Reducing Post-Surgery Healthcare Acquired Infections


The healthcare division of Kimberly-Clark engaged Peer Insight to explore an early-stage service offering that delivered a patient-centered care experience to surgical patients.



A service that reduced hospital readmissions from healthcare acquired infections by 75%, meaning healthier patients and significant savings from reduced costs and hospital penalties.

The Problem

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on any given day, about one in 31 hospital patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection.

With hospital infection rates on the rise and associated reimbursement penalties looming, Kimberly-Clark’s health division saw an opportunity to develop a service offering that could improve patient outcomes while helping healthcare providers avoid costs.

Kimberly-Clark brought Peer Insight on board to guide the firm into the business of life-saving services.


The Approach

Peer Insight led the Kimberly-Clark team through a design research process with key stakeholders in the healthcare ecosystem – doctors, patients, nurses, and administrators.
Through patient shadowing and interviews, we started to uncover unmet needs for all parties, not just healthcare providers.

Next, we crafted service concepts to address critical needs and visited again with stakeholder groups to share low-fidelity service prototypes. After three weeks of testing and iteration, we refined the offerings to create a single super-concept. This concept enrolled the patient before surgery, preparing them for the realities that would face them upon discharge. It also provided in-hospital feedback to clinicians about high-risk moments where infections occur.

We then charted a course for an eight-week, in-market alpha test (pilot) with real patients in hospitals. We chose certain highly-invasive surgical procedures and enrolled a 20-person test group and a 20-person control group


The Impact

The results exceeded our expectations: the incidence of hospital readmissions related to healthcare-acquired infections for the test group was nearly 75% lower than for the control group. The implications for avoiding bad patient outcomes, and avoiding costs and penalties, easily outweighed the costs of the solution.

The healthcare division is now developing a scalable version of the service through a partnership with a UX design firm that developed a functional prototype of a digital, patient-centered application.

Through this project, Peer Insight helped Kimberly-Clark to validate and test a service capable of saving lives in an industry known for difficult regulations, high costs, and unparalleled stakes. We equipped the division with the tools and confidence to explore more service-centric opportunities in healthcare and beyond.