Archive Cost Justification 2017

Make Room in Your Budget For Whole-Room Disinfection

Mobile robots hunt down and destroy even the hardiest of multidrug-resistant organisms.

Bill Donahue, Senior Editor


mobile robots ADDED VALUE Robots improve patient safety and could decrease the costs associated with healthcare-acquired infections.

If you're considering joining the increasing number of facilities that have invested in whole-room disinfection technologies like robots that emit ultraviolet light and devices that dispense aerosolized hydrogen peroxide, keep in mind that the capital outlay for these systems will be significant. Whether you decide to zap your ORs with light or fog them with gas, here's how to cost-justify the purchase.

Getting results
Some investments might be a tough sell to value-analysis committees, but adding whole-room disinfection to help prevent infections shouldn't be one of them, says Joel Sklar, MD, chief medical officer at Marin General Hospital in Greenbrae, Calif. "It's a straightforward calculation," he explains. "Infections are very expensive." There are the direct costs associated with prolonged patient stays, the indirect costs of harming your facility's reputation and the potential negative impact reportable infections can have on value-based reimbursements, says Dr. Sklar.

Capital committees tend to see whole-room disinfection as not only a matter of patient safety, but also as one of effective cost containment. Although the capital outlay for such a system is significant — a single disinfection robot can run more than $100,000, depending on the vendor — consider that HAIs cost U.S. hospitals in excess of $45 billion per year, according to CDC estimates. Patients infected with C. diff increased hospitals' cost per case by 40%, or an average of $7,285, according to a 2015 study published in the American Journal of Infection Control. These patients also had a 55% longer length of stay and were 77% more likely to be readmitted within 30 days. Such sobering statistics have helped drive adoption of whole-room disinfection systems. A few examples:

  • Upper Allegheny Health System acquired 3 whole-room disinfection units to serve 2 facilities: Olean (N.Y.) General Hospital and Bradford (Pa.) Regional Medical Center. Raphael Moore, director of environmental services for Olean General Hospital, says each unit cost approximately $40,000, nearly all of which was paid for through creative fundraising efforts. Since Olean General Hospital adopted the disinfection robots last December, C. diff incidents have dropped by 17%. Mr. Moore considers these results "phenomenal," and he expects even more significant reductions in infection rates between year 2 and year 3. He also believes the investment will reap intangible benefits in the form of goodwill, by showing the community the hospital is taking an "extra step" to protect patients.
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