Hospitals have worked on their own for years to reduce the number of hospital-acquired infections seen each year, but several institutions that partnered with an insurer and an information technology company have found strength in numbers.
Starting in 2005, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield New Jersey worked with in-network hospitals to provide grants for subscriptions to MedMined data mining surveillance system. The MedMined data, captured from data routinely collected by the hospitals, are then used to identify early warning signs and analyze trends in infections.
Mark Spencer, general manager of MedMind Inc., said the surveillance program not only identifies the early signs of infection, but tracks patients through the hospital to determine the source of any infections.
Since 2005 the number of hospitals in the New Jersey Infection Prevention Partnership Program grew from 10 to 21, and Horizon recently announced the program has helped to prevent more than 14,000 hospital-acquired infections.
According to Horizon, those avoided infections have saved hospitals roughly $51 million in treatment costs in the state. Spencer said MedMined’s return on investment is peer reviewed by the Healthcare Financial Management Association.
In a case study, one program participant, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital–Hamilton, used the MedMined program from October 2005 to March 2010 to reduce infections roughly 20 percent. According to the study, RWJUH Hamilton saved more than 4,000 inpatient days and $1.6 million.
Spencer said hospitals lack the funding and availability of technology on their own to address the growing problem of infections, which is where partnerships step in to provide access, implementation and quick results from data analysis.
During the annual review of the state’s hospital performance report, Department of Health and Senior Services Commissioner Mary O’Dowd told reporters that hospital-acquired infections kill roughly 100,000 people in the United States each year, with costs up to $33 billion. She added that, in the near future, providers will not be reimbursed for services when a patient gets an infection.