At Tampa General Hospital, we think about the importance of technology in infection prevention (IP), all the time. The health and safety of our patients always come first. I’m overwhelmed with the sheer volume of products and topics available when I really think about it.
The variety of innovation and tech has increased, especially since the arrival of COVID-19. However, the biggest bang for your buck is to consider rehauling your IP department from the inside out. Those within healthcare who didn’t know who we are or what we do certainly do now!
COVID has truly highlighted the importance and significance of infection preventionists. Requests for IP involvement have increased, which is wonderful. It is great to see the variety of departments that are truly interested in partnering with IP and no longer see us as a “clinician with a clipboard.” With these increasing demands including regulatory requirements, how do we move forward with our ultimate mission of preventing healthcare-associated infections, with limited resources?
We are a data-driven department with extensive regulatory reporting, and surveillance of process and outcome measures. What can you do to free up the infection preventionists’ time? The addition of a new team member isn’t always the answer. It is critical to reassess practices and workflows.
Best practices reflect Infection preventionists physically being out on the floors, not trapped in the office at their desk. Being out and about talking to staff is the most beneficial aspect of IP, and truly has the biggest impact on healthcare practices. This day-to-day relationship building is vital. It has opportunities to observe practices and processes. There are educational moments that will be retained compared to watching a virtual educational sessional. During times of crisis, it is these relationships and trusted partners which prove to be invaluable.
Implementing new technological solutions is not always the answer. Perhaps leveraging and improving the access your IPs have to your IT and tech resources that already exist in your facilities is sufficient. Improving efficiency will get us to the same outcome – improved patient safety. So how can technology help us?