How Data Can Help Prevent the Next Health Crisis
There are many lessons to learn in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. One of the biggest lessons for long-term and post-acute care (LTPAC) providers is the urgent need for unified and easy-to-access data for use in infection identification, control, and prevention.
According to the CDC, one to three million serious infections occur every year in long-term care and assisted living facilities in the U.S., with as many as 380,000 infection-related deaths. These statistics were generated prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and knowing the full effect of COVID-19 will take years.
What we do know is the pandemic exposed deep cracks in the current healthcare system and fixing it will take concrete and structural changes. A vital area of focus should be information-sharing between points of care and within LTPAC facilities, there is currently a black hole that must be filled to better contain the next outbreak of illness. For true infection identification, management, and care coordination, providers need access to timely data and insights.
More efficient control of infections and outbreaks
Of course, data cannot prevent the emergence of the next unforeseen illness, but it can certainly help in early-stage detection, infection control, and implementation of prevention plans.
For example, a centralized intelligence solution that allows care providers to analyze patient data from multiple facilities and communities helps immensely in the effort to identify, manage, and report infections. Additionally, it helps to prevent infections – for both patients and staff – in real-time. Through analyzing patterns and trends in the infection data, facilities are able to identify and contain outbreaks earlier and share this information with their network. As of July 2020, PointClickCare’s Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) solution had managed and tracked 36,000 cases, 25% of which were COVID-19 related.
Siloed healthcare systems, where communication among and between points of care is neither standardized nor coordinated, can result in missing critical patient data. Moving forward, long-term care facilities must implement information sharing practices that enable care providers to access the valuable insights and knowledge that exist within data to not only drive better care for patients, but also increase efficiency and decrease costs.
Data saves lives
Data is our most powerful asset when looking to the future of care and controlling the spread of disease. It not only speeds up decision making, but also ensures that providers have all the information they need to make the best possible care decisions for their patients. However, if it’s not accessible, then it is not actionable. With seamless access to the right data, care staff will be more efficient and able to provide the best senior care experience – which begins with the early awareness and identification of infection before it turns into an outbreak.
August 24, 2021