Net Health Wound Experts Summarize AHRQ Best Practices
We know pressure injuries are on the rise, and they can wreak havoc with patient health and the 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).
AHRQ’s “Preventing Pressure Injuries in Hospitals: A Toolkit for Improving Quality of Care” and the accompanying Implementation Guide are in-depth, go-to resources for developing, executing and monitoring a PIPP. However, the depth and breadth of these guidelines can be daunting. Many organizations find that, after making their initial quality improvements, they are unsure what to do next, and the momentum for change wanes.
AHRQ Tips to Prime the Pump
To help hospital administrators and PIPP teams launch or restart a PIPP in accordance with AHRQ’s guidelines, Net Health’s asked its wound care experts to summarize a few key takeaways from the agency’s toolkit.
- 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?
- Next, 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?
- 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, best practices encompass the use of technology and digital tools. EHRs 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. Does your existing EHR support and enhance your PIPP? How efficient and easy to use is it? Is it interoperable with other technologies that can enhance wound care? 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.
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.
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: