While COVID-19 has disrupted the way care is delivered, it has also spotlighted antiquated processes in desperate need of modernizing. Under this lens, the manual process of infection surveillance long employed by skilled nursing facilities has received much scrutiny.
To aid skilled nursing facilities in addressing the need for more robust infection surveillance programs and strategies, Netsmart hosted ‘Bolster Your Infection Control & Surveillance Amid COVID-19,’ a webinar featuring Peter Von Mechow, RN, NHA, clinical consulting manager, McBee; Maggie Cameron, senior living solution strategist, Netsmart; and Laurie Laxton, ABILITY clinical education program lead.
The conversation addressed issues around surveillance in skilled nursing facilities and identified solutions for organizations struggling to adapt to the new realities and regulations surrounding care.
Learn how senior living facilities can improve COVID-19 surveillance and infection control by harnessing the power of technologies like telehealth and telemonitoring.
Infection control challenges
With no current national directive, infection surveillance and reporting is conducted on a facility-by-facility basis through labor-intensive, manual processes. The information guiding this surveillance is aggregated from many sources, including diagnostic tests, antibiotic lists and vital sign sheets. Given the variety of these materials, time is often spent searching for this information, extending the surveillance process and distracting from care.
In addition to the issue of surveillance, facilities must reassess conventional strategies for control and containment procedures, adapting to the infection realities that accompany the spread of COVID-19. All processes need to be reassessed through the lens of COVID-19 to determine efficacy within the facility.
Infection control solutions
To combat issues surrounding infection control, skilled nursing facilities must implement new written regulations and operating procedures. These mandates should include proper handling of PPEs, addition of infectious waste containment measures to linen procedures and increased availability of negative airflow rooms. In addition to these regulations, facilities should consider increasing continuity of staff and incorporating additional hand sanitation measures for staff and visitors.
While these strategies impact the tangible, it is the intangible that can solve for issues involving reporting and surveillance. By innovating technology strategies, such as electronic health records (EHRs)
, telehealth, telemonitoring and surveillance tools like ABILITY INFECTIONWATCH
, facilities can eliminate paper charting and establish real-time capture of vitals, ensuring accurate, timely surveillance. Facilities can also harness the associated data to manage COVID-19 screening, identify high-risk residents by existing diagnosis, evaluate vulnerable resident populations and manage medication expiration.
As understanding of the virus evolves, so must the tools used to track it. By embracing the capabilities of new technology, facilities can manage infection control and surveillance today, while simultaneously improving processes and outcomes for tomorrow.