The ROI of Ventilation and UV Air Disinfection Machines

October 11, 2021

The Exponential ROI of Effective Air Management Systems

The Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, an independent monitoring and accountability body to ensure preparedness for global health crises, counts the total Covid-19 response cost at $11 trillion — with an additional $10 trillion for future containment.

The GPMBS board of leaders unanimously cited a “collective failure to take pandemic prevention, preparedness and response seriously and prioritize it accordingly”.

All hospitals implement strategies to reduce the spread of Hospital Acquired Infections to vulnerable patients in the surgery center, cancer ward, NICU, and beyond. Unfortunately, those strategies vary wildly both in scope and in how seriously staff take them — while other methods employ the use of devices that contain harmful byproducts.

According to a recent study, COVID-19 surges adversely impact HAI rates and clusters of infections within hospitals, this emphasizes the need for balancing COVID-related demands with routine hospital infection prevention.
The American Journal of Infection Control says, “Environmental disinfection has become the new frontier in the ongoing battle to reduce the risk of health care–associated infections (HAIs).” So why do so many health care facilities still fail to address their air management systems and protocols?

The Covid-19 pandemic made it clear that traditional HAI management protocols were not sufficient. Properly addressing airborne pathogens requires a heightened awareness, proper ventilation and direct airborne pathogen elimination.
While patient and employee health remains a top concern at hospitals, upper management typically wants to know the potential return on investment before approving any significant purchase or maintenance. The C-suite needs to know that the financial benefits of hospital disinfection systems outweigh the costs.

As you evaluate potential ROI, here are the numbers and facts you need to know about air management systems. They’re important to consider whether you’re a hospital executive or the one trying to plead your case to an executive!

The Economic Costs of Ignoring Air Management Systems

Researchers estimate that just one pathogen, Clostridium difficile, costs $4.8 billion annually in acute care settings. To break that down into more meaningful numbers, that’s $12,000 to $15,000 per infection, a lion’s share of which will be carried by the facility, not the patient or their insurer.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the direct costs of all HAIs amounted between $28 billion and $45 billion. That’s about $14,000-$22,500 per HAI patient each year.
While real-time data on the cost of all COVID-19 hospitalizations are not publicly available, various sources point to an average hospitalization cost of around $20,000.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reports that Medicare fee-for-service COVID-19 hospitalizations average $24,033. Another study of Medicare fee-for-service enrollees found an average COVID-19 hospitalization cost $21,752.
How many HAIs do you manage in your facility each year? These are your costs.

Other Cost Savings through HAI Management

Effective HAI management saves your hospital money in many ways other than the obvious savings on direct patient-related costs.

By effective hospital infection control, we mean:

  • UV air disinfection
  • Pressurization
  • Unblocked, well-maintained, HVAC-controlled air flow

These strategies help you reduce costs in numerous ways:

1. Facility

Fewer HAIs will lead to a reduction in unreimbursed care costs. As many insurers and the general public shift to a pay-for-quality versus pay-for-service model, having a poor infection control system will continue to become more costly. Employing air management systems to reduce HAIs will reduce these costs.

Fewer lengthy infection battles means more patient beds available for profitable use. Not only does the patient suffer but the bed used for the patient with an HAI is thought of as a no-profit bed, given the costs to fight infections with meager reimbursement from payers.

Some other facility- and asset-related benefits:
Retain packaged supply items that you’d normally discard because they were in an infected patient’s room.

Equipment is less prone to breakdowns and requires less cleaning. Longer-lasting equipment means less money and time spent on capital, procurement, installation, and training on new equipment.

Meet sustainability goals as you pump less infected air out of the building. Healthy buildings command higher per-square-foot rates because you already have systems in place to maintain indoor air quality. Air management systems offer immediate ROI but also increase the value of buildings over time.

2. Reputation

Reputation is important to all businesses, but perhaps especially so in health care.
Having a rep as a safe place will increase insurance reimbursement rates, patient referrals, and new patients at your facility. This boost may also come in the form of a better overall perceived environment, as air management systems also help reduce unpleasant odors typical of hospitals.

While reputation is notoriously hard to measure, it’s actually easy to see how it influences the bottom line. The Spiegel Research Center studied over 56,000 online reviews and found that reviews strongly impact decisions. It can be the main influencer in whether someone chooses your facility for elective procedures.

3. Employee Health & Productivity

Sick days cost $220 billion annually in lost productivity, according to the CDC. Unscheduled sick days cost companies $2,650 per year per hourly employee and even more for salaried employees.

As of October 7, 2021 – Covid 19 cases among healthcare workers has reached a staggering 582,811 among doctors, nurses and staff.

The National Health Service in England recorded around 73,200 (18%) more sick days among nurses and health visitors in May 2021 compared to May 2019.Over that time, the number of sickness absences taken for mental health reasons increased by 31%.

In the states physicians are just as stressed. A survey published in the Journal of the American College of Emergency Physicians found that 22% of 1,300 emergency physicians “reported symptoms of stress consistent with PTSD” during Covid.

Another study presented at the American Psychiatric Association annual meeting in May 2021 found that 36% of 1,390 physicians with no active history of PTSD had PTSD during the pandemic.

Employees work in the conditions of your facility day in and day out. While the effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccine is major, the underlying mental health trauma takes a toll on energy and well-being. Effective HAI reduction can cut down on employee absenteeism from mental health related sick days.

Having a safe, effective working environment will also help you attract the best doctors and staff. They want to know that protecting patients and employees is a top priority. A strong focus on air disinfection creates a more positive and health-focused work environment, potentially reducing employee turnover.

A Harvard University sustainability report found that in buildings with air management systems, employees have 61% higher scores on cognitive assessments. The average value of that improvement is $6,500 per employee per year.

The biggest impacts were made with:

  • Reduction of built up carbon dioxide, normally achieved by having green spaces in a building to remove carbon dioxide and introduce oxygen.
  • Reduction in volatile organic compounds, achieved through filtration and UV air disinfection.
  • Increased overall ventilation rate; more room air changes

4. Legal

Complying with indoor air quality (IAQ) regulations minimizes potential fines and lawsuits. From a whole-room air disinfection machine to proper pressurization protocol, you can show that you’re more than complying with standards.

In 2014, several deaths in a Pittsburgh hospital led to a major investigation and lawsuits. The investigation took a winding turn toward one of the hospital’s vendors. According to investigators, the company responsible for cleaning the hospital’s sheets was drying them with air heavily contaminated with mold. Had either the vendor or the hospital used UV air disinfection, those individuals may still be alive today.

Poor Indoor Air Quality in Schools

Poor indoor air quality isn’t just a “hospital problem.” IAQ regardless of location is 2x-5x, and sometimes 100x, worse than outdoor air.

As of Oct. 2, 2021, the CDC projected Covid-19 infection rates of nearly 145 per 100,000 children ages 5-11, 144 for ages 12-15, and 148 for those ages 16-17. A month prior, infection rates for adolescents were more than double that, and nearly double for elementary-age children.

Schools are a major source of pathogen infection that could benefit from better air management practices.

A Unicef study reports that in the period between March 11, 2020 and February 2, 2021, schools have been fully closed for an average of 95 instruction days globally, which represents approximately half the time intended for classroom instruction.
214 million students from pre-primary to upper secondary education in 23 countries have missed at least three-quarters of classroom instruction time at the pre-primary to upper secondary level.

On average, in countries where schools were still closed as of February 2, 2021, nearly 80 percent of classroom instruction has been missed in the eleven-month period.

Poor air quality in schools:

  • Hurts student attendance, comfort, and performance
  • Reduces teacher/staff performance
  • Accelerates the deterioration of physical property
  • Increases the possibility of school closings — both temporary and permanent
  • Strains relations between school administration and parents
  • Creates negative publicity and impacts community trust
  • Creates liability problems

Air Management Systems; Exponential ROI

Air management systems are proven to improve air quality and reduce HAI. They offer hospitals an exponential ROI on not just the reduction in patient costs, but also in indirect ways like staff performance human resources and legal. School administrations can use effective airborne pathogen mitigation methods to improve in-class attendance thus improving funding, student academic retention, and mental health.

For more information on how you can reduce HAIs in your facility with portable air disinfection units, contact us below.