Probably no other organizational entity has the human resources complexity of a hospital. Healthcare facilities bring together not just medical professions, but also administration, marketing, financial, and social work professionals. This convergence results in a complex hierarchy which is difficult to nail down, varies by the facility, and can change based on difficult-to-pinpoint scenarios. As a result, a post about the hierarchy of a hospital has to be broad, but we will attempt to lay out the general levels of responsibility by focusing on decision-making areas at private care facilities.
A recent article in Infection Control Today considered a C-suite position for infection prevention, its adoption nationwide, and its potential to improve patient outcomes long-term. In today's post, we'll provide a brief overview of what this new position means to those systems who have adopted it, but also examine how a C-suite position could transform the efficacy of infection prevention and control the way no other position has been able to accomplish through two critical functions: Access and authority.
About a quarter of American hospitals are for-profit, that is, they are operated to generate profit for owners and stakeholders. A subsection of those hospitals, about 3%, have been acquired through private equity (PE) buyouts, whereby a PE firm raises funds to purchase a hospital. These PE transactions, also called "takeovers," are characteristically funded through leveraged debt - the firm takes out a loan secured by the purchased entity (the hospital), adding the burden of that debt to the balance sheet (and monthly expenses) of that facility. As a result, hospitals acquired by PE firms face additional pressures; they are operated not only to generate profit but also must repay large amounts of debt, used to fund the acquisition and now added to their balance sheet. A recent study looked into this subsection of hospitals to see how this added financial pressure impacted patient outcomes. The results? Patients are 25% more likely to be harmed by medical care at a private-equity acquired facility.
As those of us in the northern hemisphere transition from summer to winter, we will also be experiencing another shift in seasons, especially those of us who live and work in the field of infection control and prevention. Along with the end of warmer months is the end of the summer's favorite pathogens: Gram negative bacteria. And looming ahead in the winter? Cooler months' weapon of choice: Viruses like influenza. We'll explore seasonality in infection control and prevention in today's post.
We are right in the middle of the flu season, when more and more tests come back positive for the influenza virus. Next to the common cold, there's probably no more familiar illness than the seasonal flu: If you don't get it, someone you know does. Despite this familiarity, there are some fascinating facts about the flu that most of us do not know. Learning about influenza reveals a global network of researchers whose daily work keeps this virus at bay.
In the traditional Christmas story from the New Testament, three Magi arrived from the East with three gifts for the newborn Jesus: Frankincense, myrrh, and gold. These were precious, rare substances in the ancient world. While revered for their ceremonial uses, the resins frankincense and myrrh were also one of the first biocidal substances used in ancient times. In today's post, we'll look at how nature has provided us with many anti-pathogenic gifts that science is only now beginning to understand.
Over the past years, and with an uptick since COVID, the acronym "ESG" has been popping up in discussions related to investing, corporate values, and public accountability. Is a focus on "Environment, Social, and Governance" a new idea? How has the increased scrutiny affected the healthcare industry? And most specifically, how does it apply to the field of infection control and prevention?
Ever since the COVID pandemic, hospitals have become more adept at thinking outside the box, or rather, outside the patient room. For some hospitals, the pandemic meant converting waiting rooms into treatment rooms, while for others, it meant finding ways to access shared spaces without sharing germs. This experience, plus the added financial pressures faced by healthcare, is accelerating a trend for more cross-functional, multipurpose rooms in healthcare facilities. How will this trend intersect with infection control protocols? Let's try to foresee some potential benefits and risks.
In the sci-fi classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, an omnipresent computer named HAL monitors all activity aboard a spacecraft on a critical mission. The single-mindedness of this artificial intelligence makes HAL helpful and life-saving, but misses the mark on some decisions that require a more human touch. While our year 2023 has not yet brought us interstellar craft equipped with AI, we are living in a time when technology is supporting almost every field, including healthcare. This post will explore how technology is helping us with hand-hygiene compliance, and how, like HAL, there are some clear advantages as well as some disadvantages. (Thankfully, no hand hygiene technology is able to eject non-compliers out the airlock. Yet.)
After you make the case for the healthcare innovation in terms of patient and facility benefits, anticipating possible risks, and demonstrating efficacy, the final step is to put all that data into financial terms. To calculate return on investment, you will need to determine, to the best degree possible, the costs of implementation, the potential costs of not implementing, and make connections to the facility and/or system plan for the future. In today's post, we will guide you to resources to help you accomplish these tasks.