Healthcare prognosticators are touting 2019 as the year of value-based care (VBC), which binds industry partners together in “solution contracting” for better patient outcomes. This upstream/downstream channel collaboration affects material suppliers, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and healthcare providers. A key driver of successful outcomes is infection prevention and control (IPC). Consequently, hospitals must emphasize environmental hygiene in order to do the right thing by their patients and benefit the bottom line. Never before have the goals of healthcare providers, payers and patients been so clearly aligned.
According to Forbes, VBC will be less focused on cost-effectiveness with a greater emphasis on treatment and outcomes, benefiting both providers and patients. In other words, hospitals will prioritize the wellbeing of their patients over saving money, which will ultimately pay off in more sustainable reimbursements. That’s where material selection comes into the equation.
Eastman has long advocated independent testing of polymers used in medical device applications. In addition to its 4-step test designed to screen polymers for disinfectant compatibility prior to selection and design, Eastman developed a simple drop test for electronic medical device housings in order to understand how high stress areas perform after being disinfected and dropped. Eastman shares its easily replicable test methodology with OEMs in hopes that they will do their own evaluations to validate. Choosing the right polymer improves IPC, because there’s a direct correlation between “cleaning hygiene failure” and healthcare associated infections (HAIs).
According to the CDC, surgical infections alone account for up to $10 billion dollars in hospital costs each year. In fact, on any given day, one in 31 hospital patients contracts at least one HAI. These infections are often preventable with standardized cleaning and disinfection protocols. But incompatible and unapproved cleaning agents can result in premature deterioration of a device’s plastic components, causing costly equipment failure and delays in patient care. Using Eastman’s polymer tests, OEMs can make better informed material selections, and hospitals can lower environmental hygiene maintenance costs, thereby reducing the incidence of surgical infections as well as other HAIs.
So, it’s a collaborative effort – from supplier to manufacturer to provider to patient. All parties have a vested interest in choosing more cleanable materials. This choice could lead to lower cost of ownership, better outcomes and more improved access to care, not to mention a more sustainable reimbursement model.
Mindray, a leading global developer of medical technology, used Eastman’s testing information proactively during product development, allowing the company to move forward quickly with disinfectant-resistant polymers in its new line of patient monitors. Mindray was willing to make the investment in testing new materials, because leadership knew that it was the right thing for healthcare, and it was the right thing for their business.
Mindray chose to incorporate medical-grade disinfectant-ready copolyesters into its current generation of patient monitors. The Passport Series of bedside monitors, T1 Monitor/Module and Accutorr Series of spot check monitors are used in healthcare facilities throughout North America. This equipment is now fully compatible with a list of more than 20 of today’s most commonly used cleaners and disinfectants.
Smart polymer selection is the first step in the process of fighting HAIs – ultimately leveraging IPC, reducing costs for healthcare providers and improving outcomes for patients. Hospitals are shifting from a mindset of cutting maintenance costs to investing in environmental hygiene. Just as hand hygiene is a key intervention to break the chain of infection, so is controlling or eliminating contaminants on medical devices and equipment via stringent disinfection. VBC has been described as the “intersection of cost and quality.” Beyond that, it’s a holistic approach to supply chain healthcare that just makes sense.