The impact of the pandemic on supply chains and patient safety highlighted the need for more collaboration between environmental services (EVS), infection prevention (IP), and value analysis (VA) teams in healthcare systems and clinical laboratories. Lessons learned have guided healthcare professionals in a new and better direction that ensures increased efficacy and safety outcomes. Across all types of healthcare institutions, no matter which department leads the effort, the higher purpose remains the same – proactive infection prevention.
Economics of HAI Prevention
Though products and services are a big part of the cost equation, healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) can have far greater economic impact on hospitals and healthcare organizations. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), over a million HAIs occur across the U.S. healthcare system every year, leading to the loss of tens of thousands of lives and adding billions of dollars to healthcare costs.
Because HAIs are among the leading threats to patient safety, hospitals, and healthcare provider lab facilities have made infection prevention a top priority. And, because patient outcomes have become an integral part of the VA process, it is critical they work in partnership with the key stakeholders involved in the fight against HAIs—Namely EVS technicians, epidemiologists, Infection control nurses and other IP leaders.
Interdisciplinary Infection Prevention
Keeping healthcare facilities and testing labs clean is an extremely important element of patient safety and the reduction of HAIs. Pathogens spread easily from frequently touched surfaces to hands, and to other people. Determining mitigation methods is a job that should be shared across EVS, VA, and IP teams.
EVS is responsible for the safety and cleanliness of hospitals and medical lab facilities to maintain a healthy environment. Infection Preventionists work to prevent outbreaks from occurring within healthcare facilities. They observe practices, educate healthcare teams, advise hospital leaders and develop policies and procedures to address issues that arise.
Value Analysis uses evidence-based data to make decisions for products that are used across multiple departments, including EVS and IP. The evaluation process not only looks at cost, but patient outcomes as well. To deliver quality care, VA professionals must also assess products based on sound IPC guidelines, as well as consider the realities for EVS implementation.
Thus, a blended analysis by EVS, IP, and VA will provide a more cohesive view of the challenges in disinfecting hospital rooms, labs, and facilities. This will result in a more effective plan for infection prevention solutions.
Aligning Standardization, Safety and Sustainability Goals
In addition to evaluating the cleaning products themselves, teams must also assess the number of chemicals used for each purpose in order to identify areas of duplication and look for opportunities to consolidate. This kind of standardization can yield significant cost savings, as well as simplify processes and raise compliance levels. It also eliminates many of the hazards associated with managing a multitude of cleaning chemicals and disinfectants, which contributes to improving overall facility safety.
In the quest for infection prevention, safety is always the first consideration. That means utilizing products with a higher safety rating, while ensuring less toxicity to patients and staff. It also means choosing environmentally sustainable chemistries that deliver long-range benefits for both healthcare institutions and the planet.
Bilateral Communication for Better Outcomes
Under healthcare reform, hospitals will literally succeed or fail based on the quality and affordability of the care they provide. Bilateral communication between EVS technicians, VA teams, epidemiologists, infection control nurses, clinicians, operations and other leadership allows sharing of data and ideas to improve outcomes and reduce costs. Above all, interdisciplinary partnering assures healthcare organizations will be better prepared for future challenges—Therein lies the ultimate value.
Director of Account Development, Earthsafe Chemical Alternatives
Gabriella Cimarelli is Director of Account Development at EarthSafe Chemical Alternatives, pioneers of the EvaClean Infection Prevention Solution. A Rhode Island native, Gabriella is a former EMT & emergency room volunteer, with a BS in Veterinary Science and a BS in Biology. She since became a first-class sales & service leader in the healthcare field. Gabriella has been instrumental in the growth of national and international business, as well as the implementation of process improvement and cost savings initiatives. In her free time, Gabriella enjoys hiking, skiing, and fostering rescue dogs.