Can hand hygiene technology clean up the HAI mess?

A passive, proactive system could be the key to eliminating up to 70% of preventable infections.

By Carlo Koren

We’ve all heard that it’s better to get ahead of a problem before it gets out of hand—no pun intended—and that it’s generally better to be proactive than reactive.

Instead of waiting for a crisis to occur, why not do the best you can to avoid it?

Hospitals and other medical facilities have generally taken a reactive approach to hospital acquired infections (HAIs), with the adverse result of too many deaths and extended stays, penalties, and lawsuits.

Most medical facilities want to be proactive, it’s just that current solutions for reducing HAIs aren’t as effective as they could be:

  • Direct observation often skews results, impacting compliance only when people know they’re being watched
  • Random “secret shopper” approaches fail to show a complete picture of hand sanitation compliance
  • Active systems that use buzzes and beeps to prompt hand sanitation typically fall prey to “alert fatigue” and end up being ignored
How passive becomes proactive

Understanding that the last thing a doctor or nurse needs is another alert distracting them from their important work or having someone they don’t know in the room watching over them with a clipboard, our team at Mirador Health has developed a unique and unobtrusive hand hygiene system.

It uses Bluetooth low energy (BLE) technology to passively exchange data between convenient sanitation stations and small sensors that can be affixed to employee badges or worn with a lanyard.

Developed in 2011, BLE technology has revolutionized the passive collection of data from which to develop actionable insights. Data is the only way to change hand hygiene behavior.

Passive hand hygiene systems have several advantages over current methods. They remain in the background, so workflow proceeds without interruption, and they quietly collect accurate data—in real time—that makes it much easier to understand missed opportunities, facilitate behavior change, and track progress to defined goals.

Our system continuously gathers data on:

  • Specific hand sanitization events
  • Time in and out of a room
  • Missed opportunities when hand sanitization could have taken place
  • Low batteries and alcohol levels for proactive maintenance and supply replenishment
Rallying teams to limit HAIs

While the data we collect corresponds to unique devices carried by employees, our system isn’t designed to punish or blame people for not sanitizing their hands. Instead, it’s designed to create opportunities for awareness, show where improvements need to be made, and even make it possible to provide incentives for better behaviors.

As many might know, technology for monitoring hand hygiene is already being used with some success, and our passive collection of data tied to employee badges can make it even easier to implement

The goal of any technological innovation, in healthcare or any other industry, should be to empower people to do better without becoming a distraction. By applying BLE technology to hand hygiene, we’ve achieved just that in the fight against HAIs.

Carlo Koren is president of Mirador Health Solutions.

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