March 17, 2023 | Net Health

3 min read

Preventing Pressure Injuries in Hospitals Takes Best Practices and Technology

We know pressure injuries are on the rise, and they can wreak havoc with patient health and a hospital’s bottom line. If your hospital is like most, you’ve already taken steps to implement a pressure injury prevention program (PIPP). And it’s likely based, at least in part, on the guidelines from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

The Questions to Ask

To help hospital administrators and PIPP teams launch or restart a PIPP in accordance with AHRQ’s guidelines, Net Health asked its wound care experts to summarize a few key takeaways from the agency’s toolkit.

1. Catalog existing pressure injury prevention practices. 

All good plans begin with an assessment of the current situation. AHQR suggests asking these questions:

  • Is an initial risk assessment completed within a certain timeframe of admission?
  • If so, what tool is used?
  • Are the results used to assign risk?
  • What is the risk assessment process?

2. Perform a gap analysis. 

Comparing existing practices to evidence-based best practices and identifying what is missing is a quick way to ascertain if you’ve implemented 2% or 90% of the AHRQ program. Ask:

  • What aspects of your care process already follow best practices?
  • Are there others that diverge in small ways or in major ways?
  • Which gaps are organization-wide, and which are specific to one or more units?

4. Focus on “care bundles.” Pressure ulcer prevention is complex, and so is identifying best practices. To simplify it, AHRQ recommends thinking in terms of care bundles—what best practices, if done in combination, are likely to lead to better outcomes? The bundle AHRQ uses is comprehensive skin assessment, standardized pressure injury risk assessment, and care planning and implementation to assess risk areas. Your bundle may cover other aspects of care. The key is to take the time to study the needs of your patients, team and organization and create a bundle that works for you.

Technology and Digital Tools

Of course, today’s best practices also encompass the use of technology and digital tools. Electronic health record (EHR) systems can be important support tools for effective PIP programs.  The platforms record vital patient information, share it with team members, document it for compliance and do much more. 

Is your EHR meeting your needs? Does your existing EHR support and enhance your PIPP? Is it interoperable with other technologies that can enhance wound care?  How efficient and easy to use is it?

Supporting Staffing Challenges

With the staffing challenges many hospitals face today, that last question is especially important. You want resources that give time back to busy providers – not those that add more work and complexity to the workday. 

For example, Net Health’s pressure injury surveillance program simplifies documentation workflows and enables non-specialists to measure wounds in a systematic manner using mobile software and digital imaging.  The technology takes processes that used to take 30 minutes or more down to just 5 minutes.

Look at what’s available in the marketplace and then work with your IT vendor to identify where opportunities exist to improve your PIP processes and how digital tools can be integrated into your existing EHR system.

Check out Resources

Here’s how to access AHRQ’s Toolkit, the Implementation Guide and more about state-of-the-art wound care technology and pressure injury prevention best practices:

Preventing Pressure Injuries in Hospitals: A Toolkit for Improving Quality of Care

Pressure Injury Prevention Program Implementation Guide

Leveraging Digital Tools to Better Treat Wound Care Patients

Wound Care Expert Cathy Thomas Hess Lays Out the Importance of Putting the “Why” in Wound Care Workflow

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