirect impacts. When it comes to business, perception is reality. This has never been more true with the prevalence of the internet. Before you visit any type of business what do you do? Like so many others, you most likely read online reviews. Which sounds better? A hospital with a 4.5 star review or a hospital with a 2 star review?
What Can You Do to Prevent HAIs?
There have been a series of C. auris and measles outbreaks throughout the U.S. and many health care facilities are feeling the impacts. A well planned and managed infection control plan will help to ensure that your team pre-cleans before disinfecting, uses chemicals properly and communicates to ensure that no surface goes unnoticed.
There is still value in educating your patients and staff on proper hygiene, but you need to take it a step further. Ensuring that you have the right cleaning practices in place needs to be a priority. You can spend the resources to hire and train an in-house EVS staff, but it isn't the most cost effective option as it adds to your payroll, insurance and resources. The best option is to hire a professional cleaning service that is already educated on proper medical cleaning against HAIs and understands how to budget for dialysis centers, dental and medical practices, hospitals and out-patient and surgical centers.