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HAIs shrink as trend for outpatient facilities grows

April 06, 2018
Infection Control
From the April 2018 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

This trend in health care delivery comes at a cost, actually a large reduction in cost over the conventional hospital-based delivery model. The absence of overnight patients with a divergence of clinical conditions means a safer facility from an infection standpoint. Merely reducing the HAI rates among patients means a substantial monetary benefit for the facility. Reduced HAIs also mean higher patient rating scores and beneficial public relations for the clinic setting. According to the CDC, HAIs cost the facility $15,000 each. Hospital systems tell us $30,000 to $45,000 on average per event. Many surgical centers share specialized personnel between regional facilities, which further reduces overhead.

It is easy to argue that outpatient facilities are not seeing the same type of patients that hospitals treat and are bound to have fewer HAI cases. Hospitals see the worst cases and are more susceptible to problems. Medical school hospital campuses often see the very worst cases and have high incident rates. These hospital administrators argue that it is unfair to rate them against smaller hospitals, since the smaller hospitals often refer their worst cases to the medical school hospitals.

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As many hospitals shrink, medical school hospital campuses are growing just as fast as outpatient facilities. For instance, the University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus is growing so fast that if it were a publicly traded company it would be in the top 25 statewide. The medical school and campus contribute over $3 billion to the Colorado economy. A significant part of the growth is research-driven. The ironic part is that some of the research performed on medical school campuses is what has driven the change in health care delivery. Medical school research is producing the new advantages of health care such as less invasive procedures, gene therapy and more effective pharmaceuticals that save patients days in hospital beds.

Thom Wellington
Health care facilities are morphing, due to a combination of factors, and a byproduct is a safer environment for the patient. Smaller, more specialized outpatient buildings positioned closer to the patients with convenient parking, easier wayfinding and faster service are the perfect prescription for an aging population. As the trend to downsize facilities continues, the patient benefit is also a healthier environment and reduced chance for infection. Hospitals participating in the changing treatment environment will also benefit from the reduced cost associated with health care-associated infections.

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