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Rethink How you Deploy Infection Preventionists: Reduce Risk with PINC AI™ Remote Surveillance

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Key takeaways:

  • Many infection preventionists (IPs) are nearing retirement age or have left the field due to pandemic burnout, resulting in understaffed infection prevention departments.
  • Certified (CIC) infection preventionists make up a small segment of the available labor market due to the rigorous two-year experience requirement for certification.
  • The burden of reporting healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs) remains a requirement regardless of IP shortages.
  • Infection prevention departments can improve efficiency and outcomes with HAI investigation and documentation from the PINC AI™ Remote Surveillance program.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. has recognized and honored the sacrifices made by healthcare workers. Doctors and nurses working on the frontlines of the pandemic have been fittingly hailed as heroes for risking their lives to help others. However, healthcare is also driven by a much broader community of professionals dedicated to patient care and quality, such as infection preventionists (IPs), who go above and beyond to keep us all safe.

The IP role has been in overdrive since 2020 and involves influencing and guiding healthcare workers and patients with practices to prevent infections. The healthcare industry leaned on IPs more than ever during the pandemic. COVID-19 has shown just how critical IPs are to our communities.

However, many infection prevention departments are understaffed as IPs near retirement age or leave due to pandemic burnout. Changing IP guidelines, personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages, increased workloads and a spike in healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs) are just a some of the issues that IPs encountered at the height of the pandemic.

Supporting Infection Prevention Through Remote Surveillance

Recruiting experienced infection preventionists is a daunting task. According to the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), there are only about 2,000 certified IPs in the U. S. The burden of reporting HAIs does not go away just because the IP role is empty. Premier’s technology and services platform, PINC AI™, is filling the gap and members have found success in supporting their IP staff with the PINC AI™ Remote Surveillance program. While surveillance is intended to be a small amount of an IPs job, most IPs today spend much more of their time on surveillance activities.

PINC AI™ Remote Surveillance is a tailored program designed to aid infection prevention departments with daily infection surveillance and healthcare associated infection (HAI) review, investigation and documentation. Each organization has a unique set of remote surveillance needs. Collaboration between hospital, IP department leadership and the PINC AI™ certified infection preventionists is important to ensure the appropriate level of support is implemented.

Facilities leveraging the PINC AI™ team of board certified, experienced IPs to support their healthcare organization can gain more than just compliance. “We reduced the daily surveillance load for department staff and increased their ability to perform prevention activities,” said Julie McCord, System Director of Infection Prevention at North Mississippi Health Services. “Our IPs were able to act faster to prevent infections with the support of data collected by the PINC AI™ team. The PINC AI™ Clinical Consultant was able to act as a surveillance mentor to novice IPs which allowed us to standardize our surveillance processes and ultimately make our program stronger.”

Healthcare organizations sometimes struggle to find qualified infection prevention staff. There is a minimum two-year eligibility period to qualify for certification. The acute healthcare setting is no longer the only environment where expertise of infection control is necessary. COVID-19 has demonstrated that there’s a need for people who have this knowledge in long-term care, home care and in other types of settings. Healthcare organizations should act now to better safeguard the health and safety of its IPs. This includes tackling systemic issues such as inadequate staffing and lengthy shifts that may cause burnout. Regulatory reporting is still required, even in the face of labor shortages. Ensure consistency of data collection and reporting with the help of a PINC AI™ CIC certified infection prevention team.

For more on this topic:

  • Learn more about PINC AITM clinical surveillance solution and services.

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