The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that healthcare-associated infections cost the United States approximately $45 billion and claim the lives of thousands of patients annually. Surveillance of infections have become an enormous challenge for the healthcare systems across the world, and have become increasingly problematic due to antibiotic resistance. So which country is leading the world in this area?
Advances in technology and more stringent enforcement of protocol has proven to be effective in helping clinicians recognize infection symptoms early on, which is extremely important both when treating infected patients and in preventing the spread of disease to subsequent patients. The U.K. government especially has set rigorous standards for tracking and reporting cases of deadly infections such as MRSA and C. diff.
It is estimated that nearly one out of every 20 patients will contract a healthcare-associated infection, with surgical-site infections being one of the most common and costly to treat. Such cases cost on average approximately $35,000 per patient, with other common infections falling closely behind, for example central-line-associated blood stream infections at $29,000 per case, and ventilator-associated pneumonia at $28,000 per case.
ICNet is a U.K. based healthcare software company that is focused on reducing healthcare-associated infections through its state-of-the-art case management and surveillance software for such infections. The National Health Service simultaneously investigated the effectiveness of automated surveillance systems, such as the software developed by ICNet. According to Pat Beyer, ICNet’s president and CEO, the government was focused on making healthcare professionals report infection statistics, while also further investigating and determining the most effective practices in treating and reducing infections. Such software not only gathers and organizes data, but puts it into the hands of individuals who can put the findings to practical use.
Over the past several years, it has become apparent that other countries are beginning to take these infections more seriously. For example, in the US, hospitals have stopped being reimbursed for additional expenses caused by several types of healthcare-associated infections. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act also includes several pieces that relate to the reduction of HAIs. New penalties are currently being assessed for excess rates of readmissions, and by 2014, hospitals with the highest infection rates may be hit with penalties.
New accountable care organizations will also benefit from financial incentives through higher quality and also because the use of software-based infection surveillance systems appear thus far to reduce infection rates.
While countries like in North America are beginning to take the U.K.’s lead, the United Kingdom continues to remain the infection surveillance pioneer of the world.