Access to clean water, soap, and basic cleaning products may seem like a given in our nation, leading many of us to overlook the impact poverty can have on hygiene. In the United States alone, the statistics are staggering: 33% of low-income households report bathing without soap when they can't afford it, 32% report reusing diapers, and 74% skip doing laundry or dishes to save on supplies. It can seem that hygiene products are not as great a priority as nutrition, shelter, or clothing, but hygiene has a direct impact on health, especially for those struggling with a chronic condition or patients receiving "hospital at home" care. In this blog post, we will explore this concept of "hygiene poverty," its consequences, and the urgent need for collective action.
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.
Almost every country has a government agency responsible for the health and safety of its citizens and its environment. Where those two departments overlap is often where pesticides and germicides are regulated. At this intersection are those chemicals that, if released into the environment, could cause damage, but which, within healthcare facilities, are required in order to kill dangerous pathogens. In today's post, we'll explore two such departments in neighboring nations, the United States and Canada.
How do you put an economic value on a human life? Why would you ever want to? As difficult as this quantification may be, it is a necessary practice in healthcare when evaluating the efficacy of an intervention, the appropriation of resources, as well as the framing of options for both the individual and a population. Two measures attempt to accomplish this valuation: Quality-Adjusted Life Years (QALYs) and Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs). In the next series of posts, we will explore both these measures, and ultimately discuss how they are used in the field of infection control and prevention.
Large-scale healthcare projects, from new projects to renovations, face a challenging future. After the tedious process of securing permits and getting approved plans and even issuing press releases, many of these ambitious projects stall due to financial pressures. Increasingly, healthcare systems may hit the pause button as they take a closer look at cost-benefits, with emphases on expanding market share and reducing cost of care. In today's post, we will look at how a healthcare project can help achieve both goals by focusing on proven infection prevention infrastructure.
In today's healthcare marketplace, it is growing commonplace to consider patients as customers - and the shoe fits, so to speak. Patients do have choices when it comes to medical care, and now have plenty of ratings and data points to consider when selecting a physician, an outpatient center, a hospital or a long-term care facility. One of those data points is patient experience, which encompasses the many interactions with medical staff, facilities, and representatives. In today's post, we will consider the measurable aspects of the patient experience, including infection control and prevention.
One of the most tracked and reported metrics in today's healthcare facilities is infection rates. Anyone working in a hospital is aware of the importance of keeping these rates as low as possible, as they impact not only patient outcomes, but reimbursement rates and facility reputation as well. It may be an assumption by the general public that these rates are an objective metric with little grey area. However, a recent study investigated what infection prevention experts think about these metrics, and the results may surprise you!
Last week we provided a big-picture overview of the healthcare supply chain, from supplier to patient. This week, we will dig deeper into this process and try to identify places along the supply chain where decisions can impact infection control and prevention. While all hospitals must meet EPA- and FDA-mandated standards for cleanliness and device protocols, there is room for individual choices in how each facility will prepare and respond to pathogens. So where along supply chain are decisions made that influence infection control?
In our last post, we explored how adopting a new product can result in some heavy lifting. Not only does product adoption require financial investment, it requires significant investment of time and resources even before the decision is made. Even after the new product is in place, the heavy lifting can continue, especially if the intended users are resistant to change. In today's post, we'll look at the obstacles to adopting new products, even if they are proven to improve patient outcomes or save money. Even if they are considered standard of care.
The release of any new phone model reveals much about where people fall on the product adoption curve. There are the camp-outside-the-store-since-midnight enthusiasts all the way to the I-like-my-flip-phone skeptics. All of us fall along the curve somewhere and we may fall into different segments of the curve ourselves, depending on the product. When it comes to the adoption of medical innovations, consumers fall into the same basic categories. This can lead to complex negotiations when one person at a facility is an enthusiast while another important decision-maker is a skeptic. What can we do to stay ahead of the curve - the most important place to be when new research and innovations can be life saving - and find a way to keep everyone satisfied?