For infection control, hospitals rank specialty vendors higher than EHR giants, says KLAS

Analysts see a best-of-breed strategy finding favor, with companies such as Xenex, Ecolab and VigiLanz preferred over Epic and Cerner for their innovative approaches to patient safety surveillance.
By Mike Miliard
01:13 PM
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Hospitals and health systems seeking better technologies for infection control often prefer to take a best-of-breed approach, rather than relying on tools from electronic health record vendors such as Epic and Cerner, a new KLAS report shows.

"Provider organizations are increasingly looking for innovative ways to reduce infections, whether this be through innovative tools, such as UV-disinfection equipment and electronic hand-hygiene monitoring, or through innovative capabilities in infection control software, such as predictive analytics and active alerting," said researchers.

But whether they're looking for ease of use, innovation or simply effectiveness, these providers are tending to turn toward specialized tech companies whose primary focus is on surveillance and safety, according to the new report.

WHY IT MATTERS
KLAS surveyed health systems about their infection control and prevention priorities. Researchers grouped these technologies into three areas, and polled respondents about where they were in the buying journey:

  • For UV disinfection, 49 percent of providers had already adopted a system, and 32 percent were considering a purchase.
  • For electronic hand-hygiene monitoring, those numbers were quite different: just 14 percent of hospitals have a system in place, while 56 percent are shopping around.
  • And when it comes to more innovative surveillance software, such as such as automatic chart flagging and reporting, those numbers were 24 and 49, respectively.

For UV-disinfection vendors, Xenex enjoyed the "most (and the most positive) mindshare" among those hospitals polled, said KLAS, partly for its sharing of research-validated outcomes. It's the only vendor for whom survey participants said they wanted to broaden their deployments.

Other companies mentioned in that space included Tru-D (survey takers indicated they were "confident it would drive outcomes" but wondered about product limitations and workflow challenges); Clorox (while "less well known for UV disinfection," said KLAS, it's "seen as an affordable option") and Surfacide (it has a "unique three-tower approach and is noted for a shorter cycle time").

When it came to electronic hand-hygiene monitoring software, researchers said curiosity about such systems far outpaces actual deployments. Among those hospitals with monitoring systems in place, they noted that Ecolab "allows customers to set up zones around patient beds to capture all of WHO’s My 5 Moments for Hand Hygiene," with analytics and alerts for real-time feedback.

KLAS also found positive perceptions GOJO  ("mostly based on word of mouth; some respondents express concern that the solution"), DebMed ("users have achieved reduced infections"); BioVigil ("uses alcohol sensing, making it difficult to cheat the system") and SwipeSense ("stands out for providing strategic guidance").

And as for that third category – more innovative surveillance techniques than simple disinfection and hygiene monitoring – researchers found that VigiLanz leads the market with "high retention and new technology (such as active alerting). Desired capabilities include advanced automation and predictive analytics."

Meanwhile, retention among Premier's customers is the lowest of those surveyed because of "inadequate" technology innovation, said KLAS researchers. They also noted that, "despite BD’s and Wolters Kluwer’s solid performance, only about half of their customers are likely to invest in their innovative technology, often because these customers are considering moving to their EHR vendors."

THE LARGER TREND
The market for infection control and surveillance technology is not a new one. But recent years have brought changes and innovation to how these tools are able to be deployed and the ways they're able to help ensure hygiene compliance and alert clinicians when patients are at risk for healthcare-associated infections.

That said, the effort can be an uphill battle – and some reports point to an industry that's losing ground.

Still, technology can be be a valuable ally in helping prevent nosocomial illness. In 2018, we reported how Denver Health Medical Center, by deploying an electronic monitoring system, was able to improve its hand-washing and hygiene compliance rate from 40 to 70 percent.

ON THE RECORD
Despite the fact that some hospitals are considering replacing lower-performing software with tools from their EHR vendors, the KLAS report found that the even the biggest companies "struggle to deliver" the systems hospitals are looking for in this space.

"Epic has been developing their surveillance software for several years but still falls far short of customer expectations," according to researchers. "A few are optimistic Epic will improve, but most feel Epic doesn’t deliver innovative updates, heed customer suggestions, or have needed expertise."

As for Cerner, just 8 percent of its EHR clients use if for infection control, and many customers told KLAS they've rely instead on in-house systems and some have concerns about the accuracy and usability of reports: "Increasingly, Cerner is not part of customers' long-term plans," said researchers, noting a 15 percent drop in the past year.

Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
Email the writer: mike.miliard@himssmedia.com

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