Evidence-Based SPHM Program: Accelerate Return on Investment

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Evidence-Based SPHM Program: Accelerate Return on Investment


Jenna Lindgren

May 11, 2021

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“Innovations to Protect Healthcare Workers: Using a SPHM Program for Decision-Making"

ASPHP Showcases Atlas Lift Tech’s Poster Featuring SPHM Program Success

"Improved patient outcomes, such as fewer instances of HAPI, DVT, CAUTI, and VAP and shorter hospital stays are a direct result of implementing Atlas' SPHM Program. These results often get overlooked. The benefits expand well beyond worker's compensation.”- Danielle Gabele, MSN, RN, CENP, ACNO/Executive Director, Nursing Operations, Cedars-Sinai Marina Del Ray
Atlas Presents Poster at ASPHP Conference Featuring SPHM Program Success

The Association of Safe Patient Handling Professionals, Inc. (ASPHP) is a non-profit organization whose primary mission is to improve the safety of caregivers and their patients by bringing together like-minded individuals who advocate the practice of safe patient handling and mobility. ASPHP promotes safer working environments by providing a venue for those that are interested in the science of safe patient movement with shared ideas, research and providing access to education. ASPHP held its 2021 National SPHM Virtual Education Event on March 5, 2021. In addition to providing diverse SPHM educational topics and mobility trends, an interdisciplinary team shared implementation tips and practical strategies that could be adapted and applied to an SPHM program. Subsequently, attendees were challenged to discuss tips to not only survive but thrive in the face of competing priorities regarding mobility programs.

The COVID-19 situation has threatened SPHM and the role of SPHM professionals, but it has become clear that mobility programs that integrate SPHM is key to patient, worker and organizational success. As part of the educational component of the annual event, ASPHP accepted Atlas Lift Tech’s poster authored by Karen K. Giuliano, PhD, RN, FAAN, MBA.  She is currently the Associate Professor at the College of Nursing/IALS at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst MA and is a clinical outcomes researcher and a critical care nurse, with expertise in issues around patient mobility. The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) recently selected her as its 2020 Distinguished Research Lecturer. This award honors nurses who make significant contributions to high-acuity and critical care research that changes or improves patient outcomes and advances nursing education and practice.

Evidence-Based Mobility Program Success

Having published over 80 articles, Giuliano’s latest project with Atlas for ASPHP explores the intersection of qualitative and qualitative support for a SPHM program with more structured mobility. Click or read below to discover the impact of a SPHM program on ROI, patient and leadership satisfaction and improvements in healthcare worker safety results at each facility!


Hospitalized patients today are sicker and require increasingly more mobility support to achieve recovery than ever before, and healthcare workers are often ill-prepared to perform mobility tasks safely. SPHM professionals are well-positioned to facilitate worker health and safety by reducing the risks associated with manual handling.

This study describes practical evidence-based innovations that increase economic return on investment, decrease worker injury and yield a high degree of worker and leadership satisfaction. Findings from this study are designed to help SPHM professionals in making handling decisions when planning for the mobility program needs of heavier, sicker, deconditioned patients across the continuum of health care.


A mixed method design with a convenience sample was used. Worker injury data served as the quantitative element. Interviews with clinicians who had implemented and sustained a SPHM program served as the qualitative element. Three healthcare organizations were invited to participate.

Of the three invited, two healthcare organizations participated. The organizations were located in Northern California (Facility #1) and Southern California (Facility #2).


Facility #1 was a 250-bed acute care facility. Facility #2 was an 800-bed facility. Both were part of a multi-facility system. Both facilities elected to integrate a SPHM lead and team, equipment, training, data analytics and an expert coaching initiative into their SPHM program.

Each facility demonstrated an economic return on investment based on reduced frequency and severity of worker injuries. Follow-up interviews indicated a high level of satisfaction with a fully implemented mobility program by both frontline healthcare workers and leadership teams.

Findings: Facility #1

In the first full year of having the SPHM program in place. Facility #1 found a 93% decrease in cost of injuries resulting in an overall cost decrease from $395,240.97 (SPHM program pre-implementation) to $29,596.94 (SPHM program post-implementation).  Facility #1 continues to sustain low rates of severity and frequency of injury consistent with the first-year findings. The program has sustained these findings consistently over the past 8 years.

Findings: Facility #2

Prior to implementation, the number of back injuries reported by Facility #2 was 51 in FY 2014 and 70 in FY 2015 (SPHM program pre-implementation). In FY 2016, there were only 37 back injuries associated with patient handling activities, marking a 47% decrease from the previous year. In FY 2017, there was a further 38% decrease in back injuries from the previous fiscal year. In FY 2014-2017, there was a 62% decrease in costs associated with lost workdays, totaling a savings of over $18 million, as compared to FY 2010-2013.


  • Both Facility #1 and Facility #2 consistently reported a high degree of satisfaction from frontline workers and members of the leadership teams. Satisfaction themes were: economic benefit, ease of patient handling and mobility, value in accessing resources for patient handling activities.
  • Limitations to this quality improvement project include the retrospective nature of the project and the limited structure of the interview process.

Conclusion/Application to Mobility Program Practice

This project explored the intersection of qualitative and qualitative support for SPHM programs. Despite trends toward earlier and more aggressive mobility, both facilities were able to reduce the frequency and/or severity of worker injury as a result of a SPHM program that corresponded with increases in structured mobility programs. As these demands impacted all aspects of worker and patient safety, SPHM professionals were seeking strategies to implement and sustain Mobility programs in a manner that yielded:

  1. Return on economic investment
  2. Improved frontline and leadership satisfaction
  3. Evidenced-based SPHM program decision-making for improved healthcare worker safety.

This real-life case study is just one of many examples of how Atlas offers impactful Mobility Programs along with expertly-trained Mobility Coaches.  We utilize proprietary software to effectively collect real-time dat which  patient safety professionals and risk managers use to inform decisions within their organizations.

Your journey towards the successful deployment of a Mobility Program begins with a facility assessment. The Atlas SPHM assessment  includes an in-depth review of current mobility practices on the floor, policies and procedures, equipment inventory and usage, annual incurred cost of patient handling injuries, as well as additional elements of the program. We also pay close attention to the culture and patient population of your facility to ensure we develop a customized Mobility Program to achieve your unique objectives. We tailor our programs to optimize current initiatives, make the most out of existing resources and set targets for improved metrics and reduced costs.

When it comes to safe patient handling and mobility programs there isn’t just one solution. Let us help you find the sustainable program that’s just right for your facility.

Click Here for the First Step to Mobility Program Success for Your Organization

  1. Dirkes SM, Kozlowski C. Early Mobility in the Intensive Care Unit: Evidence, Barriers, and Future Directions. Crit Care Nurse. 2019; 39 (3): 33–42.  See link to abstract:
  2. Gabelle D, Barone M, Manwell J, Gallagher SM. Implementing and Sustaining a Safe Early Mobility Program by Managing Leading and Lagging Outcome Indicators: The Role of the Occupational Health Nurse in Worker Safety. AAOHN National Conference. 2021.
  3. Giuliano K, Pryor L, Gallagher SM. Creating a culture of worker safety: Evidence-based safe mobility in the ICU. In production.
  4. Jolley SE, Moss M, Needham DM, et al. Point Prevalence Study of Mobilization Practices for Acute Respiratory Failure Patients in the United States. Crit Care Med. 2017;45(2):205-215. doi:10.1097/CCM.0000000000002058 See link to abstract with Findings:
  5. Temple G, Gallagher SM et al. Bariatric readiness: clinical and economic implications. Bariatric Times. 2017;14(8):10–16. Download free at Bariatric time using reference in google search.
  6. Exploring Safe Patient Handling and Mobility Implementation in a Large Urban Compared with a Small Suburban Medical Center: A Model to Reduce Occupational Injury Danielle E. Gabele, MSN, RN, Melanie Barone, RN, MSN, Judi Manwell, RN, MSN, Sheriee Mendez, DNPc, FNP, Karen K. Giuliano, PhD, RN, Cedars-Sinai Health System, Marina Del Rey CA, University of Massachusetts, Amherst MA. Poster presented at NTI

Evidence-Based SPHM Program: Accelerate Return on Investment

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Evidence-Based SPHM Program: Accelerate Return on Investment

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