The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services released a revised draft of the National Action Plan to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections: Roadmap to Elimination last week. The plan posits an increasing role for healthcare IT in the monitoring, prevention, and eventual elimination of HAIs.
Patients get healthcare-associated infections while being treated for medical or surgical conditions and can occur in any care setting, including hospitals, outpatient care in clinics, and long-term care facilities like nursing homes or rehabilitation centers. HAIs are a leading cause of U.S. preventable deaths, and this coupled with a substantial rise in healthcare costs attributable to the infections makes controlling and eliminating HAIs an important goal for the HHS and medical providers.
The revised plan suggests that healthcare IT can aid in the process by utilizing better computer-based detection algorithms and tighter integration between systems, improving data exchanges among facilities so entire episodes of care are reflected and regional prevention efforts have access to data, and providing HAI prevention guidelines and reminders to clinicians via clinical decision support tools in Electronic Health Records (EHR) systems.