Matching subsidies for infection control effective at lowering HAI levels

Incentivizing infection control via subsidies could help encourage regional spending healthcare infection control activities, according to a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Researchers from Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy in Washington, D.C., and Princeton (N.J.) University argue that since patients can carry infections from one facility to another, infection control practices at one healthcare facility can affect other facilities. Thus, there is a need for regional infection control strategy.

They studied three types of financial subsidies to assess whether they could influence infection control measures at healthcare organizations. The three types were:

• A subsidy tied to the number of uninfected patients
• A fixed subsidy
• A dollar-for-dollar matching subsidy

Researchers found that a dollar-for-dollar matching subsidy was effective at reducing the number of hospital-acquired infections. A dollar-for-dollar matching subsidy involves policymakers matching hospital spending for infection control.

Additionally, the researchers found matching subsidies could result in higher infection control spending at hospitals with high transmission and/or high levels of patients with infections on admission.

"We need to find ways to improve infection control in U.S. hospitals, and financial incentives could provide a strong motivation," said Ramanan Laxminarayan, CDDEP director and senior author on the study. "The cost of infection control is small compared to the tremendous cost-reduction that could be achieved across the system."

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