The Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) department of a large, pediatric health system provides on-call support to employees twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Over the past two years, IPC has experienced an approximately 50% increase in on-call pages, leading to frequent interruptions in daily work of the infection preventionists (IP) and more response required during non-business hours. We aimed to develop a more efficient method for answering and triaging IPC questions.
IPC partnered with an existing 24/7 call center already in place at the health system. Employees call this IPC Communication Center directly with their questions. Agents answering calls were trained on topics including but not limited to isolation precautions, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), multi-drug resistant organisms and communicable diseases. Agents were provided resources to assist with immediate response to inquiries and they only escalated to the IP on-call as needed. IPC provided ongoing education to agents. Data were tracked and reviewed weekly including number of inquiries, inquiries agents resolved versus escalated to IPC and overall topic themes.
Over seven weeks, agents handled 339 employee inquiries. During the first week post implementation, 17% were immediately answered by agents without IP escalation. By the end of week seven, 47% of callers received an immediate response to their inquiry without the need to escalate to IPC. Overall, 31% of inquiries required no IP escalation. Main inquiry topic themes were isolation precautions (32%) and COVID-19 (35%).
An IPC Communication Center provides direct supportfor employees while decreasing the number of inquiries reaching IPC. Partnering with other departments to implement a novel approach to IPC on-call assistance can lead to more efficient processes that provide better support to employees and IP within your health system.