Infonaut: Putting HAIs Under the Microscope

Per the Centers for Disease Control, America boasts an estimated 1.7 million hospital acquired infections (HAIs) annually—that’s one in every twenty-five people who enter a hospital. Of those, 99,000 don’t survive. HAIs kill more people annually than breast cancer and car accidents combined, and by 2030 it is predicted that surgeries will be impossible, as they will render antibiotics useless.

Imagine that a plane were to crash each day. That is the equivalent to HAI deaths’ regularity of occurrence.

Concerned yet?

Hospital acquired infections are a problem that aren’t going away. For years they’ve been called to attention in waves that seem to come and go. We see them on the news and splashed across the Internet for a few months of concern, and then they’re forgotten about. But they don’t truly go away.

Hospital acquired infections are a recurring and worsening problem that plague the healthcare facilities on which we depend. In terms of prevention, hospitals aren’t where they should be; there is an underdeveloped understanding of the measures that should be taken to combat this.

The CEO of The Leapfrog Group, a hospital safety-ranking organization, asserts that hospitals are getting worse because they cannot identify the source of the problem. Those that are able to find it cannot solve it, and those that can solve it cannot successfully execute and enforce the solution.

Infonaut seeks to change that. Through a proprietary real-time surveillance, analytics and behavior improvement platform, Infonaut aims to target and block causes for HAI spread and correct the existing problem. We sat down with Niall Wallace, Infonaut’s founder, to get his take on the severity of the HAIs plaguing hospitals.


To articulate his frustrations, Niall called upon the words of Peter Drucker:

“Culture eats strategy for lunch everyday.”

Wallace echoes the sentiment of Leapfrog’s CEO: While many hospitals struggle to effectively source their HAI problems, others simply fail to implement the strategy necessary to remedy them. It has proven extremely challenging to pervade the established norms that saturate hospitals and have for years.

Infonaut is currently rolling out a survey assessment to the clinical front lines. This enables analysis of hospitals’ habits and behaviors to yield critical information regarding level of susceptibility to HAIs. It offers an enhanced understanding of the paths infections take, specific to the hospital. Infonaut may then provide healthcare centers with proven, previously unknown ways to fight and prevent HAIs from arriving and spreading.

Surveillance includes ongoing collection and analysis of data from facilities and outbreaks around the world. Founded in light of the SARS outbreak in Canada, Infonaut gleaned and examined the circumstances and actions that surrounded the epidemic and enabled it to spread. In doing so they uncovered valuable information to wield, should similar cases arise. Perhaps of greater value is the process undergone: Infonaut has since refined and perfected their methods to allow for a results turnaround time that will allow information to be promptly collected, analyzed, and interpreted while still pertinent for the case at hand.

This summer Niall and his team will be rolling out Infonaut surveys in the UK. They’ve partnered with Knowlex, a British organization aiming to propel research and innovation in healthcare through the exchange of knowledge. Born in Scotland, Wallace is no stranger to Europe, and will be speaking at the UK national conference in September with hopes of communicating the necessity of Infonaut’s focus.


In tandem with the assessments performed during times of trouble, information is archived to serve future benefits. All approaches put forth by Infonaut are evidence-driven and tested to ensure the most effective results. The ramifications of minor tweaks in healthcare facility procedures in terms of HAI reduction are truly stunning. It has us wondering, as I’m sure you are, too: Why are all hospitals not looking to Infonaut for guidance?

Despite the safety and cleanliness that hospitals boast, the numbers of diseases contracted and resulting deaths are unwaveringly growing. An analysis of hospitals revealed that there are few repercussions—financial or otherwise—that hospitals face for HAI presence and spread.

Infonaut and their Buffalo partner, CUBRC just released an honest analysis of who truly pays the price (monetarily, at least) for the failure to eradicate HAIs. Unsurprisingly, they found that insurance companies are the financial victims here. There is a clear lack of incentive for hospitals to truly devote the resources necessary; however, the incentive does exist for the companies who insure them. In addition to saving lives and bettering the healthcare system for future generations, insights offered by Infonaut will relieve the hefty costs associated with HAI treatments—an estimated $20-$50 billion in the US.

By and large the greatest benefit Infonaut offers is the patient safety it ensures and the lives it saves. Infonaut “…understand[s] why patient safety doesn’t improve and infection rates don’t drop despite large investment and large penalties.” While this fact alone should be reason enough to devote the time, effort, and money to change, it will (sadly) likely depend on those who may reap the financial advantages Infonaut can offer. Insurers, here’s looking at you.

To learn more about 43North winners, Infonaut,  visit their website.

Have the next great idea? Check out 43North for yourself.

Image sourced from here.