Tom Bergin Marketing Director for SCA’s Away from Home Professional Hygiene

As hospitals and healthcare facilities across North America observe National Infection Control Week, it’s an opportune time to identify and explore modern means to improve facility-wide hygiene. In fact, the need to raise the bar for patient safety has been reinforced by the Centers of Medicate & Medicaid Services’ recent ruling of modern policies designed to enhance the safety of residents and facilities that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. 

Specifically, the policies seek to reduce unnecessary hospital readmissions and infections by improving the quality of care and strengthening safety measures, including mandatory updates to hospital-wide infection prevention and control programs.

In honor of this week, and in response to CMS’ need for streamlined, updated hygiene practices and programs, SCA conducted a Global Hygiene Matters Survey to further garner insights around the consumer view of healthcare hygiene processes. 

Of interest to all healthcare professionals, the Hygiene Matters Survey identified current gaps in behavior and perceptions of hand hygiene, particularly with regard to healthcare facilities.

Despite the majority of healthcare professionals using hand washing as the most effective way to mitigate the spread of communicable disease and infection, fear remains a serious concern for patients – with hospitals perceived as the second riskiest environment for infection. 

A recent study has shown hand hygiene improvement can impact the reduction of infection by up to 50% in healthcare facilities. In addition, the survey exposed the perceived need for considerable improvement in hygiene compliance. While 84% of respondents say they wash their hands enough, 76% believe others don’t wash their hands as often as they should.

To support CMS requirements, and combat current perceptions of healthcare hygiene, healthcare providers can take effective measures to reduce and monitor the incidents of hospital-acquired infections.

First and foremost the strategic positioning of dispensers can maximize compliance. However simplistic, the proper placement of dispensers – from paper towel to sanitizer – can help healthcare institutes increase dispenser use by more than 50%. Resources like SCA’s Inspiration Visuals can assist providers in determining dispenser locations and quantities required across hospital entrance, semi-private and private rooms, and the nurse station.

To assist with communicating new CMS requirements, and to reinforce the importance of hand hygiene, providers must create ongoing, eye-catching collateral. Tork Healthy Hands website has been designed to assist facilities in developing customizable content that keeps hand hygiene top of mind for staff, patients and visitors. 

Results from the survey also revealed that technology, like modernized healthcare equipment, can have a significant impact on making our lives healthier. In alignment with this sentiment, providers should seek equipment that assists with monitoring a facility’s quality and safety practices. Tork EasyCube™, for example, gathers and analyzes real-time dispenser data to monitor inventory, improve long-term planning and ensure dispensers are ready.

As National Infection Control Week continues, it creates an opportunity for healthcare providers to identify next steps to ensure compliance with the recent CMS ruling. With hospital-acquired infections affecting one in 25 patients, major changes are needed to improve the care and safety of the nearly 1.5 million residents that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

Tom Bergin is the marketing director for SCA’s Away from Home Professional Hygiene business in North America.