The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many healthcare organizations to reassess their capabilities and standards when it comes to infectious disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. From nursing homes to outpatient settings and beyond, vulnerabilities have been exposed within healthcare facilities large and small that have compromised the safety of both patients and staff. However, this is an issue that goes beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
Better infectious disease practices are something all healthcare organizations should reassess on a daily basis to ensure they’re constantly fulfilling their responsibilities to public health.
How can hospitals strengthen their capabilities and standards when it comes to infectious disease? By calling on the services of an infectious disease expert. However, not all infectious disease specialists are created the same. Dr. Mathur is an infectious disease consultant for hospitals within Hackensack Meridian Health and RWJBarnabas Health – two of the largest health systems in the state – giving him a powerful perspective on how infectious disease expertise can help create a stronger hospital environment. He believes the experience provided from the network of over 40 top-rated infectious disease specialists at ID Care give hospitals the best chance to excel. From better patient care to hands-on training of resident physicians and more, here are the top 5 reasons why your hospital doesn’t need just any infectious disease expert – but an infectious disease expert from ID Care.
1. Infectious Disease and Better Patient Care
Patient care is the most important service a hospital has to offer. Without superior patient care, there’s no reason anyone would entrust a family member to a hospital. That’s why hospitals strive to employ the finest physicians – from cardiologists to neurologists to oncologists and beyond. However, when it comes to infectious disease care, expertise is too often overlooked. “Seeing patients that require consultations on how to manage complicated infectious issues is one of the most important things we do for our hospital partners,” said Dr. Mathur. “Because without an infectious disease specialist, those complicated cases get left to other physicians who might not be fully trained in handling the intricacies of infectious diseases.”
Infections happen; and they happen all over the body – sometimes when least expected. Ignoring the training and experience required to prevent, diagnose, and treat complex infections can cost hospitals lives and resources. The infectious disease experts at ID Care specialize solely on infectious disease care, giving them the unique ability to offer the most effective prevention methods, accurate diagnoses, and state-of-the-art treatments available today. This is something that can’t be overlooked, because if a hospital isn’t offering the services of a true infectious disease specialist, they’re simply not providing their patients with the best possible care.
2. Closing the Infectious Disease Gap in Case Management
When a patient is admitted into a hospital, his or her care plan is moved through a phased approach. With each phase, questions must be answered, such as: can the patient transition to the rehab setting or the outpatient setting? Are they going to need antibiotics as an outpatient? What is the follow-up going to be? The infectious disease specialists at ID Care can help answer these questions and give the case management team the confidence they need to move each patient through the care process as safely and efficiently as possible. By reducing confusion, time, and resources, an ID Care expert can undoubtably save costs and improve care within a facility. However, perhaps the greatest value is the peace of mind provided to patients and their families. “Patients are always looking for engagement with somebody on their case,” said Dr. Mathur. “They want to know where their particular case is headed and what they need to do so they can transition out of the hospital.”
By making regular rounds and touching base with the case management team, an infectious disease expert can create an environment where care plans are run seamlessly from phase to phase and patients feel safe and understood. This type of care management has proved to be an invaluable asset for hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the infectious disease specialists at ID Care have been helping hospitals improve their processes in this way for many years. “This isn’t just for COVID-19, this is for all cases,” said Dr. Mathur. “Case management teams turn to us all the time to answer the most important questions. They want to know critical information like whether a patient is ready to leave the hospital and can transition their therapy into one of our ID Care outpatient infusion suites, or if another patient needs an MRI or other diagnostic tests. In most cases, these are questions that only an infectious disease expert can answer. And our hospital partners see great value in us being there to address those questions.”
3. Creating a Safer Facility Through Diligent Infection Prevention
Another topic that has become so important during COVID-19 is how hospitals and all healthcare organizations can make their facilities safer when it comes to infection prevention. Again, this is something the infectious disease specialists at ID Care have been helping hospitals improve upon long before COVID-19. “Whether I’m on a case or whether there’s an infection prevention issue or not,” said Dr. Mathur. “I’m always thinking about what’s happening on every floor. I’m assessing if there are any risks to anybody as far as communicable diseases.”
The truth of the matter is hospitals are breeding grounds for the development and spread of infectious diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year an estimated 648,000 people in the U.S. develop infections during a hospital stay, and about 75,000 of those infections result in death. Hospital-acquired illnesses have also been shown to further the strengthening of antibiotic-resistant superbugs. An infectious disease specialist, like those at ID Care, offers the best line of defense in creating a healthcare environment where pathogenic microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi can be properly controlled to create a safer situation for patients and staff.
Furthermore, the infectious disease experts at ID Care are uniquely positioned to help your hospital stay up-to-date on the latest infectious disease protocols, like those mandated by the New Jersey Department of Health (DOH). In fact, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Mathur and ID Care have helped health systems and hospitals throughout New Jersey successfully implement the protocols needed to maintain and exceed the highest standard of public health in the state.
4. Signs of Infection Vs. Non-infection: Consulting an Expert
Symptoms of an infection can be hard to diagnose. And the truth is simple: it takes an expert to decide if something is an infection or not. Whether a patient acquires an infection within a hospital or they come into a facility showing symptoms of an infection in the first place – the diagnosis of an infection versus a non-infection plays a big role in shaping the treatment plan.
Resident physicians and specialists may not be equipped to make such a diagnosis. That’s where the infectious disease experts at ID Care come in. “If a patient has a certain symptom that’s assumed to be an infection,” said Dr. Mathur. “It’s our job to do the proper consult to decide whether or not it might be something else. And if we do decide it’s an infectious disease, we can then inform the care team on the next steps for treatment as well as the safety protocols needed to ensure the infection doesn’t spread to other parts of the facility.”
Bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitic infections can present themselves in many ways throughout the human body — and they are notoriously difficult to identify, for patients and general internists alike. Understanding how and why unusual or complicated infections occur requires an infectious disease specialist — a medical professional with highly specialized expertise. With years of experience handling a range of common and complex cases, the infectious disease physicians at ID Care are uniquely equipped with the understanding required to identify the different ways infections manifest themselves in the body and how those infections can be most effectively treated.
5. Teaching the Next Generation of Infectious Disease Physicians
The field of infectious disease is a sub-specialty of internal medicine. So whereas specialists like cardiologists focus on the heart and gastroenterologist on the stomach and surrounding organs, infectious disease specialists study and understand every organ system, as well as the ways each system is impacted by different disease processes. Teaching the next generation of physicians about proper infectious disease care is probably one of the most important things ID Care can do for a hospital and the medical field in general. By sharing best practices learned through many years of service, ID Care is uniquely positioned to turn resident physicians into experts themselves.
“What we try to do is teach resident physicians how to take care of patients when it comes to infectious disease,” said Dr. Mathur. “For example, we often give lectures on infectious disease to residents in internal medicine or medical students that come from different medical schools such as Rutgers University or Rowan University.
However, teaching doesn’t – and shouldn’t – end at lectures. Most of the time a hands-on approach is the best way the infectious disease experts at ID Care can make a real impact on resident physicians. “A lot of the best teaching is done on rounds within the hospital,” said Dr. Mathur. “Take for instance when I walk into the ICU and the ICU team is full of residents and students. That’s the perfect opportunity to teach about a specific case with everyone involved. This training is invaluable because it turns real cases into teaching moments.”
Infectious diseases are constantly evolving, and ensuring resident physicians are always up-to-date on the latest treatments and prevention methods requires constant evolution as well. “The amazing thing about infectious disease is that you always have to be on your toes,” said Dr. Mathur. “There’s no sort of static nature of infectious disease. So as far as learning, it’s literally an everyday process. Specifically, over the last 6 to 8 months it’s been about one disease process [COVID-19], but this has been going on since I started in infectious disease, and it will continue moving forward. There’s no end to the amount of information we need to learn and disseminate to others.”
When it comes to infectious diseases, no two are alike. The infectious disease experts at ID Care can help keep resident physicians up-to-date on the latest prevention methods and therapeutics to ensure the best possible care today and into the future.
Improving Hospitals Through Better Infectious Disease Standards
As stated earlier in the article, COVID-19 has caused many hospitals to reassess their capabilities and standards when it comes to infectious disease. And perhaps, this is the silver lining around the current pandemic. With the help of an infectious disease expert, there is no doubt hospitals large and small can improve their facilities in the categories of patient care, case management, infection prevention and diagnosis, and teaching – creating an environment where patients and staff feel safe and secure.
It’s not an overstatement to say that one small change can transform an entire hospital for the better. But not all infectious disease specialists are created equal, and real change can’t happen without the best in the field – like the experts at ID Care.
Contact an Infectious Disease Specialist at ID Care
ID Care is the largest independent infectious disease practice on the East Coast and the second largest in the United States. With leading-edge infectious disease services and a team of more than 40 top-rated infectious disease specialists at your disposal, ID Care can help your hospital hit the top 5 markers mentioned above, and more. As a longstanding partner with some of the most renowned healthcare organizations in the state, has helped facilities large and small establish leading-edge infectious disease protocols for improved patient care, better outcomes, and reduced costs — both short-term and over time. If you want to learn more about how ID Care can help your hospital, call 908-281-0221 to schedule a consultation with an ID Care expert or visit the ID Care partner page to learn more.