A new survey by SwipeSense has found that patients are worried about hospital safety and are happy to see facilities using contact tracing technology. It also points to a larger problem – hospitals’ failure to communicate to patients about safety – which still deserves attention.
With the pandemic underscoring patients’ vulnerabilities, 73% of those responding to the survey from vendor SwipeSense reported feeling concerned or extremely concerned about hospital safety, a 46% increase in their concern levels since the pandemic’s onset.
At present, many hospitals still use manual methods of contact tracing when dealing with COVID-19 and other outbreaks of disease. These methods can be time-consuming, may be unreliable and may leave staffers and patients at risk despite their best efforts.
Given these concerns, it’s not surprising that 83% of respondents reported that they’d feel safer with contact tracing technology onboard at hospitals. Automated contact tracing not only protects patients, it addresses staff concerns, the researchers said. This technology allows hospitals to more readily comply with new regulations requiring them to notify employees who have been exposed to a COVID-positive patient.
On a related note, healthcare workers are also supportive of automated infection control tools, with 81% responding that they’d feel safer in hospitals with electronic hand hygiene monitoring in place. Poor hand hygiene not only protects staffers from contracting COVID-19, it reduces instances of hospital-acquired infections. This is a critical challenge, as poor hygiene contributes to 1.7 million HAIs per year and leads to 100,000 HAI-related patient deaths.
Before getting in any deeper here, we should bear in mind that the survey was conducted by a vendor with a vested interest in capturing data favoring its technology. That being said, however, this announcement does highlight an issue that gets too little attention in most hospital settings.
While hospital staffers are given ongoing safety training and are required to follow strict rules regarding key activities such as hand washing, patients are rarely aware of the role such efforts play in their care. Also, they’re rarely well-informed about the dangers of HAIs, getting the wrong medications, or experiencing harmful drug interactions.
As a result, they are unlikely to notice when hospitals aren’t doing a great job of protecting them, and unless they experience an adverse event, may never know what risks they faced.
However, under pandemic conditions patients have gotten, let us say, woke to the notion that hospitals are hotbeds of potential infections. They may find this to be unpleasant news, but they are likely to benefit from being more aware, as they’re in a better position to understand when something’s out of line and what to do about it.
While automated contact tracing technology may be just one of many, many moving parts addressing patient safety, any solution which helps patients help themselves comes with added benefits.