infection prevention

Skilled Nursing and Infection Prevention: 3 Strategies to Start Using Right Away

When did your facility last experience an infection outbreak? How many patients did it affect? In the United States, 1 in 3 million serious infections occur in long-term care facilities – and of those, 380,000 cases lead to death each year.

It’s a serious issue that can’t be ignored. But unfortunately, not all long-term care professionals know how to best prevent and control infection outbreaks. Regular cleaning and disinfecting, the use of disposable tools and even basic hygiene, such as flushing and hand-washing, is not enough. Caretakers need to do more to best ensure their residents’ well-being.

Here are three infection prevention strategies to start using right away.

1.    Record and monitor all infections

As much as you need to treat an infection, you should also be tracking every symptom and moment of intervention. This information is invaluable for better preventing similar infections in the future. It can help you identify the root cause of one patient’s infection as well as an outbreak.

But, how you record this data plays a critical role in how helpful it is. Paper files won’t get the job done. These are time-consuming to record, find and analyze. The easier, more efficient way to work is to digitally track all infection information with a tool like ABILITY InfectionWATCH™. Going digital gives you much more visibility to the infection trends affecting your organization. It simplifies how you track and treat each patient’s condition and how you prevent outbreaks from affecting all patients.

2.    Strengthen early detection efforts

One of the best ways to keep an infection from spreading is to identify it early on – either when an already existing infection enters your facility, or when a new infection occurs within the facility.


Some ways to improve the early detection of infection include:

  • Identify where an infection was acquired
  • Identify the prevalence of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) and community-associated infections (CAIs)
  • Track cases of antimicrobial resistance
  • Record adverse drug effects
  • Utilize the information of previous outbreaks to identify high-risk trends

Early detection doesn’t just mean being aware of the potential for an infection outbreak in the future. It also means learning from past outbreaks to best minimize this risk.

3.    Prioritize your intervention plans

If one individual contracts an infection on Monday, and another is affected by a different, more serious infection on Tuesday, who do you need to see first on Wednesday?

Infections don’t happen exclusively. Depending on the size of your facility, it may not be that unusual to manage more than one outbreak – and many affected individuals – at a time. If you find yourself administering multiple intervention plans, you need to know how to prioritize them.

This way, there’s no question as to which patients need certain treatments and to what extent their infections should be tracked and monitored. To best prioritize your intervention plans, refer to the records you keep as symptoms arise and infections are identified. Then, continue to use these records to further enhance your infection prevention and control strategies long-term.

patient data

Continuing the Care Cycle: 3 Things You Can Learn from Tracking Patient Data

Patient care is an ongoing effort. Its success relies heavily on regular caretaker interventions, and it’s partially dependent on how invested a patient is in their well-being. Patient data also plays a role in the coordination and effectiveness of care.

When skilled nursing professionals are able to easily understand the recurring trends of their patients’ health, they can better focus their efforts. Over time, care efforts can shift from a reactive process of caring for the symptoms of serious conditions to a proactive approach that can prevent certain symptoms from affecting patients.

This can’t happen if patient data is sitting in silos. The data must be collected, compiled and analyzed for providers to utilize its full potential.

Wondering what you could accomplish with predictive analytics and insights?

Here are three things you can learn from tracking patient data.

1. Your biggest opportunities to improve care quality

Most providers assume they don’t need to track patient data because they already have a thorough understanding of each patient’s condition. This misconception causes them to miss out on the opportunity to greatly enhance the care quality levels of their entire organization.

By compiling the patient data of multiple people with similar conditions and treatments, providers can better understand how well they’re performing across the board. They can confirm which efforts work best and identify where their team has the most opportunities to improve.

Some providers may discover that assessment errors or lack of patient engagement have negatively affected treatment results. Others may be surprised to find that they’re performing below – or perhaps above – their state’s average star ratings. These are valuable pieces of information available via ABILITY CAREWATCH®, and they’re just scratching the surface of what utilizing comprehensive patient data can accomplish.

2. Why readmissions are occurring

Missed opportunities during treatment can lead to more serious conditions for patients and costly consequences for your organization. If you’ve seen a spike in readmissions, it’s time to take a closer look at what’s causing patients to leave your organization and return to a hospital. Assessing the data of a patient’s treatment from start to finish can help you find the turning point of their condition.

Analyzing patient data for a group of individuals, though, is what allows you to spot workflow trends in your organization that need to be improved. One benefits you on a case-by-case basis, while the other can significantly improve the results you’re able to provide all patients. By utilizing the data of all, you can reduce the risk of readmission for many.

3. How much revenue you’re not capturing

In addition to improving quality of care, patient data can boost financial performance. This occurs when you analyze the claims associated with a patient’s treatment records. If all the claims for a treatment haven’t been submitted, accepted and paid in full, revenue is slipping through the cracks.

There’s also a chance that you have untapped revenue in the form of claims that haven’t yet been created for services you’ve completed. This may happen because your billing staff is prioritizing other claims, or maybe, because they’ve overlooked the opportunity to bill for a service altogether. Another possibility is that the supporting documentation you currently have in place isn’t meeting payers’ requirements.

There are many additional reasons why a claim may not have been submitted or paid in full. But, you can’t leave money sitting on the table or allow conditions to worsen. With the right approach, a little bit of extra time spent analyzing patient data can lead to significantly stronger financial performance and more effective patient care efforts.

Healthcare IT

3 Healthcare IT Trends to Watch This Year

It’s easy to see how the relationship between technology and healthcare can benefit providers and patients in theory. But, it’s much harder for healthcare leaders to determine the most effective use of technology. Between the various tools and applications available and ever-changing healthcare IT trends, healthcare leaders are constantly having to adapt.

They must have a deep working knowledge of their organization’s biggest challenges and the technical understanding to recognize the best solution. They need to stay ahead of industry trends and local competitors – and part of that means being the first to adopt new technologies and processes. Sometimes, it also means catching up to where the market currently is.

Whether you’re getting ahead or gaining ground in your market, here are three healthcare IT trends you can’t ignore.

1. Electronic Health Record (EHR) optimization

Healthcare professionals across many disciplines anticipated that EHRs would significantly improve their daily workflows, financial performance and more. While there have been some good results of using EHRs, 40% of providers have seen more challenges than benefits.

Key challenges to note are:

  • Data silos
  • Increased weekly hours worked
  • Lowered professional satisfaction
  • Difficulty sharing information across teams/organizations
  • Lack of financial integration

Now is the time to address these issues. You may start to compile siloed data or invest more in training the staff who regularly work with EHRs. Or, you can transform their workflow to be faster and more accurate.

The concept of storing patient data and sharing this data across teams isn’t exclusive to EHRs. It can be done with various advanced healthcare applications created to simplify eligibility verification, claims management and/or generate predictive analytics. Instead of settling for EHRs as they are, try finding better ways to operate with the help of advanced applications.

2. Cloud migration

As you’re investing more and more into healthcare IT, consider the support you’ll need. No form of technology is perfect. Even the most advanced tools will have glitches, and they’ll need updates and regular monitoring to run smoothly. This can either be the responsibility of an internal tech support team, or it can be taken care of for you off-site.

When you invest in cloud storage, you also invest in a highly-experienced team of IT professionals who know how to best protect and manage your data. This gives you the functionality you need without the expense of maintaining technology on your own. You can enjoy a simple, stress-free cloud interface without worrying about what’s happening on the backend.

3. Manual task automation

This is arguably the most important of all healthcare IT trends on the list. Manual tasks are slow, they increase the risk of making mistakes and they often hinder staff engagement and patient satisfaction. It’s time to support your staff’s efforts by automating some of their tasks.

You may choose to automate anything from eligibility verification to infection monitoring or staff scheduling. There are various ways to turn a manual process into a simple, efficient workflow – all you have to do is identify the biggest areas of opportunity within your organization. The sooner you do this, the more you’ll be able to truly tap into the talent on your team. When staff members spend less time on manual tasks, they create better results as they work together and interact with patients.

Healthcare IT trends will continue to come and go. What works today may not necessarily be the best way of doing things tomorrow, but you need to make sure you’re operating as efficiently as possible. If you’re not caught up with the trends on this list, get to work right away. If you have adjusted to these shifts, don’t settle. Keep looking for ways to further enhance your organization’s performance.

predictive analytics and insights

How Predictive Analytics and Insights Can Improve Market Share

The post-acute care market is becoming more competitive every day. Hospitals’ selectiveness in referral networks is increasing as multiple new providers enter the market. This means your organization needs a stronger competitive strategy in order to maintain market share and continue to grow.

Luckily, predictive analytics and insights can help you easily identify the opportunities in your market. They can position you to gain more referrals whether you’re a new organization or you’ve been a post-acute care provider for many years.

Here are three ways you can leverage analytics to benefit your organization.

1. Closely monitor patient movement

What conditions does your organization specialize in? Which hospital do most of your patients come from? The answers to these questions can establish the foundation for your new and improved referral strategy.

The data available within ABILITY INSIGHT™ Referral Mapper can help focus your strategy on the most viable opportunities. By breaking down patient movement data into DRG-specific groups, you can better understand which referral partnerships would be the most beneficial. You can also track patient movement from a hospital to a competing organization, which may help you identify what your current competitive strategy is missing.

This information is invaluable. It has the potential to make your referral strategy go from a hit and miss to a much more direct, successful approach.

2. Present a stronger case to potential partners

Predictive data and analytics can make the difference between establishing a new referral partnership or losing this opportunity to a competing organization.

When you combine market trends with quantified metrics that reflect your expertise, it’s easier to express why a referral partnership would be mutually beneficial. The data lets you speak to the treatment results you create and how they match up to competitors’ performance in terms of occupancy targets, census ratings and more. And with the shift from a fee-for-service mindset to one of value-based care, results are at the top of potential partners’ minds.

3. Adjust your efforts with in-depth predictive analytics and insights

Being the first to know about new referral trends in your market makes you the first to act. It gives you the chance to reach out to potential partners before other organizations do. This ensures you maintain your competitive advantage – especially if you frequently generate and analyze reports to benchmark your performance.

Running a successful operation includes providing quality patient care and making smart business decisions. Using data to identify referral sources that align with your facility’s strengths is key to the continued growth and success of your business. Discover first-hand how predictive analytics and insights can transform the way you target potential referral partners and serve your audience.

Tips on Introducing Value-Based Quality Care to the Day-to-Day Operations of Your Organization

As healthcare continues to embrace value-based care, it’s increasingly important for organization leaders to be on-trend.

Those who can quickly implement this way of thinking and operating will see an increase in patient engagement as a result of higher quality care. Those who struggle to embrace value-based care will fall behind as consumers turn to other, more attentive providers who can offer better results.

Here are three tips to help your organization succeed in its transition to providing value-based care as opposed to fee-for-service treatment.

1. Streamline front-end operations and payment processes

One of the biggest areas for opportunity with a value-based care model is front-of-house operations. Patients don’t like having to wait for their provider if they show up on time for their appointment. When being admitted into a hospital or skilled nursing facility, it’s not ideal to fill out piles of paperwork, either.

This means you must streamline your front-end operations, no matter the kind of organization you run. Make it easier for patients to provide their eligibility information, and help your staff verify eligibility by investing in the right software.

Advanced verification and claims management tools like ABILITY COMPLETE® can significantly speed up the entire billing process. They’ll provide your team with all the information they need to share with patients. To embrace value-based care even more, ask your team to clearly explain patient eligibility.

Patients who have a better understanding of their coverage and payment responsibilities will show higher levels of engagement. They’re also more likely to pay what they owe on time, especially if you have credit card processing capabilities on site. Other payment processes patients respond well to are online bill pay and automated payments.

2. Focus on comprehensive care and wellness

In addition to front-of-house improvements, you also need to change how you deliver patient care. A diagnosis and prescription won’t cut it anymore. Patients want a much deeper understanding of their health. They want a comprehensive approach to treatment – something that teaches them healthy behaviors they can continue after their treatment is over.

The desire for these long-term solutions is the result of the challenges today’s healthcare consumers face. It’s much harder for them to access care, and the cost of care is a big concern for patients as well. In fact, a recent study states 40% of Americans skipped a recommended medical test or treatment in the last 12 months due to cost.

Additionally, Americans fear the cost of treatment more than the potential illness. When they do seek care, they’re looking for the best, most well-rounded and effective treatment they can find in order to prevent future healthcare costs.

3. Boost revenue with CMS value-based initiatives

If patients avoid healthcare and only engage in comprehensive treatment, what does that mean for providers? CMS is aware that providers may be concerned about losing revenue, so they’re rolling out value-based initiatives to ensure both providers and patients benefit from this transition.

If providers can prove that they’re creating comprehensive health plans and focusing on the long-term well-being of their patients, they’ll receive payment. The qualifications and terms of each CMS plan is unique, but the opportunity is there (or on its way) for providers to increase the level of patient care they provide without hurting their revenue.

The shift toward offering higher-quality care in a more accessible manner has already begun. If your organization has yet to make the necessary adjustments to embrace value-based care, now is the time.

Why We Need Data: Understanding How Healthcare IT Improves the Patient, Provider and Payer Experience

Manual processes increase the risk that a healthcare organization wastes time, makes mistakes and misses out on potential earnings. They can hinder the patient experience and put a strain on relationships with payers.

These are just a few reasons why some healthcare leaders invest in the support of technology. However, of those who use advanced systems and applications, not all are taking advantage of the predictive analytics and insights available.

The key purpose of automated work is to produce faster, better results. This occurs when advanced functions are introduced to an organization’s workflows, but it doesn’t stop there. By learning from the specific metrics and performance reports available in advanced applications, providers can further enhance the treatment experience for themselves, their patients and even for payers.

Here’s a closer look at what happens when healthcare leaders make their workflows data-driven.

Patient satisfaction increases

Delivering a high level of patient satisfaction requires more than medical care. The patient experience begins from the moment an individual schedules their appointment or is admitted. It continues as they interact with admissions, caretakers and billers throughout treatment.

Patient satisfaction may increase or decrease during this time for a variety of reasons. Analyzing data from previous patient interactions positions providers to produce higher levels of satisfaction.

If you were to have your team track care quality levels, infection outbreaks and slips and falls, you’d have a better understanding of the opportunities to increase patient satisfaction – as well as safety and treatment success. You could start working proactively to reduce the likelihood of negative experiences and focus your efforts on going above and beyond to exceed expectations.

Providers’ operational efficiency skyrockets

The use of advanced analytics helps you do more for patients as well as your staff. Imagine if your billers could create and send claims in half the time it takes them now. Or if you could better engage and communicate with your entire team.

With the right tools, you can access the data necessary to improve these things, too. Detailed revenue cycle performance reports can identify the most common mistakes your billers make.

Additionally, data on staff attendance can help you cut overtime costs and avoid burnout. Your scheduling program may even have credential tracking capabilities to help your entire staff stay up to date with required education.

Payers enjoy higher quality scores and better member retention

As patients become more engaged in their treatments and providers deliver higher-quality care, payers’ performance improves. Their quality scores go up thanks to the providers who deliver satisfactory data-driven results. Over time, this results in better member retention for payers and patient retention for providers.

Technology and healthcare are continuously becoming more intertwined. They will continue to enhance the patient experience throughout treatment, but only as providers and payers embrace the advanced tools and analytics available to them. This trend goes hand in hand with the rising importance of value-based care.

What is your organization doing to stay ahead of the curve?

revenue cycle management strategy

Why More Utilization of Data Can Lead to Fewer Denied Claims

Denied claims negatively impact your financial performance, put more stress on your billers and hinder the patient experience. However, most denied claims can be prevented!

There’s no reason to let lost earnings continue to slip through the cracks, or to keep settling for delayed payments. With the right tools, you can immediately start improving your revenue cycle management process.

Not sure what your RCM process is missing? Keep reading to discover how using advanced analytics can increase your claims acceptance rates.

Monitor at-risk revenue

Revenue is at-risk of being lost when you have claims that are approaching the 12-month filing limit and when new claims have inaccurate or incomplete patient/payer information.

It’s hard to catch these things when working manually, but an advanced reporting tool can notify you of all the errors you need to fix. It generates the information you need to better prioritize payer responses and provides the visibility to monitor all at-risk revenue. This results in a major workflow shift from constantly playing catch up and fixing errors, to preventing mistakes in the first place, causing fewer denied claims.

Better understand workflow trends and needs

It’s necessary to monitor and work on previously denied claims in the same way it is to submit new claims. More importantly, there’s valuable data to gather from denied claims.

Pull performance reports on all your denials. The data provided should shed light on recurring billing errors and opportunities to better capture revenue. It will help you make sense of why claims aren’t getting accepted and identify workflow issues that need immediate attention. These insights have the potential to improve your clean claims rate, shorten A/R days and boost your bottom line.

Streamline and simplify performance reports

Performance reports are highly beneficial if used properly. Your team needs to focus their time on taking advantage of the key insights within reports, rather than gathering data and creating reports. They need an advanced reporting tool like ABILITY® EASE All-Payer.

When you simplify the creation of reports, you can dig deeper into what the data is telling you. This allows you to quickly start improving your denial rates, rather than wasting time on report generation.

If you’re constantly catching mistakes after a claim has already been denied – or you’re curious why you’ve lost a certain amount of revenue – start reading between the lines. Utilize the data available to you. Apply it to your workflow, share the insights with your team and strive to keep learning. Over time, your acceptance rates will reflect these efforts.

eligibility verification

3 Ways to Make Your Eligibility Verification Process More Efficient

Eligibility verification is the first step in the revenue cycle – and arguably, the most important. Without an efficient verification process, it’s hard to communicate with payers and determine payer/patient payment responsibilities. These challenges can increase the number of mistakes made during claims submissions. They may also add time to your average A/R days or lower the revenue you’re able to capture each month.

If you’re familiar with the costs of patient eligibility challenges, try a different verification approach. Here are three ways you can increase eligibility verification efficiency.

1. Take advantage of real-time eligibility verification opportunities

Verifying patient eligibility via individual payer portals or over the phone is not ideal. These processes are extremely time-consuming. They delay patient access to treatment and often cause stress for front-of-house staff.

A real-time verification process, available through a single eligibility portal, is much more efficient. It simplifies communication with payers and provides quick eligibility answers, meaning your team can verify coverage in a matter of seconds, not hours or days.

With the right tool, you can enjoy this fast, highly efficient workflow to communicate with Medicare, Medicaid and private payers.

2. Save time with saved patient data  

Real-time verification is just one of the many workflow benefits that an eligibility portal like ABILITY COMPLETE® can provide. Additional functions may include storage of eligibility transaction history and the ability to resend prior eligibility requests.

Having access to this data offers significant time-saving opportunities. It gives your team all the information they need to quickly verify patient eligibility every single time a patient comes in. This replaces the slow, tedious task of asking patients to fill out forms and having staff manually input their information. It results in increased patient satisfaction and decreases the likelihood of sending claims with inaccurate information.

3. Educate patients and collect payments before treatment

To achieve a high level of efficiency throughout the revenue cycle, engage patients early on. Educate them about their coverage and their payment responsibilities. Break down the costs of treatment for both long-term and one-time services, and collect each payment at the time of service.

Providing patients with an understanding of their payment responsibilities up front helps your business avoid possible loss of payments. It reduces the risk of inadequate benefit challenges after treatment has started, and it increases the likelihood that a patient completes their long-term care plan.

Innovative processes combined with attentive patient care can transform your RCM performance. In terms of eligibility verification alone, the best way to improve efficiency is to focus on working faster while producing more accurate results.

revenue cycle management

How to Reduce A/R Days and Increase Revenue Cycle Management Efficiency

It doesn’t matter how many patients walk through your doors if you’re only receiving a small percentage of payments. You can work hard and provide exceptional care, but as far as your bottom line is concerned, the most important thing to focus on is revenue cycle management efficiency.

What is the average number of A/R days it takes for you to complete a payment cycle? How strong are your claim acceptance rates?

These are just a few of the performance indicators to consider when assessing RCM efficiency. If you’re struggling to receive payments, use the following five tips to bring your A/R days up to speed with the industry average – or even better!

1. Verify eligibility before each visit

It may sound simple enough to verify eligibility before rendering services, yet many billers find themselves jumping through eligibility hurdles after a patient has seen their caretaker.

This may happen because a patient’s coverage has changed from one visit to the next. It could be due to changes in their condition that affect eligibility, or that they didn’t provide all the information necessary for a biller to verify them.

It’s much better to gather all patient information and verify eligibility upfront than to scramble to make a claim post-service. If your current workflow doesn’t stress this, communicate the value of confirming benefits and acquiring appropriate prior authorizations with your front-of-house team immediately.

2. Utilize an automated, rules-based workflow

Think of all the different payers you work with and the many claims you send to them. Consider all the conditions you treat and the unique codes you have to use for each one.

Even your best billers are bound to make mistakes from time to time. They may send a claim to the wrong payer or input the wrong code on a claim to the right payer, resulting in denials and rejections.

The better way for them to work is to utilize an RCM platform with rules-based workflow capability. When you set specific rules, your billers will be notified if they’re about to make a mistake. Your new, advanced system can tell them if information is missing or incorrect. It can advise billers to make necessary corrections before they send out a claim, saving you a significant amount of time in the revenue cycle.

3. Streamline different revenue cycle management processes

It only takes one thing to go wrong for your entire revenue cycle to be affected. And between verifying eligibility, managing claims and processing payments, there are plenty of opportunities for mistakes to occur. Fortunately, you can prevent and correct mistakes by streamlining your RCM processes with a tool like ABILITY EASE® All-Payer.

Stop thinking of eligibility, claims management and payment processing as separate activities. Instead, consolidate these pieces of the revenue cycle into one simple, easy to manage workflow. Invest in one tech-savvy system to help you handle claims from start to finish, instead of having a separate system for eligibility verification, claims and payments.

This will save a significant amount of time, money and stress. It will allow billers to easily move from one step of the revenue cycle to the other. It will lower the risk of mistakes and increase claims acceptance rates.

Before you know it, your average A/R days will be much shorter. Plus, your staff will perform better, become more engaged and have higher overall satisfaction.

4. Diversify patient payment options

With the rise of patient payment responsibility comes a bigger need for providers to diversify their payment options.

Put yourself in the position of a consumer for a moment. Consider how often you swipe a credit/debit card, use a payment application or rely on automated payments to transfer funds. Most people use such tools when paying for everything from a snack at the corner store to their car payment. They expect to have similar payment options when they’re billed for medical services.

This change comes at a low cost when the long-term benefits are factored in. Although it may be a big investment upfront to start offering modern payment options, the positive response from patients will provide the ROI you’re looking for. They are more likely to pay on time and you’ll be able to process payments much easier, too.

5. Resubmit all denied claims

The final way to increase your RCM efficiency is to make sure no claim goes unpaid. The tips mentioned above should significantly reduce the amount of denied claims your team has to resubmit. But, whenever a claim is denied, it needs to be adjusted and sent back to the appropriate payer.

You may prioritize new claims over denied claims. However, every single unpaid dollar adds up – it can contribute to the amount of money you have outstanding, or it can be revenue you collect and utilize.

Luckily, a streamlined workflow can make it much easier to manage denied claims. Combined with a better eligibility verification process, rules-based functions and diversified payment options, your RCM efficiency will be better than ever.

infection prevention

4 Infection Prevention and Control Tips to Use in Your Organization

There’s more to maintaining the health of your patients than treating them for their existing conditions. Providing a high level of quality care also means keeping them safe from additional health risks.

Health risks may include everything from a slip and fall to a flu outbreak to more serious matters like strep throat, UTIs and gastrointestinal infections.

If these or any other infection has recently affected your organization, it’s time to re-assess your infection prevention and control strategy. If no infections have occurred thus far, it’s best to keep building on the infection prevention practices you’re currently using.

The four tips listed below can help you lay the foundation for an infection-fighting strategy or improve the one you already have.

1.    Create a dedicated quality care and infection prevention team

Fighting harmful bacteria is the responsibility of all staff, so it makes sense to put employees from various departments in charge of infection prevention. A dedicated team can help ensure there are no gaps in your plan to prevent outbreaks. The combined knowledge and experience of each person will provide you with all the information you need to:

  • identify high-risk areas where an infection may occur
  • improve antibiotic treatment protocols
  • limit the transmission of antibiotic-resistant bacteria
  • expand infection surveillance capabilities

Additionally, a dedicated team can facilitate stronger communication and collaboration as staff works to keep infections at bay – and to control them in the event of an outbreak.

2.    Close the gaps across all department functions

Beyond your dedicated team, all staff members should be actively working to avoid an outbreak. Every employee needs to understand the critical importance of infection prevention and be committed to their role in it.

This begins with sharing the right information. Educate your whole team – not just those who work directly with patients – about infection control. Make sure food service individuals understand the best practices to use when preparing and distributing meals. Talk to housekeeping about the personal protective equipment they should use while they work. Explain infection prevention and control to your administrative staff, too.

Also remember to correct bad habits, even for seemingly simple prevention efforts like hand-washing and the use of gloves. These are two of the most commonly overlooked aspects of infection control, but they make a big difference.

3.    Streamline infection surveillance

Just as you must close the gaps between each team’s role in infection prevention, you need to also streamline surveillance. This is hard to do with incomplete documentation of outbreaks or a lack of adherence to evidence-based guidelines. However, having all the infection information you need in one place can do wonders for how well you prevent and control outbreaks.

Imagine if you could access infection records at the click of a few buttons instead of spending hours sifting through paper files. Or, if you had the option to track infections on a map or evaluate infection data in terms of category, type and culture organism. You’d have a much deeper understanding of the infections your organization commonly deals with, and you’d be in a better position to prevent future outbreaks.

You don’t need more time in the day or even extra staff to do this. You just need the right tools to help you keep your patients safe.

4.    Act fast and track everything

The faster you can identify an infection, the less risk it will present to your patients and staff. Streamlining surveillance will help you notice an outbreak, but you need to have an action plan in place. This is key to controlling an outbreak. A clearly-communicated, effective action plan can be the difference between a small, manageable outbreak and one that affects many patients.

But, the plan you have in place today doesn’t necessarily have to be the one you use tomorrow. Whenever an outbreak happens, gather all the data you can. Record patient interventions and identify clear categories to make sense of the data. Make graphs to reflect employee performance and create a full overview of how effective all infection control and treatment efforts were.

If you’re not currently dealing with an outbreak, you should be continuing the work to keep infections at bay. If an outbreak recently affected your organization, it’s worth trying a new approach to how you prevent and control the spread of harmful bacteria. Fortunately, the tips above can guide you in improving your organization’s performance when managing infections.