Following the financial pressures the healthcare industry incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, GP PRO, a division of Georgia-Pacific, conducted a survey of acute and post-acute healthcare providers to understand if those pressures remain and how providers are prioritizing their spending. As infection preventionists gathered in Orlando for the APIC 2023 Annual Conference & Exposition, the comprehensive survey provided timely and relevant insight.
According to the survey, for nearly two-thirds of respondents, margins are trending up; still all respondents stated that financial pressures remain due in large part to increased costs related to labor, PPE, cleaning and disposable supplies, and preventing healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). Despite these pressures, over the next 12 months, healthcare providers anticipate investing time and resources into staffing and retention, improving margins, and preventing HAIs.
In regard to HAIs, preventing them is the top financial priority for the next 12 months for one-quarter of respondents. Yet a clear majority of respondents—84%—noted that the number of such infections has somewhat or significantly increased since the onset of COVID, and 39% said preventing HAIs is worth investing more in than they currently do. For those 39%, that investment will go toward high-quality hand hygiene products, proper PPE, touchless restroom dispensers, and easily accessible hand hygiene stations for staff as well as for visitors as providing the most value.
“The vast majority of healthcare providers acknowledge that HAIs continue to increase, and nearly all of our survey respondents put preventing HAIs as a top three priority, but the cost of preventing them is creating a real financial reckoning for them,” said Ashley Butler, vice president and general manager, Skincare, for GP PRO. “As a provider of hand hygiene solutions for healthcare, it is incumbent on us and other industry leaders to create a viable path forward for infection preventionists to cost-effectively address what has become, in my opinion, a healthcare crisis.”
According to Butler, the survey shed light on one such path forward, as 91% of respondents believe collaboration between infection preventionists and environmental services (EVS) departments is important in lowering HAI rates. “Historically, reducing or preventing HAIs has focused almost exclusively on hand hygiene compliance among medical staff, but our findings suggest a need to think more holistically about the role each individual and each touchpoint plays in improving patient and staff safety.”