The Advisory Board reports that over 15 percent of America’s hospitals may face penalties for patient harm under the latest provision of the Affordable Care Act, which goes into effect October 2014.

Under the new provisions of the Hospital Acquired Condition (HAC) program, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will rate 10 patient injuries including blood stream infections, patient falls, bed sores, urinary tract infections, collapsed lungs, cuts that occur during or after surgery and blood clots. According to a Kaiser Health News analysis of Medicare data, 761 hospitals may be penalized after the first year of the program. Most of the facilities impacted are large, publicly owned, or safety-net hospitals in the Northeast and the West. The HAC program is in addition to two ACA penalty programs already in place for substandard performance – The Hospital Readmission Reduction program and the Hospital Value-based Purchasing program. Through these programs, under-performing hospitals stand to lose up to 5.4 percent of CMS reimbursement.

Hospital Acquired Infections

Hospitals concerned about the impact of ACA penalties, and reducing the risk of patient injuries, understand that improving simple tasks like hand washing can go a long way toward improving patient care.

Stopping the spread of hospital acquired infections should be everyone’s goal, but with hand washing compliance in the U.S. hovering around 30 percent, there is still a big mountain to climb.

One hospital in the United Kingdom is making that climb by leaps and bounds. New Cross Hospital, part of the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, recently increased the number of hand washing “observations” from 600 per month to 1.2 million per month.

That amazing jump was accomplished by switching from random, on-site observations to a Real-Time Locating System (RTLS) – based hand washing monitoring system supplied by TeleTracking Technologies, Inc.

Safe Hands

The 700+-bed acute care facility undertook the initiative as part of a government-sponsored program called Safe Hands, designed to determine whether RTLS could improve the UK’s current hand hygiene compliance rate of 40-60 percent.

Safe Hands is an alternative to self-auditing, manual compliance tracking and monitoring soap/gel purchasing trends. Before Safe Hands, New Cross had been able to achieve only 600 observations per month using the manual process. But the process had other problems. It was random, labor intensive, subjective, and the results were skewed.

After a small pilot program, New Cross officials ordered that all soaps and gels in bay areas, side rooms and on beds in 32 wards be fitted with memory modules to capture hand hygiene at the point of care.  All clinical staff who deal with in-patients have Safe Hands radiofrequency badges that interact with soap and alcohol gel hand hygiene dispensers each time a dispense event occurs. Those interactions tell the RTLS remote monitoring system whether or not a hospital employee decontaminates his or her hands upon entering a patient room. The integration of automated capacity management software and RTLS provides data on hygiene behavior to each ward and department manager for sharing with all staff. The system also matches software timing to workflow in order to give staff maximum credit for hand hygiene events.

The “Real-Time Hospital”

When hospital officials realized TeleTracking’s “real-time” operational management system could optimize virtually all processes supporting daily care delivery, the Trust equipped nearly 4,000 employees, all in-patients and over 1,300 assets with sensor badges.

The RTLS system tracks staff contact with a patient, patient to patient contact, and equipment / patient contact, giving New Cross the ability to trace potential infection spread and contain it. In combination with capacity management software, it has also improved patient flow, removed process lag time, reduced wait times and alerts staff regarding patient safety risks.

Overall efficiency is up.

The New Cross installation is likely the most innovative and expansive application of RTLS-based hospital operational management technology anywhere — and the world’s first “Real-Time Hospital.”

To learn more, download the TeleTracking Hand Hygiene Data Sheet!

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