Swipe Right For Your Health: Reducing Hospital Related Infections With Wearable Tech

Medicine isn’t perfect, and everyone understands that it’s possible for a condition to worsen somewhat over the course of treatment. But imagine instead that you went to the hospital and came down with an unrelated illness that was much more dangerous than the one you already had! Sadly, healthcare associated infections (HAI’s) are commonplace in hospitals and other treatment facilities around the world. In fact, the Center For Disease Control (CDC) reports that nearly one in twenty five patients in the US are affected by HAI’s, which collectively resulted in over 205 deaths a day in 2011.

Of the 722,000 patients who were reported to have HAI’s in 2011, 75,000 of them died from the infection or the complications it introduced in their treatment. Pneumonia, gastrointestinal illness, UTI’s, bloodstream infections, and surgical site infections appear to be the leading culprits when it comes to HAI’s. But there’s a bigger concern here: why are people getting sick in the very place designated for improving their health?

The simple answer is that hospitals consolidate these dangerous bugs in one building, a building filled with people whose immune systems are already compromised from their respective illnesses. But there’s more to it then that. The causes for these pesky infections range from the over prescription of antibiotics to complications from surgery.

One paper found that significant spikes in fatal medication errors correlate with the time of year when medical residencies typically begin (July). Another report, conducted by HealthGrades, found that “a typical patient has a 73% lower risk of dying in a 5‐star rated hospital compared to a 1‐star rated hospital.” While this report was not specific to HAI’s, it nonetheless reveals the dire consequences that can result from negligent or inexperienced doctors, nurses, technicians, and even office administrators.

Hospitals have a number of procedures already in place to prevent the spread of infections among patients and staff. In the case of the most contagious diseases, such as measles or Ebola, hospitals will quarantine the patients and only allow workers to approach them while while wearing protective masks and gloves. But even these extreme measures don’t always work, as evinced by the measles outbreak in a Manhattan hospital last February. If we can’t achieve full compliance with these careful measures, how can we expect to prevent more commonplace infections?

SwipeSense is a young startup that aims to address this exact problem by boosting hand sanitation compliance with wearable tech. Rather than relying on wall-mounted gel dispensers, doctors and nurses wear a small, touchless device on their waists. SwipeSense not only provides convenient hand sanitation, it also records data to measure compliance and reminds staff to sanitize their hands before entering or leaving a patient’s room. SwipeSense has been shown to improve hand hygiene compliance by an average of 64% at some of the nation’s top-rated hospitals.

Most people don’t think about the cost associated with disease, but such figures are constantly at the forefront of hospital administrators’ minds. Every HAI could set a healthcare facility back as much as $15k, while SwipeSense only costs $99/year per practitioner. The numbers don’t lie: this tech gadget is a smart investment both medically and financially. Of course, given its still nascent presence in medical facilities, the jury’s still out on whether or not it will successfully reduce the rate of infections around the world.

Even so, there are two reasons to be optimistic: for one thing, the use of SwipeSense in poorer or lower-rated hospitals will probably have a much more dramatic effect than it has at Northwestern Memorial or Rush Medical Center. What’s more, by eliminating (or nearly eliminating) hand hygiene compliance as a potential cause of HAI’s, researchers can take a significant step forward in pinpointing the exact causes of these widespread infections and seeking more targeted prevention methods.

Sources:
CRAIN’s Chicago Business
New York Times
Mobi Health News
HealthGrades 2011 Report
Mercola
Center for Disease Control

About the Author:
Iris Stone is a freelance writer, editor, and business owner who has written on a range of topics. She has experience covering content on medicine, healthcare, and career training, as well as education. Iris is also interested in science and mathematics and is currently studying to be a physicist. Check out her Google+ Profile.

Pay Versus Pain: How the Affordable Care Act Affects Hospital Funding

After many years of controversy and compromises, the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—also known as “ObamaCare”—is now in full swing, and people are starting to see how the policy changes associated with the bill are affecting both patients and healthcare providers. The media has given plenty of attention to the political and financial sides of the ACA, but many have overlooked some of the less obvious impacts. For example, one of the biggest concerns for healthcare administrators today is not just the amount of funding they receive, but also the ways they must adapt to new measures of quality and performance.

On the surface, linking hospital funding to some evaluation of quality is a no-brainer. There are already groups, including the Joint Commission and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which use quantitative metrics to assess compliance with national safety and quality guidelines. But now, instead of mere compliance and ratings, the ACA has begun to associate funding with performance, rewarding “good” hospitals and punishing less successful ones. This feature extends to the provider level; doctors whose patients get better receive better pay.

Misgivings about this policy chiefly concern implementation: what sorts of metrics does the ACA use to evaluate doctors? Does this system actually succeed in improving national health? Is this manner of assessment sustainable? Currently, officials evaluate healthcare facilities and practitioners according to a combination of clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction surveys.

Unfortunately, these measures have already proven problematic. First of all, the implementation of the ACA has launched an influx of formerly uninsured patients into the medical system – much as the bill intended. But many of these patients are receiving care for the first time in years. With so many new, sick patients, it has been difficult for doctors to prove that they are actually improving “clinical outcomes.” This problem is especially prevalent in the poorer areas that need funding the most.

Secondly, relying on “patient satisfaction” as a measure of quality care may encourage hospitals to focus on pleasing patients rather than healing them. In addition, factors like patient compliance and satisfaction are largely outside of doctors’ control; as the saying goes, you can bring a horse to water, but you can’t make him swallow the pill. Yet these factors now play a deciding role in whether a single doctor, nurse, or an entire hospital gets paid at the end of the day.

In order for this new system to work, it will require a fundamental change in the doctor-patient relationship. And maybe that’s a good thing. On the one hand, it may encourage doctors to actually listen to their patients and give them a thorough evaluation, rather than rushing through a 15-minute appointment in an attempt to see as many people as possible. At the same time, it may also encourage healthcare practitioners to be more selective in whom they see. Many doctors have already begun “firing” patients who refuse to vaccinate their children. If a doctor’s pay were strictly linked to the quality of their patients’ health, we might also see them threaten to drop patients who refuse to address other medical issues, from smoking to obesity to addiction. Of course, we can’t be sure that such negative consequences would actually motivate Americans to improve their health in the long term, but it might be worth it to try something new.

Officials have projected that the ACA will begin paying for itself by 2021. What many don’t realize is that this outcome is dependent on much more than flat insurance costs and service charges. Nuanced issues concerning provider pay, hospital funding, and patient motivation could ultimately make the difference in whether this bill sinks in a pool of debt and criticism or floats on a cloud of savings and health.

Sources:
USA Today: ObamaCare Takes Root in Appalachia
USA Today: Hospitals Face Whole New World Under New Healthcare Law
The Heritage Foundation
The Atlantic: The Problem with Satisfied Patients
AL.com: Some Doctors Firing Patients

About the Author:
Iris Stone is a freelance writer, editor, and business owner who has written on a range of topics. She has experience covering content on medicine, healthcare, and career training, as well as education. Iris is also interested in science and mathematics and is currently studying to be a physicist. Check out her Google+ Profile.

What is it like to be a hospital CEO?

A hospital CEO performs a wide variety of duties to ensure the hospital is running efficiently and profitably. They are responsible for maintaining patient care and improving the health status of the community. The CEO is also responsible for providing cost-effective health care and maintaining financial stability.

The CEO is responsible for the direction in which the hospital is going. They need to help with marketing of their facilities and educating the community on what the hospital has to offer. The Board of Directors will help come up with ideas to create growth in the organization.

Another important job for the CEO is to provide a positive work environment. A lot of turnover can affect the quality of services offered within the hospital. A CEO needs to help come up with ideas and incentives to keep the hospital an attractive place to work.

What skills and education do you need to become a hospital CEO?

If you are interested in becoming a CEO, explore degrees in Business, Finance, or Healthcare Management. It is also important to find a hospital CEO to job shadow to find out if you have the skills and leadership abilities to perform this position.

A CEO should have skills in customer service, marketing, finance, leadership, and recruitment. They need to be a visionary. A CEO needs to be able to look into the future and decide which strategies will work to grow the business.

This website offers a wealth of information on what skills and attributes are needed to become a hospital CEO.

What kind of experience does a hospital CEO need?

After college graduation, most hospital CEOs start off in a management position within a healthcare facility. This will help them to gain experience in the healthcare field. Try to get involved in volunteer teams or groups within the healthcare facility. Volunteering will give you a broader look at what different areas there are within a hospital. Spend time getting to know the executive team within the hospital. Find out what different tasks they perform, to have a deeper understanding of how the hospital is ran. Also, get to know the staff and ask what improvements are needed within the organization. This will give you more insight on strategy when you become a hospital CEO.

In closing, a hospital CEO is basically in charge of everything within the hospital. A CEO may hire staff to perform a wide range of duties, but everything falls back on them. Be sure to hire an excellent team of executives to help make the decisions needed to grow the company. A CEO cannot do everything by alone. They need a team of talented executives to come up with ideas and strategies that will carry the company into the future and make the healthcare facility one of the best in the country.