Magazine article Health Facilities Management

Hand-Hygiene Monitoring: Electronic Compliance Systems Use Technology to Help Prevent Infections

Magazine article Health Facilities Management

Hand-Hygiene Monitoring: Electronic Compliance Systems Use Technology to Help Prevent Infections

Article excerpt

To combat the rising tide of health care-associated infections, the use of hand-hygiene compliance monitoring (HHCM) systems has increased in hospitals and other health care facilities across the nation.

Proper hand hygiene at key moments during patient care is an important means of preventing infection. Of course, health care personnel work in an environment noted for heavy workloads, responsibilities and multitasking. They are pressed constantly to complete more tasks in less time. The newest HHCM systems take these factors into account.

"Hospitals are looking for methods of tracking hand-hygiene compliance that are cost-effective, easy to implement and readily accepted by staff, so systems need to have a minimal impact on the information technology team, not interfere with other hospital systems and not disrupt staff workflow," says Heather McLarney, vice president of marketing, DebMed, Charlotte, N.C.

The latest HHCM systems use scanning technology to perform automated collection and reporting of hand-hygiene measurements across an organization. Many systems implement a coaching strategy and team concept to improve compliance.

New HHCM systems

Stanley Healthcare, Waltham, Mass., offers an HHCM system that uses a hospital's Wi-Fi network to transmit information. "As a caregiver enters or leaves a treatment room and dispenses soap, foam or gel, an embedded Exciter unit in the dispenser is activated. This triggers a staff badge worn by the caregiver, sending a message over the facility's Wi-Fi network that identifies the caregiver, the activation of the dispenser, and the time and location of the wash event, according to Joel Cook, solutions director.

HyGreen Inc., Gainesville, Fla., provides just-in-time coaching to health care workers when they forget to wash, and records the information in real time, says Elena Fraser, vice president of sales and marketing. "The instant the health care worker dispenses the hand wash, both the light-emitting diode on the top of the HHCM sensor and the badge turn green. At the same time, a wireless signal documents the worker identification, time and location and sends that information to the database," she explains.

When the health care worker steps into a zone that is created by a monitor over the patient bed, the monitor recognizes that the badge is green. Again, time, location and worker ID are transmitted to the database. If the health care worker forgets to wash his or her hands, the bed monitor will cause the badge to vibrate, which serves as a subtle reminder.

The SafeHaven hand-hygiene monitoring solution from Georgia-Pacific Professional, Atlanta, uses a real-time locating system (RTLS) that acts like an indoor global positioning system, displaying the locations of specific employees. It incorporates three key components: badges worn by health care workers, which emit infrared (IR) and radio-frequency identification (RFID) signals; sensors in patient rooms and throughout the hospital that read both IR and RFID signals; and dispensers that read badges.

"The granularity of the data makes the system actionable," says Bob Garvin, vice president of sales for health care technology solutions. "Reports reveal information as specific as what was used on the hands, as well as when and where an individual performed or missed hand-hygiene opportunities. Managers can compare results of individuals, different shifts, units or even hospitals."

The DebMed Group Monitoring System tracks whether or not health care workers are washing their hands as frequently as they should be, according to World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, says McLarney. "Dispensers utilize proprietary electronics to capture hand-cleaning activity on a group basis, as opposed to requiring employees to wear a badge and be tracked individually. It draws on an evidence-based, statistically valid algorithm that determines how many times workers should have cleaned their hands, based on hospital-specific data such as number of patients in the unit and nurse-to-staff patient ratio, to derive a compliance rate," she explains. …

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