Podcast: AliTalk With Adrienne Hamilton On Infection Control

July 9, 2019

Hospitals and other healthcare facilities are under a lot of pressure to increase their infection control measures, while also reducing costs and improving patient outcomes. In recent years, the use of disposable items has been introduced into healthcare facilities for the purposes of preventing hospital acquired infections, cost factors, as well as for convenience. Disposable items include thermometers, patient safety straps, operating room turnover kits, blood pressure cuffs, bed pans, and personal hygiene items. Listen in on our podcast with Adrienne Hamilton, Director of Marketing and Sales Operations, as she shares how operating room turnover kits, a prepackaged bundle of disposable table sheets, pillowcases, arm board covers, hamper liners, and straps, are emerging as a trend in medical supplies and how she discovered the eminent need for them in one hospital setting, where nurses were asked to assemble similar kits for overtime.


Shelby Skrhak: It seems healthcare professionals at care facilities are trying to do more with less time and resources. However, one healthcare products company is trying to help the industry with their mission to save time, reduce costs, and substantially reduce the risk of infection. Massachusetts based AliMed has been creating and manufacturing healthcare products for more than 50 years and created a fabrication molding material called AliPlast and that’s actually still used in orthotic applications today. Here to discuss some of the mission that’s happening with AliMed is Adrienne Hamilton. Adrienne, nice to have you today.

Adrienne Hamilton: Thank you for having me. Excited to be here.

Shelby Skrhak: So I understand, in 1997 AliMed introduced the Knee Saver, which is a patented foam wedge pad that’s designed to help relieve knee stress for baseball catchers. So actually it was endorsed and first worn by Major League Baseball All-Star catcher Sandy Alomar Jr. That is quite an endorsement for your products.

Adrienne Hamilton: It is. It is. We kind of cross a lot of different avenues and products that really help improve people’s lives and in the care of people and that is one that we’re really proud of.

Shelby Skrhak: Yeah, exactly. So you do cover a lot of ground and a lot of products. So tell me a little bit about your role there at AliMed.

Adrienne Hamilton: So I am the director of marketing and sales operations here for AliMed and get involved in a lot of our channel management and servicing our customers across the acute care space, ASC’s long-term care. We really do serve a wide variety of end users.

Shelby Skrhak: Yeah, like I mentioned in the intro, I mean that the aim is to be able to save time and reduce costs and ultimately reduce the risk for infection at healthcare facilities. Tell me a little bit about that mission.

Adrienne Hamilton: Absolutely. It’s a great question and a real serious area of focus for the acute care space in particular. Currently, we’re under a lot of pressure as a nation to reduce costs, certainly improve patient outcomes by reducing the risk of infection, and part of reducing cost is actually becoming more and more efficient and not just having lower cost products but also saving time of the staff within in the surgical facilities.

Shelby Skrhak: Well, it seems like when you’re talking about reducing the risk of infection, does that sometimes come at odds with these facilities that are trying to do more in less time with less resources? I mean, is that really what’s keeping OR professionals up at night?

Adrienne Hamilton: It is certainly one of the questions that we hear over and over again as something that these people are worried about and constantly looking to better their service of care without increasing their expenses and AliMed has put a lot of research and development and engineering behind trying to find some solutions that will help them optimize their procedures in their care.

Shelby Skrhak: So tell me a little bit about that, that research and some of the products that are really making a difference in operating room specifically.

Adrienne Hamilton: What we’re finding is that as we talked to more and more clinicians about better ways that they can help prevent the spread of infection in an operating room, how they can save time in between procedures and how we can help them reduce costs, what we found is the use of something called a room turnover kit actually meets all three of those areas and helps improve cost efficiency, time efficiency, and reduces infection control.

Shelby Skrhak: So these items are all disposable and they’re just all in one convenient kit, but I understand it wasn’t always that way. You encountered a situation where some nurses were kind of doing a little bit of DIY. Now that’s amazing to consider how much nurses are already doing, the shortage of nurses, and how many duties they are called upon to do at the same time seemingly. So tell us a little bit about that situation.

Adrienne Hamilton: Sure. To explain a little bit more about the room turnover kit, what it does is in one prepackage bundle everything that a nurse or a clinician needs to prepare a room for the next procedure. So we would have things like the table drapes, the pillowcases, the arm board covers, the arm board straps, the body straps for patient safety and positioning the hamper liners, all of these things that they need in a disposable format now, whereas prior to that, it was all linen, and you can imagine the infection control risk really elevating when you’re talking about laundering all of these types of soiled products within the OR. So pretty intuitively, you can see the difference there from an infection control standpoint. From a time-saving standpoint, having these kits prepackaged and bundled, it allows them to just grab and go and really set up. So they’re not running around a storage room or down the hall to another cart where these various pieces may be stored. Circling back to the example, you mentioned it was really shocking. I was having a conversation at a recent industry meeting and I overheard one of these OR directors explaining how they have their nurses work overtime and actually pull and package these room turnover kits themselves in preparation for the next day’s cases. So at the price that it would cost to have someone at that level of skill, packaging these things is certainly an inefficient way to go about it. But buying these products in bulk is the only way they knew how to operate.

Shelby Skrhak: And so they were manually piecing together all of the different covers and disposable items which were probably dispersed in different areas, in different cabinets throughout the supply room. At least they had the oversight or the foresight to assemble them in a kit that’s ready to go but nothing like that before had existed.

Adrienne Hamilton: Exactly. It’s an evolving trend and we’re seeing more and more facilities convert to this type of prepackaged room turnover kit and AliMed is certainly proud to be on the forefront of helping develop that and we have a kit now that is pretty Universal in terms of its application and has everything they need to do that turnover in one-stop shop.

Shelby Skrhak: And so that’s obviously being able to save time because of the turnover that it takes to go from one procedure to the next. Do you have some numbers or statistics about what type of cost savings or time-saving that some of your customers have experienced?

Adrienne Hamilton: The time-saving is about a 30% reduction and cost savings, unfortunately, I don’t have that data.

Shelby Skrhak: Thirty percent is pretty substantial in time savings.

Adrienne Hamilton: It is. It is. And it’s getting more and more important as the reimbursement rates are reduced and compensation from insurances and government agencies is also being tightened, that it’s very critical that they are being extremely efficient.

Shelby Skrhak: And speaking of that, also on AliMed site, I found it interesting, so these are called never events where the spread of infection or falls and I understand they’re not reimbursed by Medicare.

Adrienne Hamilton: There’s been a huge transition in the healthcare industry at large to deter facilities from having these types of things occur and it really spans across not only reimbursement but also certification, joint commission, AORN. A lot of these governing bodies of the facilities are really having a zero tolerance policy for these types of things.

Shelby Skrhak: Well, and that makes perfect sense, but it seems like a catch-22 because a lot of the equipment that we’re talking about are things that help prevent falls, for example. So if you’re not reimbursing for fall management solutions such as alarms or sensors or even just signage that identifies high patient risk for falls, is this kind of a catch-22 for healthcare providers and facilities?

Adrienne Hamilton: In some ways and that’s where we are able to partner with people because we have such an understanding of those types of challenges and are able to help work them through that by providing solutions and product offerings that can help them at least move the needle in the right direction.

Shelby Skrhak: Well, and you’re right, Adrienne, it is about partnerships and how to provide a solution that works for everybody. Let’s talk about patients now. So the risk of hospital-acquired infections and superbugs is a concern for many consumers and patients that are going into a hospital or a health care setting. I mean, you go into Hospital thinking that this is a sterile safety zone, but a lot of times they can be kind of ground zero for infections. I hate to pull out the stats, but I mean every year an estimated 648,000 people in the US develop infections during a hospital stay and about 75,000 die and that’s according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So that’s a lot of people that are at risk for hospital-acquired infections. So let’s talk about just the tangible benefit for consumers who are concerned about these infections. What type of peace of mind can patients have from solutions like this? Essentially, what are the benefits for patients?

Adrienne Hamilton: The biggest benefit to them, I guess at the forefront, is the risk that they are undergoing for infection when they do have to go into a surgical center or a hospital for a procedure. It’s always a risk when you have any type of incision made and here we’re just really looking to reduce that as much as possible. And then on the outset, whether it’s through insurance or out-of-pocket costs, saving costs and creating efficiencies saves everyone along the food chain money.

Shelby Skrhak: Right. Right. So I mean those are all very important concerns that really all of us have. As far as something that you’ve been experiencing within the industry is with trends or changes that you that you see coming, as you as you look into I guess the future with your crystal ball, you know, there’s always going to be different challenges and changes that come down the pike. What’s ahead for you and AliMed and what projects are going to be keeping you busy in the coming year?

Adrienne Hamilton: Some of the things that we are recognizing as opportunities and areas of growth across the OR clinical applications is an expansion of the disposable product universe and that can carry over into such things as patient positioners. So one time use patient positioners that are maybe made out of foam instead of a more expensive reusable gel, disposable straps to properly position a patient for a procedure where those aren’t cleaned and those are discarded after a surgical case and even all the way down to something like an ergonomic floor mat, which traditionally has also been reused and wiped down and cleaned in between procedures. We’re now seeing an uptick in the disposable options for the clinician to stand on an ergonomic mat and reduce the fatigue and strain on their back and legs.

Shelby Skrhak: That’s true. You don’t even really think about straps that are used on hospital beds or even hard surfaces on the hospital bed itself that are pretty vulnerable to contamination. Now when it comes to preventing an infection, you don’t want cost to stand in the way, but do these disposable items end up costing more than reusable items?

Adrienne Hamilton: They have an initial less cost initially and with the factor of the infection control amortized in there, they ultimately… it’s a decision that each facility makes on their own which protocols they’re going to use, whether they’re going to have sterile processing and reuse things or dispose. So it’s really an ongoing debate that I don’t know that even a clear answer exists currently. There are two schools of thought.

Shelby Skrhak: Sure. Well, that’s interesting because the amortizing the cost of infection and all of those other factors that come into play I can see where it’s complicated territory and difficult decisions for hospitals and healthcare providers. You guys are certainly helping with that, that mission. Adrienne, thank you so much for joining me.

Adrienne Hamilton: Thank you for having me and giving us a platform to discuss this very important trend in healthcare.

Shelby Skrhak: Thank you for joining me on this episode of AliTalks by AliMed. Until next time. I’m your host, Shelby Skrhak.

For more information on AliMed's infection control products, click here.


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