Infection controlIn recent years, infection control at hospitals has been brought into the spotlight moreso than historically. Health officials and the general public alike have been bombarded with headlines that are the cause for great concern, such as:

“Hospital X needs to improve”

“Outbreak of bug at Hospital Y”

“Hospital Z failing in patient care”

Often, blame within the media is placed squarely at the feet of staff members and attributed to carelessness or lack standards. Whilst these may certainly be contributing factors towards a lack of infection control, other factors such as mismanagement of data, lack of training or ineffective audits could also be to blame. Could infection control be another area improved by more accurate data processing that would allow the identification of potential flaws and pitfalls in procedures?

Infection Control: An overview

Infection control involves monitoring, controlling and preventing infections at a hospital, and is typically managed by a dedicated infection control team. Although the size of the team varies, each time is likely to be formed of:

– A lead nurse

– Senior infection control nurse

– Junior infection control nurse

– Audit and surveillance nurse/manager

– Support nurse

Generally, these teams will track a number of different points depending on the hospital in question, although commonly collected data may be concerned with:

– Hand hygiene

– Hospital cleanliness

– Intravenous lines inserted into patients when injecting certain fluids, typically associated with higher chances of infection.

– Common infections such as MRSA, CDIFF and E-Coli.

Relevant members of staff will be trained regularly to ensure standards are maintained and information is collected accurately and appropriately. Generally, data is collected through clinical case management systems or other methods; it is subsequently stored in different databases or Excel spreadsheets.

Bringing data to life can kill infections

As well as keeping data for internal use, including comparisons on a monthly or yearly basis to track progress, the information collected is also passed over to Public Health England for publishing. Further comparisons are then able to give indications on how well a hospital may be performing, such as against hospitals of a similar size collecting similar data.

Some of the most effective data comparisons we’ve seen have made use of a dynamic interactive dashboard, which can bring data to life by enhancing difference aspects to compare and contrast more effectively. Let’s consider two potential visualisations.

Heat Maps

These are colour-coded graphical representations of data and are used in many settings to display certain trails and characteristics.

In a hospital setting, the heat map can be in the form of a map of the hospitals split by department, colour-coded to display the level of cleanliness and results from bacterial cultures within the different departments. Typically, red may be used to indicate poor standards with green representing excellent standards, and all levels between the two extremes graded with matching colours. Such a method would allow rapid and convenient means of displaying results, allowing infectious control teams to ask pertinent questions on likely causes and methods to bring about necessary changes. Additionally, a dynamic dashboard would be able to save heat maps from all audits, thereby permitting simple comparison and contrast with previous months/years and prompting further questioning.

Double Axis Chart

Alternatively, a double axis chart facilitates comparison between two different elements, such as a comparison between different bacterial prevalence. Comparisons can be then made between any two elements and pitted against previous results or other hospitals. This provides a direct comparison between the effects of different strategies or treatments on infections disease control.

Endless Opportunities

These are just two potential visualisations from almost endless possibilities, each providing a means of visualising data more effectively to extract value from it. Beyond the technical aspects of a well-built visualisation dashboard, the reporting capability through tabular organisation means the correct data can easily be extracted; the dashboard will only display what you feed it!

If you believe the use of a dynamic interactive dashboard can help bring about richer value within your organisation, feel free to give us a call!


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